London & Intel

intelWhat do London and Intel have in common? Well I find myself in London during one of the largest announcements that Telligent has ever made.

Today we officially announced that Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment organization, has made a $20 million dollar investment in Telligent. You can read the full press release here.

This is significant as Rob points out in his recent post as it will allow us to quickly scale our sales & marketing divisions as well as fund additional product development moving forward.

I am very excited by this obviously as I am responsible for both Sales & Marketing within Telligent. So the strategic plans that we have been devising for the past few months are now coming to fruition through strategic growth both domestically with a greater field presence as well as internationally.

I had recently hired our International Sales Director in London and he has been a phenomenal addition to the team. Our International sales headquarters has been based in London for the past few months now and while I am here we are finalizing our office space in central London and looking to aggressively grow our presence in EU and beyond.
AdTech London
Also, if you happen to be in the area, I will be speaking at AdTech London 2008 this Thursday at 3:10. Or just come by and see me at the Telligent booth we are in space #110.

This is a very exciting time to be a part of the Telligent team and I look forward to the next few years as we execute against our strategic plan and aggressively grow the business while maintaining the unique culture that is Telligent.

Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

DetroitGPThanks again to our friends at the Microsoft Automotive team. I had the privilege to join them for this past weekends Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

I have never attended an IRL, Le Mans Series or an SCCA SPEED World event so I got to experience all three at one location.

And I have to say it was a great event! Being a guest of Microsoft meant that I got to experience the same amenities as they do. This included their trackside chalet to watch the races as well as paddock access to view the cars, drivers and crews up close and personal.

It was great to see the likes of Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, and Danica Patrick hit the track… or actually road since this is a road course vs. the standard oval.

The event was the brainchild of Roger Penske with all net proceeds from the event going to the funding of the preservation of Belle Isle.

It was a great event and I want to thank our friends at the Microsoft Automotive team for being excellent hosts!

Below is me with one of the race cars…. Does it come in Black????

DSC05044

More pictures from the event are available in the Photo Gallery under Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Dark Marketing

One of my hobbies is reviewing emerging trends around marketing and social media (Doesn’t that sound like fun?!?)  One such trend is Dark Marketing. No, this is not Darth Vader marketing his favorite life-support system or vacation spot… Hoth anyone??? This approach caught my attention as it is fascinating to me the lengths that certain brands will go to gain traction with potential influencers.

Dark Marketing (Defined in Wired recently) is discreetly sponsored online and real world entertainment intended to reach hipster audiences that would ordinarily shun corporate shilling.

This style of marketing is more “covert” in its approach. And with current and pending regulation around how products such as tobacco, alcohol and even fast food is presented to target markets this style of marketing is being deployed with more regularity than ever before.

The ultimate end goal is to reach an influencing audience without necessarily directly engaging the brand with the prospective targets. Instead the brands are almost non-existent but they are funding events through creating a sense of elite “insider” or “personal” events. During the events brand team representatives would engage with crowds by loudly ordering the products and then casually engaging in conversation about the products. Or a softer approach of casually conversing about a product or using a product that leads to a pitch in a very casual social setting.

Companies like Sony, Ford and McDonalds are actively deploying Dark Marketing campaigns. Sony recently executed operation “fake tourist” where they planted users of one of their camera products in a prime location and asked them to engage with people to take their picture which would lead to a pseudo-pitch around the product.

McDonalds is not a company that you would normally associate with a Dark Marketing campaign. Normally it is here is our food, here are the toys for your kids and by the way we have a great dollar menu… (great, now I am hungry)… is now sponsoring an alternate-reality game called The Lost Ring and it is nearly devoid of golden arches. This is an interesting approach as this ties McDonald’s sponsorship of the Olympics into a hip virtual-reality crossover between Lost and The Blair Witch project in an attempt to reach global youth in a very viral manner.

One thing remains very clear. The time of shotgun marketing has passed and the user is king when it comes to messaging. But one inherent truth still remains that people are social beings and their will almost always be someone who will have influence within a group. The only thing that has changed is that their defenses have gotten better and marketers have to adapt with innovative strategies that the end user ultimately wants to hear.

 

Spore Creature Creator

SporeI recently took a trip to London for business to discuss social media strategy with members of the Eidos Interactive team as well as our friends at Electronic Arts (Europe) at their new offices in Guildford. Aside from getting a sneak peek at some of the great upcoming titles one in particular was very interesting!

I have mentioned Spore before but as the launch of the game gets closer more is revealed. To recap the games premise, you nurture and guide your creature through five stages of evolution: Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilization, and Space. One of the most amazing elements of the game is the creature creator which allows for endless customization options that can then be uploaded into the game.

