How To Remain Agile In the Face of Change

I was recently a member of the opening keynote panel for the iMedia Agency Summit discussing the topic “How to Remain Agile in the Face of Change”.

Key Commentary from 15:08 – 19:00

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We discussed many topics including what the agency of the future will look like, mergers and acquisitions and I went into detail outlining cross-company collaboration and innovation.

imedia agency summit - Tom Edwards - agile change

Here is an excerpt from an iMedia panel recap and my additional commentary:

Tom Edwards, EVP of digital strategy and innovation at The Marketing Arm, stressed looking to develop subject matter expertise horizontally as well as vertically within your agency, and what he viewed as the three most important elements of success:

Curation, Creation, and Education.

“I’m a big believer in content creation, especially at the junior level, and developing their own personal brand,”

The agency of the near future will be highly consultative. “There needs to be a shift in strategy from transactional to transformational”

iMedia Summit - Tom Edwards

“Our role is to be the digital navigator and strategic partner with our clients. This includes mapping against a non-linear path to purchase that aligns with data, content, channels and value.”

RE: Innovation, “Ultimately we are focused on aligning the art + science as well as develop future models to enable brand partners with new methodologies to integrating emerging technology that provides business value”

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Apple Watch Arrives Today What Marketers Should Know

Today is the day many of us have been waiting for. Today the Apple Watch will arrive. I was on a flight from NYC yesterday when I received the news that I would in fact receive my Apple Watch on launch day.

Apple Watch Shipping

After weeks of diving into the WatchKit SDK and watching each new update description and how brands were creating new Apple Watch experiences I went to my local Apple Store for a personal fitting.

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This was my first exposure to the hardware

I get very excited on Apple launch days. When an Apple white box arrives on my doorstep I take great care in the unboxing of the product.

Apple Watch Unboxing

Today was no different as it was a very smooth setup process. A review will be forthcoming.

Tom Edwards Apple Watch

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to outline the opportunity for marketers and the Apple Watch.

Mobile Marketer Apple Watch

(Mobile Marketer) How big is the opportunity for marketers in apps for the Apple Watch?

(Tom) “The Apple Watch provides a great opportunity to extend unique app use cases by leveraging the capabilities of the Apple Watch hardware and the WatchKit SDK.  The key to fully unlocking it’s potential will be driven by marketers ability to create optimal user experiences built on relevant behavioral touch points and value connections with consumers.

(Mobile Marketer) What do marketers need to keep in mind in considering or having apps for the Apple Watch?

(Tom) “One key area to consider are actionable notifications. The Apple watch will support short term and long term notifications. Long term notifications support app-defined actions, so it is feasible to leverage functionality from the app directly from the notification bypassing another step for the consumer.”

(Mobile Marketer) Is an Apple Watch app something every marketer should have?

(Tom) “I would not say that every marketer needs an apple watch, but any marketer that focuses on content creation or distribution should take note of user behavior after launch and fully understand how to create an ideal experience on the platform. 

(Mobile Marketer) What are the hottest topics or category of apps you have seen for the Apple Watch?

(Tom) “Content delivery apps such as Buzzfeed and Flipboard as well as retail apps such as Target and Starbucks are all prepping for the release on the 24th. Buzzfeed is focused on delivering daily polls which may work well as they are short form. Flipboard is focusing on providing summaries of news stories and using the handoff feature to allow for consumption of long form content. Starbucks is porting many of the iPhone app features into the Apple Watch such as store locators and paying with passbook.”

(Mobile Marketer) Are there any examples of Apple Watch apps that seem especially noteworthy?

(Tom) “The Target Apple Watch App looks interesting as not only will it provide list building within the application, it will also provide value while in-store by mapping the location of the items on your list and the glance option will provide simple utility by seeing if the store is open, how many items are on your list, and how many may have deals associated with them.”

