Fascinated with technology since watching the original Star Wards in the late 70s, Tom Edwards was enamored with the droids C-3PO & R2D2 and how they enabled the main characters on every step. Similarly, the core aspect of technology that enables humankind proved to be the foundation of his professional journey.
Tom spent over two decades working at the intersection of technology and consumer behavior tied to various forms of marketing and advertising. Starting his career during the dot com days paved a path to start-up life, proving to be instrumental in shaping his understanding of business, developing solutions, customer centricity, and grinding methods. These steps helped him build a new skill set in emerging areas shifting from software-based services to strategic marketing, innovation, data, and AI-centric roles.
Today, Tom leads as the Chief Digital & Data Officer at Omnicom Health Group Inc., utilizing his expertise in strategy, data, analytics, intelligent systems, product development, digital transformation, and thought leadership.
However, achieving this milestone was filled with multiple challenges where the accelerated pace of change and how businesses adapt were primary. Tom gained insights that led him to begin creating original content to deconstruct and simplify highly complex topics for himself, his teams, clients, and the industry. He shares, “Since then, I have created over 600 pieces of original content, recorded hundreds of hours of video content, and began delivering keynotes across industries. I have now given over 100+ keynotes on emerging technology and AI across industry events across the globe.”
For the last twenty years, Tom has worked with outstanding teams with renowned brands worldwide. He recalls that one program that he is incredibly proud of was a collaboration with Electronic Arts. His team created the first instance of taking in-game video game content and porting it to the web, a first-of-its-kind program.
Another significant impact was launching Omni Health in 2021 for Omnicom Health Group. Omni Health is the first and largest pharma-focused data precision marketing & HCP insights platform by any agency holding company. He adds, “We have five years invested in refining data models, and Omnicom has invested millions of dollars into the core Omni Platform.”
“This has led to several industry awards. From the 2022 DFWIMA Marketer of the year, 2x OnCon Icon Top 10 global marketer, Tech Titan Technology Advocate award, and Advertising Age recently recognized me as a Marketing Technology Trailblazer. I am humbled and grateful for the recognition and praise of my team members and family for their fantastic support.”
Tom mentions that Omnicom Health Group was recently recognized by Ad Age as the most effective healthcare marketing and communications network in the US, with more than a dozen companies and over 4,000 talented people specializing in every area of health marketing and communications.
From physicians to patients to providers to payers, it takes intense collaboration to coordinate and deliver healthcare. That’s why Omnicom Health Group agencies are culturally oriented toward working together. Most of its client assignments are shared by three or more OHG specialty agencies.
He notes, “Omnicom Health Group was built on the idea of Best of Health. Best of Health Talent, Collaboration, and Inclusion. As Chief Digital & Data Officer, I lead the Digital and Data Center of Excellence. My team responsibilities include expanding our strategic services, enhancing our data/tech/AI products, driving innovation, and empowering the world-class agencies in the OHG network.”
Cultivating Modern Work Culture
OHG offers mobility opportunities across the network to ensure that it keeps talent in the network. Employees have a chance to raise their hand and seamlessly transition from one agency to another to continue their professional development.
“OHG seeks the best talent in the industry, and we are flexible about where that talent is based. I am a great example of Omnicom Health Group’s flexibility. While OHG is headquartered in NYC, I am working effectively to support our aggressive growth agenda based out of my home office in Texas,” clarifies Tom.
Technology as Benefactor
Tom expresses that technology has been foundational to his career as an executive and as a professional, where he uses the filters of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced when speaking about leveraging technology to drive business.
Empower is all about understanding that consumers are in control. Their expectations are radically transforming how business is done. This includes GenZs impact on tech & culture, gaming, the Metaverse, Ethereum, NFTs, POAPs, the evolving role of the camera, the rise of private messaging, and how the camera is a bridge to intelligence.
Exponential is all about ease and convenience as the core motivation for why consumers are open to adopting intelligent systems. This includes all facets of AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, understanding algorithms, predictive decisions, generative models, what he calls the five levels of autonomy, digital humans, virtual assistants, and the rise of the proxy web.
Enhanced is all about perception between physical and digital and how and when technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. This territory dives deeper into the Metaverse, the role of computer vision, digital synths, multi-modal interfaces, digital twins, holograms, synthetic reality, and Tom’s prediction of when people will see multi-modal at scale.
“My goal is always to understand the business problem we are trying to solve and align the optimal technology to solve or enhance a program vs. taking technology and making it work. I see this happen all too often when integrating new and emerging tech. Ensure that it is relevant for both the brand and the existing ecosystem and communities,” Tom explains.
What Comes Next?
Tom sets multiple short- and long-term goals to stay on course across many concurrent work streams. For Omnicom Health Group, it’s to continue to evolve its capabilities and upskill its talent for the next phase of marketing and communications. For his data and digital team, it’s about aligning around automation, integrating intelligent systems, and always driving outcomes.
“As a futurist, my goal is to continue to read the signals from across all aspects of technology and consumer behavior, from infrastructure that is foundational to scale advanced intelligent experiences to ecosystems that trigger mass adoption, to the patents and experiments around multi-modal interfaces that will evolve us past desktop and mobile to a time not too far in the near future where technology interacts with us vs. us interacting with it.”
“It’s an exhilarating time as we see technology rapidly moving to redefine our reality. My goal is to continue deciphering what I see and inspire those I interact with across all forms of content and interaction,” Tom concludes.