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Emotional AI, tech for good, CX and videogames - 3rd day of Touch 2020

After a busy week of networking, we kicked off Weekend Two of Touch Digital Summit. This Saturday we learned about and discussed topics of immersive design and spatial computing, customer journey, native ads, emotional AI and disruption, innovation and agility, DTC media and sports media rights, digital marketing after covid, how to use tech for good, and heard a few inspirational entrepreneurial stories. This was a very eventful day with 11 keynote speakers, 2 exciting workshops, and a fireside chat.

I hope you had a great Saturday with us, but if you missed any talks or just want to get inspired all over again, here is our summary of day 3.

Workshop: The performance of emotion-based digital native ad campaigns

Zoya Andreeva, Co-Founder, E-Contenta

Zoya, who is the Co-Founder of E-Contenta - the first content performance platform that converts traffic into paying customers - kicked off the second weekend with a workshop on how to use emotion-based digital native ad campaigns to drive higher CTRs and sales, and promote customer loyalty.

Native advertising refers to ads that appear on publishers’ websites as recommended partner material. At E-Contenta they noticed that a pattern started to emerge. They found that more emotional and creative advertising resulted in higher CTRs (Click-through rate). Furthermore, emotionally engaged users were also more likely to buy, share, and recommend the products. Not all emotions are created equal, but some of the top emotions that make content go viral include joy, amusement, shock, and laughter.

In the second part of her workshop, Zoya gave a few tips for using emotion more efficiently in digital campaigns. First, whatever emotional message you create, it should be compact, clear and delivered quickly. Second, the picture matters (humans and animals work better than nature or artificial objects, direct looks outperform people that are half or fully turned away, and surprisingly unprofessional pictures actually drive higher attention compared to professional photography). Finally, it’s important to pick relevant emotions that correspond most to the values and beliefs of your target audience.

Emotional AI and Healthcare

Lujza Bubanova, CEO, MAIA MD

The technology Lujza became absorbed with is called emotion detecting AI. Emotions help us comprehend the messages people send as they interact with us. What is great about it is that this emotional tracker is universal when it comes to language, gender and race. MAIA MD is a telemedicine platform that helps a sick patient connect with their doctor. It is intended to help especially older people and chronic patients maintain mental health, during the times when going to the doctor isn't recommended.

MAIA MD’s robot that uses emotion detecting AI will call the patients when they might feel a bit down, ask a few general questions and at the same time assess the patient’s emotional reactions. If it detects that their reactions are outside the normal range, it will for example inform the patient’s GP or close-one to check on them.

Lujza also gave us a sneak peak into her new project, SeeMe, which uses emotion detecting AI to help parents understand their babies emotions before they can speak. It is intended to give parents some peace of mind and assurance that their baby is doing well and developing normally.

Leading Disruptive Innovations: Mindset, Skillset & Toolset

Deepti Pahwa, Chief Innovation Officer, Contact World

Next up, Deepti drew on her extensive experience working as a human-centred designer, innovations & brand strategist, to teach us about the tools, skill, and the mindset needed to lead disruptive innovations. Disruptive innovations can happen in any industry and can be done by any company. These are lasting innovations that drive change, by providing a completely new way of doing things, new value propositions or create completely new customer segments.

First, Deepti mentioned the tools that help drive disruptive innovation, for example, knowing the voice of your consumer, investing in systems to evaluate ideas and making use of democratic design/open-innovation. Deepti also talked about the skills needed to drive such disruptive innovations. One of the first things she mentioned was the need to hire the right kind of people. People that are curious, empathic, think systematically and have a vision. Another important idea was investing in broad-spectrum people capable of T-shaped thinking. These are people with cross-industry knowledge who are able to see the bigger picture and draw connections in situations where specialists might remain stuck.

Finally, Deepti also touched on what it takes to create a culture of innovation and emphasized the need to invest in the mindset that sparks new ideas. It is important to embrace failure, be ambitious in solving problems and encourage cross-functional collaboration.


Open innovation and collaboration

Sarah Lorenz, Director Business Development, German Entrepreneurship GmbH

For our fourth talk of the day, Sarah shared her insight into the topic of open innovation and collaboration. Speed and scalability are key to success in today’s digital era, however collaboration can be just as important. Collaboration can also help with idea generation as often we need to generate a lot of ideas before finding ‘the one’.

Sarah discussed the difference between closed and open innovation. Closed innovation is when for example only people in the R&D department of a company develop new ideas. In contrast, in open innovation, organisations don’t just rely on their internal knowledge, but also make use of multiple external sources (i.e. customer feedback, competitors, the public) to drive innovation. By combining different types of knowledge exchange we are able to increase our market potential and have a better chance of finding scalable ideas quickly.