I am truly excited to dive into the various use cases that are being deployed today and how we can create new ones for our marketing partners.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Virtual Reality A Reality At SXSW 2015

Another year, another SXSW Interactive is in the books. Each year I look to get inspired, reconnect with publishers and 3rd party partners and look for new or incremental innovation that can add value for my clients. This year, one of the areas that caught my attention was the advancement of 3rd party integration and applications tied to virtual reality experiences.

In 2014, one SXSW exhibit in particular received a lot of attention for creating an immersive Virtual Reality Game of Thrones experience courtesy of Oculus Rift. 2015 did have it’s share of branded experiences tied to Oculus, see Samsung below, but a majority of 3rd parties were focused on showcasing how they create value through integrating VR and mobile devices as they prepare to go to market.

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Samsung – I had the opportunity to experience the Samsung Gear VR headset while at SXSW. The Samsung Gear VR is powered by an Oculus Rift headset that integrates with the Galaxy Note 4. The approach of serving as an extension of an existing device that can scale through various media and applications is the right approach to allow optimal personalization of experiences through devices and media entities that consumers already consume.

The #GalaxyLife VR exhibit was a rich experience that I definitely enjoyed.  My tour featured a Mountain Dew branded snowboarding adventure. There are pros and cons to the experience as it was immersive, although the audio was a bit lacking. If you have not tried the core Oculus Rift experience and this was your first foray into VR it is an impressive experience and for the average consumer, consuming media, be it VR cinema, gaming or 360 degree experiences can all be achieved through the Samsung Gear headset.

This type of VR experience is ideal for branded integrations as the experiences are tied to the mobile device and with the right SDK, it is possible to extend immersive content experiences through the Samsung Gear VR.

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Google – One of the more unique takes on a similar premise to the Samsung Gear VR came from Google. Google Cardboard is a simple, inexpensive way to enjoy VR based experiences through either Android or iPhone devices. When the Google team handed me the device, it was about the size of an iPad Mini. After a few minutes of folding I had an instant VR viewer that I could view media from VRSE or other Google Cardboard supported applications.

As with most things Google, there are Android and Unity SDK’s available to easily integrate Cardboard into existing VR applications to ensure that it is supported. The experience is surprising rich and the fact that it is inexpensive and also supports iPhone VR applications is a plus. Google Cardboard is a great tool to introduce younger audiences to enhanced VR experiences. It definitely passed the test with my crew of 12, 10 and 7 years of age. And with the simple design, I am not concerned about how they would handle the device.

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Intel and 3rd Parties – The SXSW Gaming Pavilion featured multiple extensions of the Oculus hardware with various groups working to create new integrations that could bridge the gap between traditional gaming and VR. Intel and CybertronPC showcased one of CybertronPC’s gaming rigs that supported an Oculus experience. This experience drew quite a crowd as onlookers wanted to catch a glimpse of PC gaming + Oculus.

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Another 3rd party that caught my attention was Sixense’s STEM System. This was a Full-Body Presence VR system vs. just an Oculus Visual experience. The system provides motion controls, haptic feedback and additional spatial awareness in the VR experience to create a full body controlled experience in game. The demo featured a light saber duel, think Microsoft Kinect in terms of open space, body controlled motion but with a fully immersive Oculus Rift visual experience.

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We are inching closer to mass consumer availability and I have been impressed how much has been developed within a single year. I still have my doubts as to whether or not Facebook’s Oculus Rift based experiences as they exist today will appeal to the mainstream consumer. We are still at the nascent stage of the technology and I do believe that augmented, virtual reality and digital overlays will become a part of our lives as some point in the next 10 years it just may not be a bulky headset, it may be something as simple as a bionic contact lens.

Bionic-Contact-Lenses-3

I definitely enjoyed playing with the new hardware and look forward to what the future may bring at SXSW 2016.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Internet of Things: Beacons Panel

On February 10th I was a part of a Media Post panel discussing the Internet of Things and how beacons can be leveraged by brands to create value.