While onsite at EA this was the tool that we were able to spend some time with. You have 228 drag-and-drop components to choose from that allow for a variety of unique creations. You have the ability to customize their look and feel from skeletal structure through eyes, legs, tails, colors etc… Then you can take them to the edit area to control the background, add babies, rotate them 360 degrees, preview animations and movements and take pictures of your creations.You manage a majority of your creations through the Sporepedia and have the option to upload your characters for others to see (My Spore User Name is TheBlackFin).

Now the creature creator has been released I highly recommend either playing with the trial or purchasing the creature creator to get a feel for the game. Also your creations can then be uploaded into the game upon release. From everything that I have seen so far this looks like it is going to be a great game. I am not a big PC gamer but Spore will definitely be on my list to pick up when it is released later this year.

Here is one of my original creations from our visit:

TheBlackFin - Creature onsite copy

Here is one of my first creature creations from the trial:

TheBlackFin_Spore Creatures

The Art of War

artofwarWhile recently traveling to LA I picked up a copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Translation by Thomas Cleary… Shambhala Dragon Editions). This has always been one of my favorite strategy/business books as it is amazing to me how applicable 6th century BC teachings outlining success in battle are to current day business and corporate culture.

What I really admire is that success even then was defined by more than winning. Winning is key in today’s corporate culture but many people differ on their thoughts and approaches to achieving victory.

It was very interesting to revisit the importance of the human element specifically the human psyche and how vital “fullness” is to success on the battlefield and the boardroom.

Some of the other interesting concepts are as follows:

One of the principles outlined was the importance of “fullness”. Fullness is when leadership and subordinates are of like mind and operate together. Emptiness is the presence of rifts and dissatisfaction within the team. If this exists it is difficult to achieve the overall objective. It is important to empower your team so that “fullness” may be realized.

Regarding leadership “Leaders plan in the beginning when they do things” and “Leaders consider problems and prevent them”. This speaks to the importance of planning and having a clear understanding of more than just what is directly in front of you.

In terms of defining leadership Sun Tzu stated that Leadership is a matter of intelligence (plan and know) , trustworthiness , humaneness (Compassion), courage (Seize opportunities to make certain of victory), and sternness (establish discipline).

Make yourself invincible, and then watch for vulnerability in their opponents. This really speaks to the importance of knowing yourself, strengths and weaknesses. Thus recognize areas where you are weak and make them strong.

The success of military operations was dependent on the harmony of the people. This is directly applicable to business today as those in harmony will contribute naturally, without being exhorted to do so.

And finally it is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached individual who wins. Not those seeking vengeance or ambitious seekers of fortune.

“So a military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: the ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius.”

If you have not read it I would recommend it. It is a quick read and it is interesting to see how little has actually changed in terms of what is required to be successful in any competitive situation.

Skate 2 & Skate It

skateIt is now official to discuss that Electronic Arts Skate franchise will release 2 new titles.

Skate It for the Wii leveraging the Wii fitboard will arrive late in 2008 and the highly anticipated Skate 2 for the 360 will hit stores in 2009.

In mid April I was in Vancouver meeting with various EA teams at their Blackbox Studio including members of the Skate team. I had the opportunity to play an early build of Skate 2 on the 360 and it was phenomenal. More details to come once made public by EA.

Otherwise, Vancouver was great. In fact some of the best coffee that I have had in a long time was at Caffe Artigiano.

Telligent Named “Best Place to Work” in 2008

I mentioned previously that Telligent was one of the few companies selected as Best Place to Work in DFW by the Dallas Business Journal.

Last week was the official luncheon and awards ceremony to find out exactly where we placed in our category and overall. So, Rob, Jason, Scott & I went to represent the team. It was an interesting event as I definitely did not expect the turnout that was on hand. There was easily over 1000 people in attendance and each of the winners received a short introduction and a few tidbits about some of the interesting offerings that keep their employees happy.

In our category of small business we finished in the top 10 and Telligent finished 11th overall out of a record 270 companies that qualified for the award.

Telligent was also one of 12 companies featured in the recently published “Best Places to Work” supplement.

2008 DBJ

Looking back at the culture of Telligent that led to this award and the new leadership now guiding the company I highly doubt that this will be repeated anytime soon.

Proximity Marketing

apple-iphoneI recently attended a customer brand loyalty summit and saw some interesting things & met some very interesting people. One of the topics discussed during a networking session was the next progression associated with marketing and mobile devices.

A lot of us are glued to our phones (Or iPhones) as I have talked about before. With more and more consolidation of devices it is not a leap that the next progression will extend from the device being the primary focus of reach to incorporate other services around the device.

Soon your mobile device will go from being your portable music player/phone/organizer to housing digital coupons, boarding passes for flights and credit cards (bye bye wallet). This is already prevalant in tech-centric societies such as Japan, but with the mobile adoption rates at the highest they have ever been here domestically combined with an increase in the level of sophistication and comfort from end-users, more and more emphasis will be put on mobile devices.

