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.

Hockey Anyone?

NHL2K9This is in some ways the best time of the year. Football is back (Go Sooners!!!), fall is in the air, the latest iteration of the NHL 2K hockey franchise (NHL2K9) is now available.

We have been playing the NHL 2K hockey franchise since 2006. We have gone through 2006, 2007 and 2008. For the record the team of Rob Howard and myself hold the lifetime edge on the team of Dockendorf & Cunningham.

So the initial foray into NHL 2K9 began today. And it began as the 2K8 season ended… With Team Howard/Edwards soundly defeating team Dockendorf/Cunningham.

Oh and by the way…. game one a 5-0 shutout. Welcome to 2K9 gentlemen.

 

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.

Community Server 2008

On April 15th Telligent released Community Server 2008. Community Server is the platform that powers communities for the likes of Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Dell and the MySpace.com forums and is the platform of choice for thousands of community implementations.

In addition to the new release a new site now accompanies the release. The base URL has shifted from communityserver.org now to communityserver.com.

Community Server 2008 features some significant additions to an already robust platform.

Some of the new features include:

  • Groups/Social circles (Think micro-communities)
  • Enterprise Reporting & Analytics with the new Harvest Reporting Server
  • SharePoint integration (This is big!!!)
  • A full Web Services stack
  • Social Streams (Activity Feeds)
  • Media Galleries that can easily share content published within the community or external sources
  • Enterprise File Storage
  • Widgets, widgets and more widgets
  • OpenID support
  • As well as enhancements to the blogs and forums applications as well as a revamp of the control panel

Community Server 2008 is the best integrated social networking/community platform available. Not only from a feature and technology standpoint, but also based on Telligent’s investment in reporting and analytics.

As I have mentioned before one of the biggest barriers to implementing a social networking solution is the lack of consistent metrics. With Harvest Reporting Server we have taken a major step in providing a model to assist in the calculation of ROI around community.

Definitely give it a go. You can download the free express edition here.

Community Server 2008 Logo Unveiled

One of the fun parts of my job is that I work closely with our Creative and
Marketing teams in defining the direction of the various brands for our
products. After a number of cycles the team has unveiled the new Community
Server
2008 logo.

Community Server 2008

I am very excited about the progression of the brand over the past few years. I
feel like this iteration is a good representation of what Community Server is
all about.

Great work guys!

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!

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 :)

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!!!!

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

Shutout

nhl_2k8This post is short and sweet. For the past few years Rob, myself, Scott Dockendorf, and Kevin Cunningham have played the various Xbox 360 NHL 2Kx titles. (6, 7 and now 8). During this time Rob and I have teamed up against the duo of Kevin and Scott “The Butcher” Dockendorf.

The series have gone back and forth with one team gaining a lead in the overall standings only to have the series even again. But never during the hundreds of games that we have played together has there ever been a shutout… Until today.

Final score Rob/Tom (Calgary) 8… Scott/Kevin (Calgary) 0

This post is not to boast, but to capture the event in all of it’s shocking glory as we chronicle the never ending series of games and to serve as a humble reminder of the fact that yes Scott and Kevin… You were shutout on this day :)

MySpace & Community Server

Over the past year we have been working with the MySpace.com team to position Community Server as the engine to the MySpace.com forums. Recently the MySpace.com team launched the Community Server powered forums.

From a scalability perspective this posed some unique usage scenarios as MySpace features 70 MILLION users. So when potential clients ask about scalability of the platform we can point to MySpace.com as the example.

The MySpace.com solution went through heavy optimization and is deployed across MySpace.com’s vast server farm to support that level of load. For our more traditional high load sites the CS product team is working to fork the Community Server codebase to introduce new best practices associated with high load communities that will add a lot of value moving forward. Look for this release to coincide with the Community Server 2008 release. 