The discussion focused on going beyond the beacon trigger and creating new models of in-store creative advertising that connect physical to digital. We touched on strategy, creative, technology and best practices.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Here is a quick breakdown of topics I address:

  • Introduction – The Marketing Arm – 1:22-1:53
  • Dealing with complexity of omnichannel – 2:36-3:58
  • Deeper dive into beacon deployment – 3:58-6:24
  • Creating something new – 11:07-13:00
  • Program Case Study – 14:47-17:43
  • Internal Agency Relationships – 25:38-27:12
  • Database of You – 32:32-33:25
  • Content – 36:24-38:22
  • Future State – 41:14-42:16
  • Leveraging Data – 49:02-49:41

Here is the formal description of the panel.

Advertising on the relatively small smartphone screen has hardly been a hit to date. Once initiated by a beacon signal, what creative will work best? What is the role of post-beaconing, such as sending ad messaging well after leaving a store? What about using past beaconing knowledge to drive foot traffic back to a store? What are consumer expectations from in-store engagements? What future creative options might be used to catch the shopper’s eye? Three creative minds discuss the best beacon-triggered creative approaches for in-store mobile marketing and mobile advertising.

The panel consisted of:

Ian Beacraft (Moderator), Manager, New and Emerging Technologies, Leo Burnett @ianbcraft

Ben Murphy, Director of Technology, FCB Chicago

Scott Varland, Creative Director, IPG Media Lab @scottiev

Tom Edwards, EVP Digital Strategy & Innovation, The Marketing Arm

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Super Bowl XLIX Advertising Missed Opportunities

With the price of the average Super Bowl ad hovering around $4.5 million for a 30 second spot, you would assume that advertisers would extend the reach of the on-air spot and create comprehensive social and mobile experiences to capitalize on the spend.

For this years game that simply did not happen. SalesForce published a great ad analysis diagram outlining some of the hits and misses.

salesforce superbowl data

The big surprise was the amount of spots that simply did not have a single call to action. Awareness is one thing, but leading up to the big game it is incredibly important to maximize the reach and frequency of the spot and kick it over into an earned media strategy that extends the conversation and builds towards greater engagement with the brand.

Even the usage of hashtags was primarily relegated to end cards vs. being present throughout the spots. Having a hashtag is a good start, but it is also important to ensure that the experience both from a keyword and promoted tweet perspective further aligns the call to action with an opportunity to drive deeper engagement or action to a final destination.

The other surprising take away was the non-use of SMS during the course of the spots as well as the limited numbers of drive to native applications. Mobile marketing was almost non-existent and a huge missed opportunity to further drive customer acquisition of a highly engaged audience.

Heading into next years game brand advertisers need to focus on creating a cohesive experience that maximizes their investment to not only create awareness but diving deeper into creating experiences that extend beyond the spot that further fuels the social conversation.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Apple’s Big Day & Samsungs Shrewd Move

Yesterday, all eyes & multiple hashtags were set on Cupertino, California for Apple’s seismic announcements. I will admit that I am an Apple apologist and almost all of my hardware has the iconic fruit emblazoned on it. So it was with great anticipation that I watched the keynote unfold yesterday.

AppleInvite

I was excited about the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, shared high-fives over the new Apple Pay & Apple Watch and left the keynote feeling good about the direction of the new products.

Apple

During all of the excitement and monitoring of the social conversation around #appleevent, #appleliveevent and other Apple centric hashtags I spotted something that seemed amiss.

Samsung - Promoted Trend

Note in the Promoted Trend highlighted above, among the various Apple organic trending topics is #GalaxyFamily. For those of you not familiar with executing a promoted trend, this is a calculated, date driven buy with Twitter that requires advanced planning and a decent sized media buy. The fact that the Samsung marketing team was able to secure the date, assuming this was executed after Apple announced the Keynote is impressive.

Here is a full view of Samsung looking to disrupt the action on the #appleevent hashtag yesterday via promoted tweets tied to Twitter search. This was an example of incredibly shrewd marketing on behalf of the Samsung team and an interesting approach to combating the enormous wave of organic conversation being created by the Apple event.