From a marketing perspective this can become very interesting. We have seen the shift from mass marketing to individual marketing where the user is now king (or queen) in controlling the messages that they want to see. The next step in proximity marketing is to have users opt in to their likes and allow for the location or an event to market to the user when they reach a certain proximity to a location.

For example. I drink a lot of Starbucks. I can opt in that I like Starbucks. The next time I am driving/walking close to a Starbucks I might receive a ringback reminding me that I am close to Starbucks and a Grande Green Tea Latte might be good at this point in time.

This will not work for all organizations but it is the next step in how marketers and brands will reach beyond traditional methods and delivery and further incorporate technology while respecting the end-users ability to choose the messages that allow in.

OMMA & Social Networking

I recently attended the OMMA Global marketing conference in Hollywood, California. Some of the top talent from the marketing industry was there recently to discuss the current state of online marketing, media and advertising. The Event featured a number of session tracks that each followed a specific category (e.g. media, advertising, etc..) as well as an expo that featured a wide array of organizations from social networking providers to Perez Hilton.

The focus of this two day event was to discuss the latest trends and technology that can enable marketers to excel in the ever-changing media landscape. Hot topics were how to apply social networking solutions into campaigns as well as a strong emphasis on monetization of widgets.

Some very interesting data was shared during the sessions such as in 2008 the rate of consumer adoption of social networking to internet users has reached 43.5%. Meaning 43.5% of users are involved with some type of social network. The issue for marketers though is that only 5.7% of marketing spend is being applied to reach these consumers through their social networks. With consumer adoption continuing to rise it is only a matter of time before the marketing spend around social networking solutions will begin to close the gap.

The #1 reason for the difference in % is an inherent lack of standard metric consistency. The old guard of methodology based on CTR (Click-Through-Rate) is not working for defining value around Social solutions. Focus on Social Analytics means that a big step has been taken in providing consistency by focusing not on CTR but on the actual commuinty data by providing in-depth analysis of the latest trends that lead to successfully defining ROI on a given campaign initiative.

Another interesting topic that was discussed was that there is a lot of channel confusion. Meaning a number of marketers do not fully understand how to deploy social media solutions. There are a number of options. White label & SaaS Social Networking platforms, User generated content specific applications, etc… my recommendation is to find a solution that provides an integrated platform with a flexible UI that allows for flexibility to deploy the applications that are relevant for your clients needs but one that also has a strong reporting engine as consistent metrics are the key to defining a successful campaign. Also, depending on your client you may want to position a solution that scales to meet the potential demand.

Finally, one of the other hot topics of discussion around marketing and social networking was the concern around communication control. There is uncertainty about how to manage brand messages when deploying social media solutions. As Rob Howard has stated before, conversations matter. Your customers are going to talk about you whether you have a social networking presence or not. There are ways to control communication such as positioning moderated blogs instead of more collaborative applications where the organization is controlling more of the publishing and the user has less control over the brand. But ultimately we have found that transparency can be a very good thing for businesses as it can reveal a face to the brand that might otherwise miss the crucial connection with end users who are in even more control of the messages that they receive.

It appears that social networking applied to business is about to truly enter the mainstream in terms of marketing budget allocations as the consumers have spoken and shown that they are interested in this style of collaboration. The challenge for the marketers is to develop engaging campaigns that compliment the daily activities of users. One thing is for certain though it is going to be a fun ride!

Telligent Voted One of the Best Places to Work in 2008

BPTW - 2008When I first heard the news that we were one of the winners of the “Best Places to work in DFW” (announced in the March 14th print edition) I did one of those cheesy jumps you would see in a very cliché movie. Person 1 gets great news/wins the game/something worth jumping about and then well… jumps… luckily that moment is not frozen in time nor will a dramatic montage highlighting random events that led to the jump be playing on YouTube anytime soon. Although you may want to check out our many Tellicasts

Luckily I was at home when I got the news and spared everyone from watching my
limited vertical leaping skillz in action.

In all seriousness it is a great accomplishment as we were selected out of 270 other companies and speaks to how we value our
employees and focus on providing a work environment that is not only fun but
allows for professional growth and personal satisfaction. It may sound like a
cliché but when we say we work hard and play hard we actually do.

Even as we continue to grow we look for specific personality types that fit the
mold of a Telligenti. If I were to summarize what makes a Telligenti it is
someone who is not only a rockstar in their discipline but someone who is a
humble team player. Someone who is willing to do what is necessary to ensure
that they not only deliver to the best of their ability but are always willing
to assist other team members regardless of group or title.

You will also find a person who is driven and goal oriented and always looking
to improve. Rob Howard our CEO recently summed it up by saying. “We are built
on the fact that our teams comprised of A level performers” meaning we want the
best-of-the-best. Individuals that have the positional proficiency and soft-skills
to interact efficiently within our organizational structure.