In the following video our resident film maker Adonis Bitar has published the latest Tellicast discussing our recent partnership with GoDaddy’s “Metropolis” initiative and I talk about how MySpace.com is leveraging Community Server as well as some tips on which Community Server license makes the most sense based on your community size.

MySpace

Game Review – Halo 3

Halo3finallogoIf there was any doubt as to what the game of the week is for me this week it is Halo 3.

Last night Rob Howard, Deryl Dorsett, Elijah Hardin and I all joined forces to blast our way through 2/3 of the campaign mode. The best part of it was that we did it with the phenominal 4 player campaign co-op option.

This is an unprecedented feat for a console based game as Gears of War and Crackdown before it offered some of the best co-op play that I have seen on a console. The 4 player Halo 3 co-op surpasses them both. With a seamless approach and the ability to easily invite your friends all 4 of you can blast the covenant and flood while easily maintaining where your teammates are. The best part for me was the ability to get very aggressive with my play style knowing that someone will survive while a few of us charge in and take out as many enemies as we can.

The Bungie team really did a great job with the game. From the graphics, weapons, and vehicles to the matchmaking system for the online multiplayer matches…the game definitely lived up to they hype. But to me the best feature of the game is the ability to seamlessly play with 3 of your friends through the campaign mode while occasionally causing an incident of “friendly fire“…. sorry Rob it was an accident… really :)

Other games I am playing this week. Skate, NHL 2K8 and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam with my 5 yr. old son.

How Do I???

While traveling to London meeting with some of our European clients some common questions arose that we get quite often. How do I measure what is going on with my community? How can I calculate the health of my community? How do I identify key influencers in my community? How will this data help me develop a profile about my users? How do I back up my request for additional budget when it comes to social networking solutions vs. traditional marketing avenues? These are all great questions and ones we at Telligent are happy to answer.

I have talked in the past about calculating B2C return on investment. Prior to calculating return on investment, a common understanding of measurable business objectives needs to take place. This can come in the form of basing your analysis on such things as incremental value of the community, to trending the current userbase over time. The key to this is that the variables selected are measurable.

Once you have defined the measurable business objectives it is now time to analyze the data. With this in mind we have focused on developing a new framework to report on the data within Community Server implementations in the form of an Enterprise Reporting Suite. The new Enterprise Reporting Suite will ship with over 60 different reports and charts to help you understand exactly what is happening in your community. The reports will quickly show you such vital user information such as users by day, roles, points, posts, registrations, activity, country. The remaining reports are directly tied to which applications are currently enabled. This will allow you to quickly build a user profile and discover what information is truly valuable to your community.

The data in and of itself is invaluable, now you have the means to manipulate the data based on your measurable business objectives as well as easily writing new reports specific to your needs. Once you have the data in hand then it is a matter of defining which ROI scenario makes the most sense for your given situation, B2B, B2C, or E2E (Employee to Employee) or leveraging a metric such as the conversation index (Total Posts/Comments + Trackbacks + Ratings) to calculate impact of blog posts. I will be posting more about the ROI scenario’s in future posts but note if you need immediate assistance in defining ROI around your current community initiative please do not hesitate to e-mail me.

A comprehensive demo of the Enterprise Reporting Suite is available athttp://reports.communityserver.org/demo/. The reporting package will begin it’s beta testing in early October and will be a must have for any marketing or community manager running aprofessional or enterprise instance of Community Server.

The Halo 3 Marketing Machine

While flying to New York today I was reading an industry magazine and came across a Halo 3 cross-promotional ad that caught my attention. Outside of this ad featuring Halo 3 & 7-11, the teams at Bungie and Microsoft are collaborating with a number of brands and agencies, including the same team that brought you 7-11’s transformed into Kwik-E-Marts, to kick off a Halo 3 go-to-market campaign that will be assaulting mainstream audiences faster than Master Chief can blast a covenant elite with a dual-wielded mauler.