Samsung Promoted Trend

 

Follow Tom Edwards on Twitter @BlackFin360

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SXSW 2015 – What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020

Now through September 5th, 2014 is the time to vote on panels & presentations for SXSW Interactive 2015. I have submitted a presentation for consideration and would greatly appreciate your support.

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My proposed topic is What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020. This is an in-depth extension of my previously published iMedia article of the same name. Here is a brief outline of the proposed presentation. I will also roll out the new consumer engagement platform called #DatabaseOfYou during this presentation.

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Presentation Description

Where should marketers and brands place bets over the next five years? What is hype over substance? Taking all of this into consideration, I interviewed my strategy teams in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas to map the state of digital marketing in the year 2020. We had fun with discussions of drones, crypto currency, the internet of people, and more. While the team agreed fundamentally about certain platforms making an impact, there were pros and cons to impact and feasibility. The following panel is the consolidated and highly visual vision of the future of advertisting in the year 2020. This presentation will take a look back at transformational media moments that give clues to the future state of advertising. We will then look at the role of integrated mobile, converged media, connected life and the digital ecosystem of the future. Presentation Cameos by Drones, Terminators, the Jetson’s, Marty McFly, Grumpy Cat and more!!!

Questions to be Answered

The presentation will focus on the three predicted core pillars of advertising in 2020 (Content, Data, Channels). The pillars will fuel the discussion and points of connection between where technology is going and how to stay relevant with a information overloaded consumer.

1) How can media of the past predict the future state of advertising?

2) What role will mobile + wearables play in 2020?

3) How can media fragmentation and personalization unlock new opportunities for converged media?

4) What role will the internet of things and connected life play in predictive advertising?

5) Who will be left standing as major players digital ecosystem players in the year 2020?

Here is a preview of some of the initial visuals tied to the presentation.

 

I would greatly appreciate your support with a vote. You can vote here. In order to vote you must create an account at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com

Then you can simply search for Tom Edwards and give it a thumbs up to submit your vote.

SXSW - Tom

Thank you in advance for your support! It is much appreciated.

Follow Tom Edwards @Blackfin360

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National Sports Marketing Network

I will soon be speaking at the National Sports Marketing Network event in Dallas on June 25, 2013. The topic will be leveraging social media as an integral part of your branding strategy: Why marketers no longer have a choice to embrace social media. Hope to see you there!

National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN) - North Texas Chapter

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Sports Social TV Summit

I had a great time speaking on a panel this morning at the Sports Social TV Summit. I was a part of a panel discussion with members from the NFL, Turner Sports, Time Warner Cable, the Pac 12 and the Los Angeles Dodgers discussing various topics associated with Social TV.

Tom Speaking 1

Below are three clips tied to various questions that I was asked as well as an overview of our recently executed Way2Saturday program.

Way2Saturday & Social TV

Brand Question… Are brands asking for Social TV & second screen solutions?

The final response was from the Q&A session tied to Facebook Targeting

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Sports Social TV Summit

I will be speaking at the Sports Social TV Summit on May 29, 2013 at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, CA.

Bel-Air-Country-Club

I will be a part of the 9:15 am- 10:15 am time slot discussing the power of live sports programming and how Social TV is engaging viewers and driving new revenues at home and in arenas & stadiums. Here is the full list of speakers.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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iPhone 5 Launch Coverage

For those of us who follow all things Apple, today’s event in San Francisco is the focus of the day. With the upcoming release of the iPhone5, millions of iPhone users will be upgrading to the new device.

Apple just announced that the iPhone5 will be available for pre-order on 9-14 and will ship/be available on 9-21.