You will not find egos with this team nor will you find traditional divisions
that are prevalent with other companies (i.e. sales vs. delivery, etc.). What
you will find is a group of individuals who are all working towards the same
goal of developing incredible products and delivering the best solutions for
our clients while having a great time doing it.

One of the main elements that we as Telligent leadership try to ensure is that
our employees work environment is conducive to open communication and feedback, self-driven work schedules and the fact that the leadership of the company has a focus on maintaining our culture as we grow as well as ensure that decisions are about the well-being of our team members and not just the bottom-line of the business.

You can see it when you walk in the door. The CEO’s office is the same size as
all the others and our CTO resides in an open area with our interns. You won’t
find luxurious furniture, an executive break area or any other old school
vestige representing an organizational caste system. The focus is on the
individual employee not differentiating based on role.

In addition to the pranks (Cardboard RobRobbleheads), monthly Frag nights,
food and drinks throughout the week and occasional company outings . It is no wonder Telligent was voted one of the best places to work in DFW area by the Dallas Business Journal because it is!!!

Congratulations to everyone. You are a phenomenal team to work with!

Interview with Major Nelson

During GDC 2008 I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb of the Xbox Live team. Larry is the Director of Xbox Live Programming and is the author of one of the most popular gaming blogs on the web. Between posts, blogcasts and twitter Major keeps everyone up to date on the latest information on all things Xbox.

The focus of the interview was to get Larry’s thoughts on the keys to his success as well as his thoughts around social media and the future.

TheBlackFin: You have one of the highest trafficked blogs on the web today. What has been the key to your success?

Major Nelson: Since the beginning this has been about being a part of the conversation. With any blogging the ability to connect with the audience with relevant content is the key to success.

TheBlackFin: Describe some of the interesting trends that you have seen with your blog from the time you originally published it through today.

Major Nelson: The integration of the gamertag has been key since the beginning . The ability for gamers to publish their gamertag and tie in to the Xbox achievement system and publically display their gamerscore has been one of the most important elements to building community around Xbox gaming.

TheBlackFin: How do you think your blog has enhanced the Xbox Live brand?

Major Nelson: The blog has allowed us to have a conversation.  As one of the highest trafficked gaming blogs doing podcasts and blogging it has enabled real time communication. As you know this audience is rabid about information and they want to consume it in almost real time.

TheBlackFin: In your opinion… What impact has social networking and community in general had on the gaming industry?

Major Nelson: Social Networking has had a phenomenal impact on the industry. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Xbox Live is a premier social network. Everyday hundreds of thousands of users log on to play with their friends, compare gamer scores and connect with other gamers. With the integration between the consoles and Xbox.com it extends the experience beyond the console.  Also a lot of external applications are now picking up gaming data… you see different applications on MySpace and Facebook.

TheBlackFin: What publisher and game title has been successful in deploying a good social networking gaming experience?

Major Nelson: Without a doubt it would be Bungie and Halo. Online and offline what bungie has done to include the community has just been amazing.

TheBlackFin: What are your predictions around social networking trends and gaming in the next few years?

Major Nelson: I think we are going to see more of the game/web interaction like Bungie has done with Halo and Electronic Arts with Skate. Look at how they take in game data and spray it back to the web and allow users to collaborate with it. What Bungie has done is the tip of the iceberg. More and more publishers are recognizing the value of having a seamless experience between the game and the web.

Me with “the Major” @ GDC 2008
Tom Edwards with Major Nelson

GDC 2008 – Expo Day 1

GDC2008The 2008 Game Developer Conference has been a great conference so far. Most of the major industry players are here. Microsoft, Sony, Electronic Arts, Disney, Ubisoft, Activison and a host others. After the first few days of the conference focused on a number of sessions and events today marked the beginning of the Expo portion of the conference.

The technology that was on display was cutting edge and amazing. From motion capture demonstrations to the latest in animation technology including demonstrations by Natural Motion of their Dynamic Motion Synthesis Euphoria product which will be big role in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Grand Theft Auto IV. To a host of demonstrations from organizations that are looking to take gaming to the next level. From brain wave centric gaming to you as the controller the evolution of gaming is close at hand.

G4 and the X-Play team are here broadcasting as well as Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb. This has been a very informative event thus far and I look forward to tomorrows sessions, hitting the expo floor again and meeting with the EA team.

There will be more photos posted in the photo gallery soon.

Me with a Big Daddy from Bioshock
Tom Edwards with Big Daddy from Bioshock - Blog

Telligent Graffiti CMS 1.0 Now Available

Taking a moment away from GDC 2008, I wanted to announce that our latest product Telligent Graffiti CMS 1.0 is now available! You can download it here: http://get.graffiticms.com/

Graffiti is a lightweight, simple content publishing system you can use to quickly and easily publish a blog or an entire web site. It blends together traditional CMS tools like revision history and workflow with more modern blog-style publishing. Graffiti is available as both a free Express Edition as well as several commercial editions.