It looks as though Halo 3 inspired Mountain Dew will be flying into 7-11 sometime in August. This promotion will also see Halo 3 Slurpee cups and Master Chief emblazoned bags of Doritos. The Doritos campaign will be tied to a voice cameo contest for the upcoming Ensemble Studios Halo Wars title. I have been very impressed with 7-11’s strategy over the past year. You would not think that a convenience store would have this type of marketing prowess but the proof is in the tie-in’s… Spider Man, the Simpsons, and Halo. And this only accounts for campaigns launched in 2007.

Regarding Halo’s GTM strategy, other brands will also leverage Master Chief to help cross-promote their offerings. Pontiac, Burger King and even a Halo 3 sponsorship for an upcoming music tour featuring acts like Linkin Park are just a few of the publicly available elements of the upcoming campaign. All of this does not include the Microsoft centric items such as Halo 3 branded Xbox 360’s, controllers and Zunes.

What this tells me is that the point is no longer to just make a game that entertains. The main goal now is to develop something that can transcend a niche genre and break through to the mainstream. It happened with Pac Man in the 80’s, it has happened with the Electronic Arts Madden franchise which is the best selling franchise of all time and now Halo is primed to cross into the mainstream by following the road taken by many a Hollywood blockbuster… meaning directly into kids meals at Burger King and on the bag of chips you eat in your living room… while playing Halo 3. Who says marketing doesn’t work?

MasterChief

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.

20,000 Points

It is finally official. I have reached the 20,000K gamerscore mark!!! I have expressed in the past that I am an avid gamer and I enjoy the work that we do with various gaming studios such as Electronic Arts.

One thing about me is that I am very competitive and focused on results. I like to set goals and subsequently achieve them. This coincides very well with the Xbox 360 achievement system as you get a very measurable ROI metric out of your gaming experience.

Gaming is a lot like marketing in that you select a specific vertical that you want to target. For example, I like to focus on sports and retro titles. Then I formulate a plan based on the market segment that I have selected. I review the achievements that are available with each game prior to playing to predetermine ratios around potential time spent on pursuit of the goal vs. actualization of the achievement and then move towards the execution phase of the plan. Once the plan is put into motion it is very easy to then determine success of the strategy. And it is just a lot of fun to have the achievement pop-up on my screen once I have earned the achievement.

So is a 20K gamerscore required to be a good marketer? Not at all… All it shows is that you spend a lot of time looking at a screen. Speaking of which I have to thank my wife and children for allowing me the “small” amounts of time that I spend on…. market research. I also would like to thank the guys at EA for giving me the hookup on the best EA titles.

Thanks again! On to 30K!!!

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

$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.

Software + Services

There has been a lot of hype around Software as a Service of late. A number of people in the know say this is the future of business. If we have learned anything over the past few years it is customers want a choice.

You will always have the innovators and early adopters setting the pace for technology adoption. But when you hit the early majority you will have to understand that the latest and greatest is not always what is needed or wanted. Therefore as a solution provider in order to gain a true competitive advantage you need to have a blended offering.

From a software perspective that means in order to maximize your potential you need to offer products that meet the needs of both sides of the spectrum. From an on-premise implementation that allows enterprise level players to have the ultimate control and integration that they desire to the mid-size organization that does not want the responsibility of maintaining the infrastructure associated with the offering.

We at Telligent are very aware of this and one of our biggest advantages is our ability to tailor our solutions to adhere to both scenarios. We are as hand’s on as our clients need us to be. We can provide a fully managed solution including customization of the Community Server platform, professional services and creative, or we can offer just licensing, software assurance and support. This has enabled us to be on the forefront of online collaborative solutions and work with some of the biggest names and brands across multiple verticals.

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.

Paintball Anyone?

Team Building. That is what it’s called when a company has a sponsored outing. In order to partake in team building on this day you had to drive to the middle of nowhere, don camouflage from days gone by (ex-military) and pick up high-powered weapons that shoot plastic balls filled with paint at high rates of speed. Then divide the company into two sides, line up on the ends of the playing fields and wait for all hell to break loose.