To successfully operate open innovation, Sarah said there are a few key points for companies and organisations to take into account. It is important to know what you want to achieve with open innovation, you should develop a process to tell good and bad ideas apart, encourage a culture of innovation and provide incentives to keep motivation and participation high, and consider the intellectual properties early on.

Change in response to market needs: the story of Wolt

Natalia Khizanishvili, General Manager, Wolt

Wolt is a Finland based technology company known for its food-delivery platform, at the moment active in 23 markets. Wolt expanded rapidly since its launch in 2016, and Georgia was their first market outside of the EU. Natalia concluded our first block of talks by sharing how Wolt innovated in response to the Covid crisis - how they adjusted their services, the challenges they’ve faced, and how they are progressing.

Wolt saw that to respond to market needs they had to adjust rapidly. One of the first and most important changes they’ve made was to expeditiously add a new vertical - supermarket delivery. This retail acceleration of the company didn’t come without challenges. In normal circumstances, this sort of pivot would take years to plan and execute, but Wolt had to do it in a matter of months.

Natalia shared a few insights that she found helped Wolt successfully navigate this retail acceleration. One was to stay as customer-obsessed as possible but also not be afraid to fail and make mistakes along the way. Living comfortably outside of their comfort zone had to be the norm. She also emphasized the need for having the right people in the right places; people that are adaptable, open to change, but also patient and persistent.

The first block of the day was completed with an excellent panel discussion with a group of inspiring and visionary women in tech.

Workshop: Unlocking the value of unstructured data

Arseniy Afanasenko, Head of Machine Learning Department, Aligned Research Group

At our Virtual Expo stage, Arseniy guided us through multiple success stories of the ARG team where they solved different text and video mining tasks, to teach us how to unlock the value of unstructured data.

First, Arseniy talked about automatic web page categorization. At ARG they created a categorization engine that provides on-the-fly content categorization based on linguistic models and deep learning. Second, Arseniy addressed the issue of web fraud and ‘phishing’ and the corresponding need for better instant fraud detection based on page URL and content. The third use case related to the clustering of unknown internet domains into meaningful groups.

In the second part of his workshop, Arseniy talked about image and video processing. He gave two examples of success stories of ARG when dealing with video data. The first example was in relation to AI/VR applications in Banking - a virtual news anchor. The second success story was in the field of medicine. ARG built an AR component of a surgical assistance system that can help with surgical navigation and visualization.


Before our second block of talks, Dimitri Safonov, a digital marketing, nutrition and wine experts joined us for a healthy food masterclass. He made us all think twice about opting for pesto pasta for the fifth day in a row, by teaching us how to prepare a healthy Quinoa bowl.

Global sports media rights industry: from old-school to digital

Lukas Zajancauskas, Director of Strategy & Business Development, Content Arena

While the $50bn sports media rights market has become more complex over the years, the way that rights are managed, bought, and sold, has not kept pace with changes in technology. Starting our second block of the day, Lukas gave a talk about the current state of the global sports media rights industry, the key trends shaping it, and how technology is helping the industry respond to these trends and unlock its full potential moving forward.

The five main trends shaping the media rights industry include:

(1) Changing consumption habits. There is a rise of streaming/consumption on-the-go, and also the so-called Gen Z dilemma, who are more demanding in terms of engagement but simultaneously consume more short-form content and highlights versus live events.

(2) New content formats. The rise of esports, doubling the value of short-form content and non-live content, athletes becoming content creators.

(3) Personalisation and localization. Fans are willing to spend more money for a more personalised user experience.

(4) More sports content than ever. And they are all looking for commercial opportunities and market access.

(5) Fragmented media market. D2C and the hybrid future, Pay-TV squeeze and the age of disruptors.

Lukas sees technology as an enabler, allowing the industry to successfully respond to these trends. For example, technology has changed the way content can be delivered, while innovation in production has enabled more efficient capture of sports content. Tech is also allowing increased engagement and personalisation opportunities when watching sports. But have the commercial processes kept pace with these innovations? Lukas thinks that hasn’t really been the case, but his company, Content Arena, is working to bridge this gap. They want to enable a better-connected market and help the rights holders make more informed decisions, leading to increased growth of the industry.

Fireside chat: spatial computing, mixed reality and what is crucial for real innovation

Rebecca Barkin, Vice President, Immersive Experience & Platform Design, Magic Leap

Katherine Luchaninova, Head of Business Development, Aligned Research Group

Rebecca and Katherine joined us for a fireside chat about AR/VR/MR technologies and how the introduction of new technologies can augment the potential of business.

VR obscures the world directly, but this 360 immersion can also isolate users from the real world. On the other hand, in advanced augmented reality, which is what Magic Leap does, digital content can physically live and is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world. We then make use of a wearable device to see, hear, and understand this augmented world around us. This technology offers some exciting applications and can drive meaningful outcomes.