We’re also happy to announce the new Graffiti Marketplace where you can download new themes and functionality for your Graffiti site. We’ve already published several themes that were created for Graffiti 1.0. You can also browse and install new features from the Graffiti Marketplace all within Graffiti itself!

Thanks to everyone at Telligent as well as all of our beta testers and customers that have taken the time to try out this new product.

Building software is easy. Building easy to use software is hard. We think Graffiti is in the latter category. The team has spent countless hours working to make Graffiti really simple and intuitive.  We really hope you enjoy Graffiti!

Frequent Questions:

What is required to run Graffiti?

Graffiti requires Microsoft .NET 2.0 or later running on Windows or Mono* running on Windows, Linux, Apple, etc. Graffiti uses VistaDB as the default database but also support Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, and MySQL. More details here.

* additional announcements around Mono support are forthcoming. Full support of Mono should be available in the next release of Mono (1.9?) although Graffiti 1.0 has been tested with Mono v1.2.6.

How do Graffiti and Community Server work together?

They don’t. Graffiti is optimized for individuals and small groups whereas Community Server is optimized for large Enterprise social networking sites. For example, if you are running a single blog Graffiti is better. If you are managing more than 1 blog Community Server is better.

Is Graffiti free?

Graffiti is available as both a commercially supported product ($399 for 10 user license) as well as a free Express Edition designed for individuals.

How does user licensing work?

A license is required for each user that wants to publish content within Graffiti. There are no limits to the number of readers!

What is coming in the next release of Graffiti?

Stay tuned to graffiticms.com for details :)

GDC 2008

GDC2008I am in transit to San Francisco to attend the Game Developers Conference 2008.

I look forward to the numerous sessions and networking as well as all of the latest and greatest gaming demonstrations during the expo portion of the conference.

On Wednesday I will begin my blog coverage of GDC 2008 as that is when the Expo gets underway.

On deck is an interview with Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb discussing his thoughts about the impact of Social Networking and gaming as well as insight into the keys to success of his blog.

Army Strong

One of the things that has truly shaped my life and served as a foundation for me to be a truly productive, successful adult was my time in the military. In the early 90’s I entered the US Army Reserve early entry program. I was a junior in High School and started preparations for training after I graduated.

My first taste of active duty was basic training at Fort Knox, KY and I learned what it would take to become a soldier. It was more than the physical… 90% of it was mental toughness and understanding how to play the game. Growing up in a military household allowed me to take to the rigid structure like a fish to water. I was a member of the 2nd platoon Ironmen and we were rough and tough and invincible (at least in our 17 year old minds). Those 8 weeks were physically and mentally demanding but I loved every minute of it.

Next in my career was AIT (Advanaced Individual Training). I had always had an interest in medicine so I leaned that direction when selecting my primary military discipline. I was a 91B which was a combat medic. I trained at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio TX and it was a complete 180 from the 8 weeks of training I had just experienced. The focus was more on the classroom as we learned how to work as a team and serve our fellow soldiers by putting their lives and needs ahead of our own. It is a great lesson in humility and empathy for your fellow soldiers.

As I progressed through my career a few moments stand out… winning the battalion soldier of the year in 1996. Receiving my sergeant stripes at the age of 20 and probably the thing I am the most proud of which are my jump wings.

I had a rare opportunity that is normally not available to a US Army Reserve soldier. As a member of the University of Oklahoma ROTC program as well as a member of the US Army Reserve I was able to secure a spot to attend jump school at Ft. Benning, GA. This was the toughest 3 weeks of training of my life. Upon arrival there were 300 members in our class. By the time we were finished only 125 soldiers completed the course.

From the hours of physical training in saw dust pits to the actual jump training on how to exit the aircraft, land and control your chute it was a physically grueling experience. Nothing compares to the few moments of calm after you exit the aircraft and clear the prop wash of the C-130 and your chute is fully deployed. There are a few seconds as you look out at the sun on the horizon that the world just seems to stand still… then reality or rather gravity comes into play and you land like a sack of potatoes.

I look back fondly on my military experiences. I made great friends and even more importantly I learned what it would take to be successful in all aspects of life.

A blast from the past… that is me in the red beret next to my best Army buddy Adam shortly after I finished Jump School.

Adam & Tom - Army - 700

Nike Super Bowl Event

Tonight was the Nike Super Bowl Event and it was the highlight of the trip thus far. A special thanks to BK for the invite and introduction to AD that made the trip for me. Basically any athlete that is associated with Nike Football or will be associated with Nike Football was at this particular event along with Nike corporate as well as a few of our friends from Microsoft.

The list was impressive: Adrian Peterson, Ben Roethlisberger, Jim Kelly, Warrick Dunn, Desmond Howard, and T.J. Houshmanzada to name a few. Others in attendance, Alice Cooper and Cowboy Troy.

