VM Global Leadership Summit Explores How Optical Is Being Reinvented


NEW YORK—Nearly 400 executives from the ECP, retail, insurance, product and lab arenas attended Vision Monday’s 7th annual Global Leadership Summit here on Wednesday. The daylong event at The New York Times Center featured a comprehensive program emphasizing creativity and invention and shone the spotlight on a range of ideas, trends and developments poised to impact the optical business.

In keeping with his tradition of surprising the audience at the start of Vision Monday’s Global Leadership Summit, Jobson Medical Information CEO Marc Ferrara walked out onto the stage at the seventh annual event wearing a casual outfit of black jeans, an untucked shirt and black Converse sneakers. Stepping out in this unexpected departure from “business attire” to illustrate the Summit’s theme of “Imagination-Invention, Succeeding in a Culture of Change,” he invited the audience to “challenge the expectations that rule the day and set the boundaries of your business.”

The Summit featured presentations by business and technology leaders, both inside and outside of the optical field, Ferrara said, “I want you to ask questions, go back to your office on Monday and ask questions. Is your fan base bored with your products and services? Who out there is going to change the game and its playing field? Believe me, it’s happening.”

Introducing the program, Marge Axelrad, SVP, editorial director, Jobson, noted "competition can come from anywhere; people are out to entrepreneurially change the world. Digital media affords us the ability to connect with different tiers. We do need to reinvent and embrace creativity about what we’re doing. That’s our goal today."

Fitting the Imagination-Invention theme, the premier sponsors of this year’s event were Adlens and Essilor. Signature sponsors were Luxottica and VSP Global and Supporting Sponsors were Alcon, CareCredit, DAC Vision, and International Vision Expo.

Two private sector experts led the Summit’s first session, Tapping Creativity, delving into what today’s imaginists are working on to change society, commerce and invention. Frank Moss, PhD, director of the New Media Medicine Group at the MIT Media Lab cited examples of innovations at MIT. He said, “The power of passion” played an important role at MIT, where students and faculty were encouraged to “invent and create.” Bruce Nussbaum, a professor at Parsons The New School for Design, tapped into his experience as a journalist at Business Week and author of the book “Creative Intelligence,” encouraged the audience to explore their creativity known as CQ.

Andrew Karp, VM’s group editor, lenses and technology, introduced the second session focusing on the new electronic vision technology trend, which VM calls, “Eye2.”

Ami Dror, co-founder and chief strategy officer, XPand, a 3-D eyeglass company, introduced products that have clinical applications. He discussed its newest product, Amblyz, prescription eyeglasses for treating amblyopia. Kevin Rankin, president and CEO of eSight Corp., discussed electronic eyewear from a clinical perspective. Keith Thompson, MD, the founder and CEO of DigitalVision Systems, presented a new “virtual refraction” technology that is intended to replace the conventional phoropter. Kip Fyfe, CEO of 4iiii Innovations, presented Sportiiii, a wearable device that can be attached to any eyeglass frame to provide athletes with biometric data though an array of colored lights.

A session on health care trends featured session Annmarie Hagan, president and GM of Wellpoint’s Specialty Division, covering dental, life, disability and vision who described Wellpoint’s many roles, including its Anthem and Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Georgia Life divisions as well as its recent acquisition of 1-800-CONTACTS, she painted a larger picture of how the corporation is reacting to the impending full implementation of the Affordable Care Act over the next 17 months.

Another “new health care influencer,” David Golden, OD, founder of both PERC and the Eye Home Network, followed with an explanation of how he’s taking steps to eliminate redundancies and improve efficiencies.

In the Omni-Channel Marketing on the Rise, speakers Martin Bispels, VP, business development, QVC; Jay Engelmayer, VP, GlassesUSA.com; and Francis Jean, OD, president/CEO, IRIS, Canada’s largest vision care group, spoke about the blurring of boundaries between digital and traditional brick and mortar businesses and how mobile is transforming how consumers act and behave.

To bring together the various topics of the day, keynote speaker Robert Safian, editor and managing director of Fast Company, addressed points surrounding a major theme of the summit: Reinvention. “I'm going to encourage you to rethink your business model,” said Safian. “It's easy for us to resist change, and it’s harder for us to embrace it. I encourage you to embrace it.”

Safian expanded upon the concept with three key points: “take your ideas from everybody,” or allow a shared platform of talents and capabilities; “redefine the corner office,” meaning decision makers must be willing to integrate new ideas into the core, not the outskirts, of their business model; and “edit and amplify,” implying companies should focus on their strengths and let go of dated approaches.

Read full coverage about the VM Summit and view pictures of the day’s events.