Rebecca gave an example of the use of Magic Leap technology in healthcare, where it was used to help with surgical planning of a complex surgery to separate a set of twins conjoined at the head. By simulating the operation using advanced augmented reality, the surgeons were able to examine and interact with real scenarios, practice and get almost immediate feedback. Other verticals where this technology is valuable is in remote assist, assembly and manufacturing and also in areas like co-design and collaboration. Covid was the catalyst that no one wanted, but we are really seeing the need for finding ways to share ideas, collaborate in a new space, and fight ‘zoom fatigue’ by using co-presence and communication tools.

Rebecca and Katherine concluded this discussion by emphasizing the need for transformation to leverage technology, but also for technology to leverage diversity. It is critical that technology and products are designed without bias as much as possible, and at the very least with checks and balances in place. A way to ensure technology really serves humanity is by ensuring diversity in the workplace. What’s more, studies show that gender and racial diversity also increase the company’s bottom line.

The State of B2B Digital Marketing in a Post-COVID World

Meredith Howard, Social and Digital Media Lead, Deloitte

There is perhaps no more important and critical time to optimize business for digital transformation than right now. COVID-19 has influenced almost every aspect of our lives, and it also had a profound impact on how businesses build meaningful connections with audiences in a mostly-virtual world.

In this session, Meredith referred to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report, to share her insight about the top trends in B2B digital marketing in a post-COVID online ecosystem. Meredith mentioned several trends in relation to social media platforms, as the majority of B2B marketers cite social media as their top marketing tactic. For instance, brands are posting less while people are posting more, user-generated content and personalisation are taking centre stage, spending on advertising has decreased and learning tools are on the rise.

She noted that today’s precedent for brands to act responsibly, should really be reflected in their marketing efforts. To win at digital marketing in a post-COVID world, brands must prioritize three main areas in order to provide as much value as possible to customers/community:

(1) Humanness. Brands should be designing for connection instead of efficiency, create experiences and content that elicit emotions and build purpose into the brand story. Specifically, brands should focus on growing platforms not conversions, partner with micro-influencers, hyper-target their content and never let a comment go unaddressed.

(2) Agility. Brands need to put more emphasis on social listening and market sensing, increase collaboration between marketing and sales, and embrace rapid prototyping and execution. Specifically, brands should listen to conversations in their industry to help inform demand, to inform gaps and white space.

(3) Trust. Brands should speak to - and address - the values of customers, workforces and business partners, prioritize values over demographics and lead with transparency. Specifically, brands should go Live, opt for learning versus showing, and leverage new platform features to organically boost your content.

DTC media as a bright spot for publishing

Brian Morrissey, Founder, The Rebooting

Completing our second block of the day, Brain joined us from Miami to talk about how the media world will be changing in a post-Covid world. External crises like Covid accelerate trends, and it was no different in the media industry. These acceleration include the end of the scale era, the strong getting stronger (i.e The New York Times), and the pivot to paid (a move to a reliable subscription model).

Brian then addressed the topic of DTC (direct to consumer) media. DTC media is built around community rather than audience. While building a community is harder to do, it is a much more powerful model. DTC is focused instead of broad. For instance, with advertising you need large numbers to make a sustainable business, but as your audience is often also your customer in DTC, being focused makes for a stronger business. Furthermore, with DTC you choose to be differentiated; you establish more diverse business models with diverse income streams, which allows you to de-risk.

DTC plays in different areas. In the consumer area, this includes building a business around specific topics consumers are passionate about (i.e. Barstool Sports). A lot of journalists and content creators are leaving big media for places like Substack, which is also the platform Brian is using to monetize his newsletter, The Rebooting.

The speakers joined us back for a round table discussion about personalisation in media and marketing, inclusivity and their vision for the industry.

From Simbioza, the biggest intergenerational project to the most famous Talking Tom - my story

Žiga Vavpotič, co-founder - Ypsilon, initiator - Simbioza, non-executive director - Outfit7, chairman - Slovenian-Chinese Business Council

Kicking off the third and final block of talks, Žiga shared his colourful entrepreneurial story. His journey started when his grandmother asked him what ‘www’ is. This essentially kicked off a digital transformation in Slovenia where over 9000 volunteers were teaching more than 15000 older adults how to use computers. This project was called Simbioza.

Žiga continued his story with Outfit7 and Talking Tom. Outfit7 Limited is one of the fastest-growing multinational family entertainment companies on the planet, best known for its global phenomenon Talking Tom. Today, their games have been played in every single country. Talking Tom grew from an instant app success story into a fully-fledged media franchise. Having 350 million monthly active users and over 14 billion downloads since they started, is both a huge success and a responsibility. Outfit7 was acquired for $1 billion, but nevertheless, they continued to innovate and grow by developing new genres and always looking for opportunities. One main way they expanded their brand was through video content, and today their 3D CGI animated series is watched on various TV channels in 214+ territories worldwide in 32 different languages. Today, Talking Tom has their eyes set on Hollywood!