When not focusing on business I spent time talking to Sooner Alumni and current Chicago Bear JD Runnels and current OU TE Joe John Finley and of course with Adrian Peterson. For those that don’t know me I bleed crimson and cream and the opportunity to meet one of the greatest Sooner running backs of all time was worth the trip.

Tom Edwards with Adrian Peterson - 640

Golf with The Gridiron Greats

Besides Madden Bowl XIV yesterday it was day two of assisting the Gridiron Greats cause. The morning brought a very moving press conference with 50 Gridiron Greats, 35 of which are Hall of Fame players. They gave moving testimony as Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and Michael Irvin all spoke about why this means so much to so many former players.

Later in the day brought the Gridiron Greats Golf event where the grand prize was a pair of Super Bowl XLII tickets. During the awards ceremony I had the priviledge to speak with Mike Ditka, Jim Marshall, and Jan Stenerud about their thoughts around the current situation facing those players left to fend for themselves.

This has been a great experience in that the passion that these men feel for this issue really comes through in their words. There are times when tears begin to gather and emotions start running high. These men, especially the older players paved the way and made the game what it is today. They gave their bodies and did not receive the generous salaries of today’s players. It is amazing how much this organization has accomplished in just one short year. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Mike Ditka
Ditka 2 - 640

Jan Stenerud
Jan Stenerud - 640

Madden Bowl XIV

Madden Bowl - XIVTonight was the invite only Madden Bowl XIV put on by the Electronic Arts Tiburon team. It was a great event. A number of NFL stars squared off to see who would be the Madden Bowl XIV champ. Kellen Winslow Jr., Willis McGahee, Marshawn Lynch, Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, Jason Whitten and others all virtually took the field to see who would win the coveted Madden Bowl trophy.

After a few rounds the finals came down to Willis McGahee and Marshawn Lynch. McGahee took home the coveted Madden Trophy 43-7.

The event was being blogged live by Will “Raczilla” Kinsler, Madden community manager.

Will Kinsler - 640

Also, It was great to hang out with Mike “MJ” Johnson (Below) and Reg Hamlett of EA Sports and all of their associates during the event.

Tom Edwards - MJ

Super Bowl XLII

gridironIt has been confirmed that I will be going to Arizona for a week of events for Super Bowl XLII.

I will be supporting the Gridiron Greats assistance fund. The fund was created by Mike Ditka, Willie Davis, Harry Carson, Gale Sayers and others. The fund benefits retired players in need.

The Super Bowl XLII events will bring together the largest gathering of NFL legends and Hall of Famers to date. Some of the attendees will include the likes of Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Marshall Faulk, Gale Sayers and over 50 others. This is a great cause and we wanted to provide support by offering our products and services.

The week will be filled with events which will include Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats dinner of champions, Gridiron Greats Golf Event, Celebrity Poker Event and a Gridiron Greats Super Jam and I will bring you blog coverage from the various events as present and past NFL players blog about the events on our platform.

In addition to the Gridiron Greats there will be the NFL Experience theme events,  an invite to a Nike Event and an invite to EA’s Madden Bowl (Thanks MJ) that will also be on the agenda.

It should be a great week!

Mike Ditka’s Dinner of Champions

Today kicked off a series of events here in Scottsdale, Arizona. I am here to support the Gridiron Greats throughout the week for various events. Tonight kicked off with Mike Ditka’s Dinner of Champions. With over 50 NFL legends in attendance this was one of the largest gatherings of NFL HOF players all to support a very worthy cause.

During the event I served as the blogging admin for http://blog.gridirongreats.org and assisted various NFL legends including Gale Sayers, Mel Renfro, and Tim Harris as well as other NFL players such as Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Andre Reed, and Kyle Turley discuss their thoughts about the current issues facing retired NFL players today.

Mike Ditka
Tom Edwards - Mike Ditka - 640

Gale Sayers
Tom Edwards - Gale Sayers - 640

Daryl “Moose” Johnston
Tom Edwards - Daryl Moose Johnston - 640

CES 2008 In Closing

It is great to be back in Dallas! CES 2008 was a great event. From the Bill Gates hilarious “last day video” to all of the robots, gadgets and celebrities. CES is a definite must attend event for any tech/gadget lover.

Being the avid gamer that I am I was disappointed that there was not a larger presence from the gaming industry on hand for the event. The show was dominated by Home and Audio products. There was a “gaming showcase” area but it was mainly filled with resellers and start-ups. There was not a lot to be seen. Granted CES occurs after E3 but it would have been nice to have more of a presence. The only major studio that I saw was Activision and they had a very small presence at the event.

One of the most impressive sites of the show was a “life size” version of the Autobot Bumblebee on the showroom floor. The level of detail and the scale of the piece definitely made you take notice.

Tom Edwards with Bumblebee

The only issue if you can call it one is that you definitely notice that there are 130,000 people in a confined space. There are times when you are pretty packed into a small space all vying for a glimpse of the latest and greatest but you have time to see all that you want to see.