That is exactly what transpired on Friday with Telligent’s soon to be inaugural paintball adventure. Imagine if you will a group of mild mannered developers, program managers and sales team members. All friends during the day, collaborating on multiple project initiatives, driving towards company goals… but when the masks drop down and the last of the air cartridges are full, they turn into lethal paintballing machines.

The battles had an ebb and flow to them. One side would gain control and then the other would push forward. Towards the end of the day the term “surrender” had no meaning. Many casualties were met on this day as some team members bravely charged into bunkers where automatic weapons lay in wait. There will be posthumous medal ceremonies for those brave souls. There was the occasional friendly-fire incident and many shrieks of pain as the impact and subsequent explosion of paint could be heard by anyone within ear shot.  

When it was all said and done: 20 boxes of paint, 1 neck shot, hundreds of whelps and countless chigger bites later the goal of the day had been accomplished. There were many that wore weary smiles as they painfully made their way to their cars. The next day the IM titles read like a list of honor… 15 whelps here, 12 whelps there, paintball recovery day 1, etc…

Battle brings the best and worst out of people. I hope on this day each individual caught a glimpse of themselves and were happy with what they saw.

On this day there was much team building indeed.   

tom-paintball

Tom-Sniper

The Next Gaming Platform & A Look Back

As most of you know by now I am an avid console gamer. I was hooked at an early age. First it was the Odyssey² in 1978. I loved that the Odyssey² cartridges looked like 8-tracks with handles… Then it was on to the Nintendo 8-bit explosion of the mid-80’s.

I was amazed by the graphics and as soon as I saw R.O.B. the Robot playing Gyromite I had to have it! Who says marketing doesn’t work. I remember many hours spent on Excitebike, Zelda and Metroid. You had to ensure you had a good supply of Q-tips and rubbing alcohol to make sure you could still fire up your favorite games. And how did we ever live with just two buttons to mash is beyond me.

Next for me came the 16-bit Sega Genesis, with its slick black design and innovative controller layout (3 buttons vs. 2!!!) and titles like Phantasy Star 2  I had to have it.  Plus my console came with a fun game that had a blue hedgehog that was lightning fast. On a side note, it amazes me that the same games I enjoyed are now available for my kids to play. My 5 year old son now loves all things Sonic the Hedgehog. He has the Sonic Mega Collection for his PS2 that allows him to play the original port of Sonic. And don’t forget all the retro arcade titles on Xbox Live Arcade…Like father, like son.

I had a bit of a gap between the genesis and my next console. I bypassed a lot of the other options of the day, don’t get me wrong, I still played them with friends, The Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 (Goldeneye is still a classic), Sega Saturn etc… It was not until the Sony Playstation came out that I got back into consoling gaming head first again.

Sony redefined mainstream gaming with its CD only media and a truly amazing controller. The basic design of the controller was so solid it is still in use through 3 versions of the product. The graphics were amazing and I remember friends demolishing their PS1’s as they tried to mod them. The library of games was also really impressive. I think that is one of the ways they gained market share as quickly as they did, that and it was a 32 bit console. (First console to reach the 100 million mark) and all of these factors turned me into a Sony fanboy. To this day the best games I have ever played are the 3 CD behemoth Final Fantasy VII & Xenogears on PS1. I absolutely love those games.

Of course I picked up a PS2, this sixth generation 128-bit console was impressive, I remember seeing the first videos of Madden and the realism of the players just blew me away. This is also when I became 100% addicted to the EA NCAA football franchise. I played it in 1999 and a few versions on the PS1, but nothing compared to taking over the University of Oklahoma and leading them to national championship domination year, after year, after year in dynasty mode. I have probably logged over 500+ games of NCAA football across platforms.