To wrap up, Žiga finished his talk with a few tips on what people need to think about when creating a global product or service. First, it is important to know why you are doing what you are doing; it is crucial that what you do addresses a need. There is an element of luck - being in the right spot at the right time, but making sure you have a diverse and trustworthy team is equally important. Finally, you should always have fun doing it!


The Journey to Revenue

Tanya Vasileva, Product Manager, Pipedrive

Pipedrive became a unicorn right before Touch Digital Summit, so it was amazing to welcome Tanya to share their story. She talked about the difference between customer journey map, customer lifecycle, sales pipeline, marketing funnel, etc. She emphasized that it is important to have awareness of your entire customer journey from when they first see your product up to the last day they are with you and beyond. Companies with formal customer journey strategies have faster sales cycles, greater return on market investment, more cross-sell and up-sell revenue and greater revenue from customer referrals. It is therefore a top investment priority for companies. It is crucial that companies focus on developing a deep understanding of their customer, and how this maps with their business, KPIs and their team.

Tanya emphasized that pricing is also a feature of customer experience and customer journey. She discussed the value-based pricing model, which is a strategy that is focused on setting prices primarily based on a customer’s perceived value of a company’s product or service. But to do this successfully, companies need to know their customers and values deeply, match their different personas with plans and optimise their cash flows. Tanya talked about the idea of value nurturing which is the act of supporting the customer’s experience of value. You have to prove to the customer that they’ve made the right choice.

Tanya concluded with a few tips for companies wanting to formalize their customer journeys.


Patrick Lee, Co-Founder and founding CEO, Rotten Tomatoes

Next up, Patrick talked about focus. Patrick is a serial entrepreneur, who started six companies, of which Rotten Tomatoes was his third. He learned that being focused doesn’t guarantee success, but being unfocused guarantees failure. He noticed that so many startups and young companies fail because they want to be everything for everybody. Instead what they should do is only answer one question as quickly and as cheaply as possible, and achieve product-market fit.

The way companies can achieve focus is by reducing their scope - picking one feature (the main reason anyone uses your product, i.e. the Tomatometer), one category (i.e. Movies), and one market (the smaller and more niche the better, i.e. hardcore movie buffs). Patrick noted that startups generally have limited resources, however, it’s important to make the most with what you do have, and not worry about the resources that you don’t have. By reducing the scope of the problem, young companies increase their probability of success. You should have one check, one feature, that you do better than everyone else, and make sure you can explain your product clearly in 15 seconds or less. Furthermore, as Peter Thiel says in Zero to One, ‘start small and monopolize’, as it is much easier to dominate a small market. For example, Facebook started with one university, Harvard, and then slowly and systematically expanded to now cover the entire world.

Furthermore, it is important to launch as quickly as possible with the resources you do have and release a minimum viable product to validate your idea early in the development cycle. For instance, Rotten Tomatoes went from idea to launch in 2 weeks, while Twitter was built at a hackathon in one month. And if it doesn’t work out the first time, you pivot, iterate, and launch again. What’s more, focusing helps reduce stress!


Tech for social good

Samira Khan, Senior Manager, Global Impact Engagement, Salesforce

To conclude our series of talks for the day, Samira joined us to discuss how technology can be used for good and create real impact. First, Samira gave an overview of Salesforce. The purpose of Salesforce as a company is to improve the world, through all parts of their business. They bring together their technology, people, relationships, philanthropic capital and impact investment to bear on different social problems. Twenty years ago Salesforce made a pledge to give 1% of their time, equity and product towards social good. Samira believes that the key to Salesforce’s success in being able to live out their purpose and have a social impact, is the notion of shared values, including trust, customer success, innovation and equality. is one of the social impact centres at Salesforce that is supporting the tech for social change portfolio, where they focus on technology, community and key partnerships. They have a variety of technology products (non-profit cloud, education cloud, philanthropy cloud), and also offer pro bono support. They’ve adjusted their business model to better serve the social sector. In the last part of her talk, Samira addressed Impact reports, which is the main vehicle Salesforce is using to communicate their impact to communities.

She concluded her talk with a question: “How is your company bringing its different assets to bear on social good, and how can you drive more of that?” A very important question to ask ourselves in today's world.

After a lively round table conversation around focus, customer centricity, impact and scale, we wrapped the day up and prepared for the last conference day on the 29th of November, to talk more about digital marketing, AI, business development, and customer experience with speakers from HubSpot, AppsFlyer, Dive, Cision and Sabia Studio (aka the voice behind Vogue’s 73 questions and countless projects), among others.

Let’s Touch!

Author: Kristina Redek