Until Next year… Viva Las Vegas… Thank you… Thank you very much!!!

Tom Edwards with Elvis

CES Day 3

Coming to you live from Las Vegas at CES 2008. Today was another good day. After some early meetings with the Microsoft Vista team and the High Tech team it was on to the convention floor for additional networking.

There were 35 football fields worth of booths and exhibits. There was a very large focus on Audio and Home Theater with some of the best booth experiences coming from Panasonic, Samsung, LG and Sharp. Others went for sheer size…. Sony, Microsoft, Intel and HP all had significant space dedicated to them. There were some truly amazing products and innovations. LG had the thinnest flat screen television that I have ever seen and the war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD was being waged on the showroom floor. I will be posting a number of photos from the event in the photo gallery soon.

There was a lot to see as business was conducted on the show floor. I also had the opportunity to meet up with Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb today as well as we discussed next steps regarding his blog. It is always great to talk to Larry. Be sure to check out his blog and podcast. He is the insider for all things Xbox.

Tomorrow will be my last day at the event and it will be the final push through the crowds of people and booths. It has been a great event so far and I look forward to talking to my targeted list of booths to close out the event.

Me with Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb at CES 2008
Tom Edwards with MajorNelson

CES Day 2

Hello from Las Vegas. Today was another eventful day in Las Vegas. For most of the day I met again with the Microsoft High Tech Sales teams. Later in the day we did hit the expo floor here in the Venetian. The Panasonic “life wall” presentation was the most impressive of the day.

About 10% of the expo resides in the venetian but it was still as large of an expo as most standard conferences. There were all types of devices from Robots to data storage to replica Halo 3 plasma rifles. It was good to network and to see all of the great items. I have to say though there has been a serious lack of swag thus far. Of course with 130,000 attendees the goodies are few and far between.

Tomorrow we will hit the main expo hall. I will meet with Major Nelson as well as some other pre-arranged meetings. It should be a great day!!!

CES Day 1

Coming to you live from the Palazzo in Las Vegas… Day one is now in the books. Registration, networking and Rock Band were the orders of the day.

The focus of today was to meet with all of the Microsoft Sales reps that service the High Tech industry (~125 in attendance). After watching Bill Gates final keynote speech it was on to the Rock Band rock off. For those of you that don’t know Rock Band think Guitar Hero with drums and karaoke. We were to recruit members from the Microsoft to join our band and me and 3 Microsoftees made it to the finals. We put up the highest score of the night in the final during our set but ultimately lost the title (and the custom Zune prizes) to a team of seasoned Rock Band veterans. It was still a lot of fun though!

Tomorrow will be more networking with the Microsoft teams and then on to the CES expo hall as well as a meeting with Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb of the Xbox team.

So far the conference has gotten off to a good start. Below is a pic of our “band” that’s me with the glasses on lead guitar :P.

Tom Edwards - CES 2008 Rock Band Battle - 1

Viva Finata

FinataIt seems as though the pranks here at Telligent never end. Granted I may have occassionally pulled a prank or two but I was not expecting what happened today.

My team put together a lunch for the company on behalf of the sales & marketing departments. There was tortilla soup, chips, dip, cookies and to my surprise a Tom piñata complete with Starbucks and iPhone.

I got to take the first swing and let’s just say after the Oklahoma game last night in the Fiesta Bowl I was ready to unleash on it… the contents then exploded across the conference room floor.

I have to give the team credit! I was definitely not expecting this. Viva Fiñata!!!!

Fun on a Friday – Part 2

A few months ago we introduced the world to “Cardboard Rob“. Today, we unveiled “Bobblehead Rob”. In the ever escalating pranks on Rob Howard, CEO of Telligent Systems a.k.a. our fearless leader, I crafted a plan a few months ago to come up with the ultimate, tasteful office prank. Careful planning and multiple iterations went into the creation of “Bobblehead Rob”. From the clay models to the final paint approval. Each step of the way focusing on authenticity and realism. I was very satisfied with the end result.

This morning, Rob walked into his office only to be greeted by an army of… “Bobblehead Rob’s”. Yes, he has been immortalized in small ceramic, nodding statues. His initial reaction was one of shock and bewilderment as a future Telligent tellicast will reveal. But today Rob came face to face with…. well.. himself.

If you act in the next 7 days, you too can own your own Rob Howard Bobblehead. Supplies are limited.

IMG_3017

2008 & Beyond

Strategic planning, execution and constant measurement are the key factors in taking an organization from good to great. Currently each member of the Telligent leadership team is drafting a business plan for their respective areas of the business. That means I had the privilege to prepare 3 (Product Sales, Services Sales, & Marketing). The focus of the documents are to review goals to close out FY07, but more importantly to define a roadmap of where we expect to be and how we expect to get there in 3 years.