By this time I wanted to take my gaming with me, I was traveling a lot and decided to pick up a Gameboy Advanced SP (The PSP was still on the horizon but not yet available. I played everything from Dragonball Z and Megaman to SpyHunter but it was short lived. The PSP was finally released.

All I have to say about the PSP at the time was WOW. The size of the screen, the ability to hold my photos and music all in the same device was just too cool. I remember when it first came out hacking the browser in Wipeout and thought it was the greatest thing that I was online with my PSP.  Alas, my PSP was stolen in Seattle and my desire to continue with the PSP went with it.

Which brings me to the here and now. Me being the Sony fanboy that I was means that I did not own an original Xbox. I was a member of the Sony Gamer Advisory Panel, I beta tested upcoming Sony titles and I could not wait for the PS3. With a brilliant move by Microsoft, instead of trying to cram everything into their console, they went to market first with a next-gen console that was just what the market could handle. I held out for a long time as many of my friends picked up the Xbox 360. I would passively sit back and just wait for the PS3 thinking it would be worth it.

At the Telligent office we began playing NHL2K6 on the Xbox 360 and things started to get really competitive. I wanted to get a leg up so I jumped head first into the realm of 360 gaming with very low expectations, I mainly bought the console to play the game and this was filler until the PS3 shipped. My gamerscore was zero, I casually played Halo and other Xbox titles with friends on their consoles so I was a true Noob when it came to the Xbox.

Fast-forward 14,000+ gamer points later and 50+ games played and I still do not own a PS3, nor do I see myself going that direction anytime soon. The biggest selling point to me besides achievement points was the way you can easily collaborate with your friends over Xbox Live. Granted it is not perfect, but I really like being able to see what games my friends are playing and the game specific leaderboards, how far they have progressed, or if I want to challenge someone or just co-op on the latest game it is easy to do.

I look forward to the eighth-generation consoles like the Xbox 720, Playstation 4 and Wii2 or whatever the future may bring. With amazing strides being made with the game engines (Look at the upcoming Mass Effect and Unreal Tournament 3 titles) and consoles like the Wii changing the way people interact with games, it is going to be a fun ride.

 

 

San Francisco & EA’s Skate

For most of this week I will be in San Francisco, beautiful city btw. Today I am on-site at Electronic Arts in Redwood City. It is always good to see the EA team, the core group that we work with are a great bunch of guys. We are working on a community project tied to the upcoming Skate game that is very impressive. The marketing site done by Blast Radius is already up and running.

I played an alpha build of the game today and was very impressed. Not only is it a fun game, but it takes skateboarding to the edge in terms of the realism of the game compared to other titles that are out today (Tony Hawk series). The “Flickit” controls were very responsive (Think Fight Night 3’s analog controls), I was able to pull a number of tricks but the level of difficulty is there giving it a feeling of real skating and not an arcade simulation. It is not simply hit a button perform a trick. There is a flow to the moves and a seamless transition between tricks if done well. The graphics were impressive and it has a real sandbox feel in terms of roaming the different cityscapes in freeskate.

One of the great features of the upcoming Skate game will be the ability to record in-game footage and upload it to the upcoming community server based site. It will allow a level of Web/Game integration that we have yet to see in a next-gen title.

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What Do You Look For?

One of the most difficult tasks to undertake is adding a new member to a team. There are so many factors that you have to consider, the balance of personality types… strategic thinker vs. execution mindset… you have to factor in the dynamics of the existing team members and you want to ensure that the prospect has a clear understanding of the expectations of the position.

When I look to hire a new member to the team the main area I focus on is not necessarily their extensive skill set or the impressive list of previous positions on their resume. I look for both tangible and intangible traits. Does this individual possess the type of personality that can thrive in this environment. From my experience individuals can really thrive in an open/start-up type environment, others it can be a very uncomfortable place to be if they are not accustomed to fluid processes.