Here is a quick rundown of what’s available with the upcoming release:

  • The form factor is thinner (18%) and lighter (20%) with a panoramic screen with higher resolution
  • Aluminum body with a glass screen, supposedly the thinnest smartphone on the market and once again will be available in Black & White
  • Speed increases immensely based on the new A6 processor, which Apple claims is 2x faster than the 4S
  • iPhone5 will support LTE connectivity, which will add speed increases to the 4S
  • iPhone5 will have a dual channel 5GHz Wi-Fi
  • The screen is 16:9 with a 4 inch panoramic screen with it’s touchscreen sensor built into the display
  • Increased battery life – 8 hours 3G, 8 hours LTE browsing
  • Camera updates – 5 element lens, 8 megapixel with panorama mode
  • Video face detection – improved image stabilization with the ability to tag people automatically in videos
  • 3 Microphones – Front, Back & Bottom which should improve voice calls
  • One of the more controversial elements is the new Lightning connector, which replaces the current 30 pin connector that we all have across generations and are moving towards an 8 pin connector
  • iOS 6 launches on the 19th of September

Will you be upgrading to the iPhone5?

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Robblehead Invasion

intelligentlogoToday marks the first day of the In.Telligent conference. This is the 2nd conference put on by Telligent and this year we have had a significant turnout for both the business and development tracks.

Rob Howard opened the day with a rousing Keynote that reiterated the direction of Telligent. Mark McKinney of IMC2 provided a great case study into the Alli experience and Scott Dockendorf covered a number of client examples. When Rob provided his closing comments it was time to announce the pending invasion….

Rob was aware something was coming but when he wrapped I had the opportunity to announce to all of the conference attendees that they would receive their own Robblehead. Not only would they be receiving one but they would have the golden opportunity to have theirs autographed by Mr. Rob Howard himself.

Rob, keep your sharpie ready!

 

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????

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

7 Periods

I was lucky enough to be at Game 6 of the Stars and Sharks Sunday night. The plans just happened to come together on that day and I am really glad that they did.

Rob Howard, Scott Dockendorf, Deryl Dorsett and I were excited to catch some playoff hockey. None of us expected what turned out to be the equivalent of a double header.

The Stars came out aggressively in the first and you could tell that they wanted to close out the series and turn tonight into hand shake night. The Stars were the first to score and the building erupted. Towels were waving, people were screaming and it seemed as if the roof was going to blow off of the AA center.

After the score it seems as if the team went into a mode of protecting the lead vs. being the aggressor. The Sharks started to inch ahead in the shot column (over 100 shots total in one game) and finally one went past Turco to tie the game. Luckily that would be the last shot to get by Marty on the night.

The third…fourth…fifth… and sixth periods turned into a stalemate with both sides playing tenacious D and neither side willing to relent to the other until the Stars finally ended the drought with a Brenden Morrow goal in the middle of the 7th period.

The game in and of itself was amazing. Outside of the game action we had fun between periods from an unlikely source. You could send a text message to the Stars and they would display the messages (good or bad) across the jumbotron. This was one of the best parts of the night as a lot of people had fun with the Sharks among other things…. Comments about eating, grilling, spearing, etc… I even got a message about Scott D on the jumbotron…. Scott D eats Sharks for Breakfast scrolled by with a chuckle from our group. I should have sent in Our CEO can beat up your CEO as Rob had gotten booted from a hockey game earlier in the day for let’s just say defending himself from a high sticking…. :)

Needless to say it was a great game and I think I am still tired from watching 7 periods of hockey but we all got to see what we were waiting for… Hand Shake night. On to the conference finals!!!

Stars

Bring on the Red Wings!!!! Go Stars!!!

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!

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

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.

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!

GDC 2008

GDC2008I confirmed today that I will be attending the 2008 Game Developer Conference February 18-22 in San Francisco.

I am very excited about attending as outside of the networking and expo portion the key areas that I am interested in are the business and management topics of “Make the Community Part of Halo” and advertising and games.

The “Make the Community Part of Halo” discussions are very key as it talks about the bungie.net experience and how they worked to make community an integral part of the game itself.

I have worked with Microsoft Game Studios, Ensemble Studios and of course Electronic Arts on the Skate and NFS ProStreet titles fall along the same lines. So if you are attending the event let me know and we will schedule some time to sync during the conference.

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

CES 2008

2008 CESJust a quick note that I will be attending CES 2008 in Las Vegas. I will be at the event through Tuesday of next week.

