Widely known as the “Tech Humanist”, Kate O’Neill is founder and CEO of KO Insights, a strategic advisory firm committed to improving human experience at scale through more meaningful and aligned strategy.
Among her prior roles, she created the first content management role at Netflix, developed Toshiba America‘s first intranet, and founded [meta]marketer, one of the first digital strategy and analytics agencies.
Kate has appeared as an expert tech commentator on BBC, NPR, and a wide variety of international media, and her written insights have been featured in WIRED, CMO.com, and many other outlets.
Her books have included “Tech Humanist” and “Pixels and Place,” as well as her latest, “A Future So Bright,” which launched in September 2021.
As a professional global keynote speaker, Kate regularly speaks with leadership audiences around the world, exploring how data and emerging technologies like AI are shaping the future of human experiences, and advocating with her signature “strategic optimism” for humanity’s future in an increasingly tech-driven and exponentially-changing world.
Kate’s expertise in data-based business models, integrated experience strategy, and human-centric digital transformation comes from more than 25 years of experience and entrepreneurship leading innovations across technology, marketing, and operations in category-defining companies.
Through KO Insights, Kate speaks, writes, advises, and advocates on a range of strategic challenges and ethical issues: big data, privacy, emerging tech trends in retail and other industries, intelligent automation and the future of work, digital transformation due to COVID-19, the role of technology in dealing with climate change, managing change at exponential scale, and more.
Kate’s research, writing, speaking, and advocacy all concentrate on the impact of data and emerging technologies on current and future human experiences — from both a business perspective, in terms of innovation and digital transformation strategy, and a general perspective, in terms of humanity overall.
Her approach is consistently “both/and”: business-savvy and human-centric. She advises business and civic leaders on building data-led and technology-driven human experiences that are respectful as well as successful, and helps people overall understand the impact of the data and emerging technologies affecting their lives more and more each day.
Whether in convention centers to audiences of thousands or facilitating a private virtual executive retreat, Kate is a dynamic, playful, and wildly thought-provoking speaker who has been described as “Peter Drucker for the digital age” as well as “Sandra Bullock with brains by Microsoft.”
She has delivered hundreds of keynotes (and virtual keynotes!) at industry conferences and private events around the world.
In addition to delivering galvanizing keynotes, she has moderated and participated in lively panel discussions such as for the United Nations COP25 Climate Change Conference, and regularly facilitates transformative executive workshops and retreats for Fortune 500 companies as well as non-profit boards.
A lifelong prolific and award-winning writer in a range of forms including essays, poetry, plays, and songs, Kate is the author of 5 books including “Tech Humanist” (which was featured at CES 2019), “Pixels and Place,” and her latest, “A Future So Bright.“
Her written insights and expertise have been included in outlets such as WIRED, CMO.com, and USA Today, and she has appeared as an expert commentator on BBC, NPR, Marketplace, NBC, and a wide variety of other national and international news media.
Kate has received a wide range of awards and recognition for her work. Thinkers50, a global ranking of management thinkers, has shortlisted Kate for their Digital Thinking Award. She has also been named to the CX (Customer Experience) Hall of Fame. At one time or another throughout her career she has been named “Technology Entrepreneur of the Year”, a “Power Leader in Technology”, an “Outstanding Woman in Data Analytics,” a “Woman to Watch in Retail Disruption,” a “Woman of Influence”, and more. (She was also named one of the most fashionable women in the U.S. — no, really!)
Kate was featured by Google in the 2014 launch of their global campaign for women in entrepreneurship in recognition of her longstanding vocal and visible advocacy for women and underrepresented people in technology, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
A recurring theme in Kate’s work is the idea of meaning as a fundamental characteristic of human experience.
Her emphasis on meaning comes about naturally: she was a linguist by education and is still an avid language learner by hobby, having studied and dabbled in somewhere around 30 languages (although she only speaks a few well enough to order the next round of drinks).
This curious nature applies to other areas of Kate’s life, as well; for example, at various times, she has learned to play more than a dozen instruments.
She also once read “War and Peace” in its entirety on a second-generation iPhone, to see how the experience was. (Not great; it’s gotten a lot better since then.)
Kate lost her first husband to suicide, as she wrote about in her memoir “Surviving Death,” and her experiences with grief and profound loss inform the deep commitment to meaning, joy, and hope in her work. (She has also since married again, and is quite happy.)
Perennially fascinated with the meaning of place in human experience (as she examined in her book “Pixels and Place“), Kate thoroughly enjoys the travel her work entails (to dozens of cities across four continents and counting), and has lived in Chicago, Silicon Valley, Portland (Oregon), Düsseldorf, and Nashville. Since 2015, she has called New York City home.