The other personality trait I focus on is ego. When hiring, especially in a sales type capacity you want someone who is confident in their abilities but at the same time recognize a sense of humility. This is very key as with this type of position the ability to develop and maintain relationships is such a key element.

To succeed within this culture attitudes and egos need to be checked at the door. I also look for signs from the individual that they have the ability to add value in multiple areas, be it experience in an area of interest or the desire to continue to develop professionally. Finally, is the individual an enabler. Can they bring the best not only from themselves but positively impacting the other members of the organization.

To summarize, it is not always about the resume and what you have done that get you in the door, it is more along the lines of highlighting the value that you can bring to the team and having just the right mix of personality that can take you all the way.

Fun on a Friday

Today was one of those rare days. It is Telligent’s 3rd Anniversary and it was a day when you have an opportunity to do something that is just plain funny! After a month of planning, today was the “unveiling” of Rob’s clone/Evil Rob/Rob2… In other words a life size cutout of Rob Howard, CEO of Telligent Systems.  When the group had gathered and Rob entered the room his reaction was the payoff that we were waiting for. For those of you that don’t know me, I am a bit of a prankster. I like to conduct “social experiments” to see how people respond. With today’s experiment we are testing Rob’s tolerance to literally laugh at himself.

The planning started a month ago. Rob had recently completed a photo shoot for a cross promotional ad with ComponentArt and our Community Server product. So a high-resolution image was floating around just waiting to be a part of a fun prank. When I initially, innocently inquired about said photo I was met with resistance, so an alternate path had to be taken. Once the photo was in hand it was time to find the perfect printer, and that came in the form of Advanced Graphics. AG specializes in life size cut outs and I highly recommend them. Then the waiting game for the item to arrive. So today the package arrived. We quickly unpacked and reviewed the item. The next thing you know an e-mail is sent out to meet in the ping pong conference room and the team showed up quickly. A camera was ready to capture the reaction and Rob did not disappoint. Once plenty of pictures were taken the “Rob Clone” found a home in the front lobby.

Why is a life size cutout of Rob so funny? Because if you know him you have to know that the last thing in the world that he would do would be to promote himself in that way. It so goes against his personality. So if you happen to catch him at TechEd next week, be sure to ask him how his “clone” is doing and which one is the good Rob and which is the evil one.

Rob and Evil Rob

The Three-Screen Universe

While flying to NYC today I read an interesting article talking about “the three-screen universe” (TV, PC, and cell phone/gaming gizmo/iPod). The basic premise was that we have so much information available to us that it is potentially causing a social breakdown by contributing to ADHD type behavior and actually isolating us from interacting with one another. The more I thought about this I began to apply the meaning of the article to myself. How many times a day do I check my smart phone? 10, 20, 30 times a day??? Knowing me it is probably more like 50-100 times a day. Then I think about all the time I spend gaming (granted the kiddos are asleep) but that time could be spent interacting (No co-oping with your buddy does not count) or sleeping and of course the weekly TV (LOST) and during football season the weekly Oklahoma Sooner game. Then I started thinking about potential disruptive behavior in meetings, laptop open and working during meetings, checking the smart phone 15 times during the meeting, etc… you know you do it or have done it at one point in time. The whole point is to just say every once in a while before you go to pick up that controller or smart phone/ipod/blackberry think about doing a little something for society and interact (positively) with your environment and don’t feed the e-mail monster. It will still be hungry in the morning.  

Go Vikings?

It is official… Adrian Peterson is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson was built for the NFL and should do very well, especially with the Minnesota O-line. I will be taking my son to the Minnesota vs. Cowboys game in October.

Draft time is one of my favorite times of year, I liken it to Christmas… I love the overcoverage of the event and the ebb and flow of the picks, especially when something happens that is unexpected… like a certain Notre Dame quarterback falling to the 22nd pick.

Speaking of the draft it was great to see the Madden08 commercials. It is a great feeling to know that you had a part in contributing to something that you are passionate about. Community Server powers the blogs of the Madden08 site as well as the forums for the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, and the NY Giants

I can’t wait for football to start!!!