Being the gadget guy that I am it will be a lot of fun to get a glimpse at the latest emerging technologies across a number of categories.

If you are going to be in attendance definitely let me know. Otherwise I will follow up with a review of the sights and sounds of this years consumer electronics show.

 

CSDC Live Blogging

This weekend was the first annual Community Server Developer Conference. With around 100 attendees from all over the world discussing development on the Community Server platform as well as sneak previews of upcoming Telligent products it comes as no surprise that there are live updates from the event. 

Kevin Harder was keeping everyone not attending in person up-to-date via his blog. Here are the posts from Saturday morning session and afternoon and here is the post covering Sunday’s sessions. There was a lot of really good information around Community Server including dynamic skinning and theming, and many sessions highlighting items from the upcoming Community Server 2008 release including groups, widgets and the newly created CS web services stack. Other sessions highlighted our upcoming CMS Graffiti, and one of the items I am very excited about, Enterprise Reporting.

The sessions were recorded and will be available very soon.

csdc

Microsoft Dallas Halo 3 Pre Launch

Last night I was one of the lucky few to attend the Microsoft Dallas Halo 3 Pre-launch event. This was an invite only gathering to preview and play Halo 3 before the launch and to just have a good time fragging people left and right. The event started with the obligatory swag bag with Halo T-shirt and led to the waiting area prior to entering the gaming lounge.

Once inside the smoke machines were going, the Halo soundtrack was blaring and rows of chairs facing large screens with team slayer mode running for multiple 8 player per sessions. Tournaments, multi-player, and campaign were all options that you could participate in. There were also many door prizes from Microsoft Vista and Office Ultimate to Halo branded goodies. It was great to have early access to the Microsoft team as well as playing one of the most anticipated titles prior to its release.

The graphics were amazing, the new weapons were fun, the controls were sensitive and the ability to customize your Spartans was one of the features that I definitely enjoyed. One of the highlights of the night was going old school in the warthog as the gunner and fragging people left and right. The “beat down” melee attack is still one of my favorite ways to take down an opponent.

I was not one of the few waiting at midnight for the title. I had a good fill during the event to hold me over to the next day, but this morning I did pick up my reserved Legendary Edition of Halo 3 and look forward to once again taking the controls of Master Chief.

halo event - small

Me at the Microsoft Dallas – Halo 3 Pre Launch Event

Legendary-small

Legendary Edition Halo 3 Helmet on my office shelf

$44 Billion Really?

I just flew in from Denver and boy are my arms tired… Seriously though, I enjoyed attending the 2007 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference last week. I was even quoted in the Denver Post about being a Microsoft partner. It is always interesting to get an inside look at Microsoft as I have been consulting with this organization for the past 8 years. It has been intriging to watch the transformation from a decentralized, maverick organization to one that is applying more traditional business controls such as a focus around procurement, to their ability to quickly adapt in an ever-changing marketplace.

What really impressed me is the partner ecosystem that Microsoft has been able to develop. With 10,000+ attendees at this conference representing 120 countries it is no wonder that 96% of it’s $44 billion in revenue 2006 came from Partners. With their ability to not only provide outstanding software products, Microsoft really focuses on establishing platforms that can be extended, defining industry standards and ensuring interoperability with their offerings. This makes it very easy for organizations to partner with them.

It was very evident that many start-up organizations can benefit from niche offerings around Microsoft products as they are very open to partnering with early adopters. The focus on partners is a key element to their continued success. As I stated before in Software + Services there will always be the customer segment that lives in the now and is focused on the best solution that meets their needs today vs. the trendy offering of tomorrow.

Here at Telligent we have deep roots with Microsoft from Rob Howards time with the ASP.NET team, to 2 Regional Directors, multiple MVP’s and a focus on Microsoft technologies in our products such as Community Server. We look forward to continuing to build out our own partner ecosystem. We focus on providing software platforms that can be extended vs. single applications as well. So why wouldn’t we follow in the footsteps of Microsoft. $44 billion can’t be wrong.