This exercise is key as with any organization that handles the amount of business that we do you can get caught up in the day-to-day activities and not necessarily keep a razor sharp focus on where we need to go. We have outlined aggressive but achievable revenue goals and expectations and it is a great exercise to pause and take a macro view of the organization to ensure that all teams are working towards the same objectives.

I look forward to the presentations on Monday and more importantly the specific action items that will result from the meeting. This is a very exciting time as 2008 looks to be another phenomenal year across all areas of the organization.

Did You Know?

Taking from an old ESPN Sportscenter segment, I thought it would be an appropriate title for this discussion. With more and more people plugging in to social networking sites like MySpace it is becoming a tool used by organizations to scout potential interview candidates prior to ever meeting them in person.

Normally it is the individual who is being interviewed that researches the organization and if available the bio of the person who will be conducting the interview. But with the flood of personal information that is now available it is the employer who is researching the potential candidate.

A hiring decision is one that requires a significant investment in an individual and a one hour meeting here and there does not always allow you as a decision maker to have all of the information necessary to make a hiring decision. Most candidates put their best foot forward and are actively trying to make a good impression. It is interesting to read blogs of potential candidates and how they interact with others. As I have stated before a resume is a foot in the door, but it is how you will fit within the culture of the organization that is also very important. And that is difficult to determine within the limited amount of time allocated to the recruiting process.

So my word of advice is to be mindful of what you make publicly available as it is just that publicly available. It is not only your peers that read what you have to say. Prospective employers are very interested as well.

Announcing Social Networking

Starting August 29th Telligent will host a monthly breakfast at our office in Dallas as an interest group for Social Networking and Communities.

What is it?

It’s not going to be technical. Visual Studio won’t get opened. What it will be is a fun conversation with like-minded people about topics related to social networking and communities all centered around how these concepts and technologies can be applied successfully for organizations.

Where is it?

We’ll have the first meeting at our office in Dallas, TX, but we’re going to video-cast (not live) too. If it takes off we may even do a small road-show.

Who is it for?

It’s for anyone that is interested in these topics. It’s going to be more about “how do I make this stuff work for me” and less about “how does the technology work”. For example, our first topic is going to be Blogging in your Business. We’ll talk about how tools such as blogs promote transparency and really open some news ways for you to talk to customers or employees.

What is the format?

8:00 – 8:30 – Light breakfast (coffee, bagels, etc.)

8:30 – 9:30 – Blogging in your business, Rob Howard

9:30 – 10:00 – Open discussion

Where Are We?

In our mini-van, yes I know I just lost major street-cred by referencing the fact that my wife and I do in-fact own a min-van, but it’s a fully loaded mini-van thank you very much!!! We have built-in navigation and DVD systems for the kids.

Now instead of actually paying attention to where I am going, I am mindlessly following the directions given to me by the authoritative female voice and glowing maps. As my brain wanders, thinking about parenting, profitability and ROI analysis, Xbox 360 gaming and what’s for dinner, I realize that if we suddenly lost power to the nav system I would have no idea how to find where I am going.

Thinking about this and the High-Tech industry in general and reading Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm I began to think about the importance of not only understanding where you are going but more importantly how are you going to get there.

We at Telligent are at a crossroads. We are almost upon the transition from the Innovators and Early Adopters to the pragmatic Early Majority in terms of product adoption. Marketers are good at identifying fads and even better at exploiting trends. We are currently in the middle of a major trend which is the collaborative boom of Web 2.0 solutions. And Telligent is definitely on the forefront of providing the needs to those Innovators and Early Adopters. With success implementing solutions and providing Community Server to organizations such as: Disney, MSNBC, Dell, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Intel, Mazda, Honda, Adidas, Lego, etc… We have laid the foundation to successfully cross over to the upcoming Early Majority.

But the Early Majority requires different messaging and they are less concerned with the technology and more concerned with ease of use, support and referrals from others in the Early Majority. This is one of the key areas where High-Tech companies fail. They see the growth in sales between Innovators and Early Adopters and they ramp up their teams and expect big revenue numbers to continue to spike, what they do not count on is the potential marketing pitfall that occurs between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority.

The Early Majority is a very important segment during the product adoption life-cycle. If you catch the wave between Early Adopters to the Early Majority this is where true success starts to materialize.

What we are seeing from organizations is that the Early Adopters were looking for an edge on the competition and now they have found a way to leverage collaborative solutions and engrain them into their marketing strategy. Now the Early Majority is taking note of the trend and patiently waiting to see what best practices arise.

The one thing to keep in mind in all of this is that it is not always the best product that gets selected by the Early Majority, it is normally the products that can market themselves in such a way and are continuous in their innovation that they speak directly to the needs of the Early Majority and are not as disruptive as the competition that they in turn cash in with market share. We at Telligent have the premier collaborative solution in Community Server. The next step is ensuring that we speak to the Early Majority and let them know exactly why it is the best. The rest will take care of itself.