Digital Products

Co-founder and producer at Salvi Media, William Salvi discusses digital products and personalization with co-founder and CEO of Dom & Tom A Digital Product Agency, Tom Tancredi. They chat through how big data and various digital technologies are tailoring content in a way that sometimes feels intrusive.


About Dom & Tom

Will: So Tom, tell us a little bit about Dom & Tom and what you guys do here.

Tom: Sure. Dom & Tom is a digital agency based in New York and Chicago. It's run by myself and my twin brother Dominic.

Will: Nice.

Tom: So, I run the Chicago office. He runs the New York office. We do digital application development for Fortune 500 clients and everyone below that as well. So, startups and mom and pop shops as well.

Digital Products

Tom: When people want to build a product they usually have a problem or an opportunity.

And what we like to do is marry those ideas with technology but we don't want to just build something that's just going to sit on a shelf.

So we like to think through what the three dimensional holistic vision is going to be for it.

So, for example, if we're building a website or an application we want to know what the business needs are, what the user needs are and everything that comes along with it.

It's not just building something to build it. We want to know that what we're building has a purpose.


Tom: I think the biggest trends that we've been seeing comes from purchases. And we've already seen this shift as it is where you go from two, three stages to purchase an item to Amazon's one-click button to now where you basically have our subscription services like Blue Apron, where you're not even asked if you want to buy something.

They're just curating something for you. So I think that level of curation and the complete eroding of steps is going to continue on and I think it's going to get even more in depth beyond apparel and food choices. I think we're going to see that there's enough data on ourselves so much so that an algorithm knows us better than what we know ourselves. And so we're just going to start getting ourselves curated in such a way where we don't even pick our own shoes. We don't pick our own clothes. We don't pick our own cars.

We basically are told, "This is what you can have as your life. Here's your phone. Here's your belt. Here's your car." "This is what you can afford. This is what your preferences are. We already know this about you." And it's almost like it's surprising to find out who you are.


Will: As a business owner, how do you feel about it and as a consumer how do you feel about it? Because isn't there that side of, "Hey, where's my privacy? Where's my protection of that data?"

Tom: This may be cynical. I'm thirty-seven years old so I think the gradual erosion of privacy has been offset by the increased value of curation. So, does Amazon know a lot about me? Sure do. But do I get a lot better value from having that information out there? And what am I hiding from that direction?

Will: There's a lot of areas in the world that don't have this access.

Tom: Sure.

Will: So is it kind of like, there's just one sector that's going and the other sector that's kind of staying behind?

Tom: I don't think so. Right now...I mean twenty years ago or even ten years ago it would cost you ten thousand dollars to get a website up and have an e-commerce portal. Now you can do it with Shopify for a couple hundred bucks. I think we're seeing a huge commoditization for small businesses and for people who want to jump in. I see that all over with the tools that are being used. You don't have to have millions of dollars to get into innovative technologies.

There's a lot of open source and free source technologies out there right now. And even if you're non-technical yourself, if you're in marketing, if you're in accounting, if you're in legal, you can still participate in all of that.

Tom: I think we don't have a lot of good rules and ground rules right now as to what is a platform, who gets to make the decisions. And because of that, people are building their livelihoods on these platforms, and then suddenly finding that they could be cut immediately.

Will: Right.

Tom: So I think there has to be-

Will: Totally at the disposal of that platform.

Tom: Right. And so I think there has to be some sort of conversation around who owns the content, who could share the content. If it goes to a platform, platforms can't have it both ways where they are providing a gateway towards a marketplace and then also competing in that marketplace. Which is what Amazon is doing too.

Tom: You know those startups were founded on federal programs and federal aid and federal technologies. I mean Silicon Valley became Silicon Valley because of NASA. And most of those engineers had kids. They basically grew up in the shadow of computer systems which they've had access to and there was such a glut of access to that.

And then after that, once the internet became something that was commercially adopted, the first people who got it were people who were the sons and daughters of engineers who had access to Federal Programs.

Next Episode

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