10,000 points and the NFL draft

It took 7 months but I finally broke through the 10,000 point barrier (Xbox 360 achievement points). Let the celebration begin, okay on to 20,000! In another update to the never ending hockey series, Rob and I once again dropped 2 to the Scott Dockendorf and Kevin Cunningham combo (yesterday). Back to the drawing board.

I am really looking forward to the NFL draft tomorrow! For those of you that don’t know I am a big OU Sooner fan. I can’t wait to see where Adrian Peterson ends up, I just hope that the Bills don’t trade up (Eric Smith’s team). As that would mean I would have to root for Eric’s team and that just can’t happen.

Also, Telligent will play a part in the NFL draft tomorrow. When EA announces the cover athlete to Madden08, the blog portion of the Madden08 site will be powered by Community Server via an iframe!!! Great stuff!!!

 

Game On!

One of the great things about Telligent is that we work hard, but we also play hard. At any given time you will either see a heated game of ping pong, scooter races, WoW card games, (I call it adult pokemon others call it geek poker) numerous circular objects making there way towards someone’s head, nerf guns of various shapes and sizes or the all out competition of direct gaming, I am talking head to head, no holds barred Xbox 360 and PC gaming at it’s best. The game of choice for us Xbox guys is NHL 2K7, why? it is fast paced, takes about 15 mins for a game, and you can absolutely school your buddy when they go for the big hit. Scott D, you know who I am talking about :). At any given point in time you can catch me and Rob Howard taking on Scott Dockendorf and Kevin Cunningham in what seems to be a never ending series of games. There have been swings from one side to the other, but I do think that Rob and I hold the all time series lead in this one :). We will have to find out who has the hot hand tomorrow.

Outside of the office there are about 20 or so Telligenti, yes that is what we call ourselves, who are Xbox 360 gamers. We like to co-op or just try to see who can build up the most achievement points between us, FWIW, I am leading the way with 9000+ points. 

We also have what is affectionately known as frag night the first Tuesday of every month, it is our time to order pizza, and get our gaming on. We do need to look into getting an air hockey table or one of the old school hockey games with the guys that spin around. That would be a great addition! 

Why Telligent

One of the more frequent questions I get is why Telligent? I joined the Telligent team about a year and half ago. Previously I was a co-founder of a Professional Services firm that focuses on custom application development and works extensively with Microsoft. I was the VP of Sales & Marketing, a member of the Board of Directors and had equity in the organization. So why leave for Telligent? Two words, Vision and Collaboration. When I met with Rob Howard, Jason AlexanderScott Dockendorf and remotely with Scott Watermasysk one thing became very clear, this was a team that has the vision and domain knowledge to do something truly unique.

When you first meet Rob Howard one of the first things you will notice is the passion that he has for Telligent and Community Server. If you ever happen to catch him at a conference, or via webex demonstrating Community Server you will immediately recognize that Rob truly is a thought leader in terms of understanding the application of business intelligence, specifically around collaborative software and online community. More than that though, Rob understands the concept of the blue ocean. Mainly, don’t compete over minor scraps in the red ocean of over saturated products and competition, look for the blue ocean and ensure that the focus of the organization is to build something that provides value but may not be completely mainstream just yet. This is where the collaboration reference comes into play.

One of the big shifts over the past few years is the emergence of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 focuses on collaboration. From an organizational standpoint this trend is really gaining traction with traditional businesses. The move from traditional marketing to a more viral approach has accelerated the emergence of strategy aimed at bottom up marketing, whereas the end consumer either B2B or B2C has direct impact on the direction of marketing strategy for an organization. This was very key for me as it provided an opportunity to guide the marketing direction of a product that was still in the early adopter phase of the product lifecycle. The ability to ride the wave of collaboration combined with the vision and drive of the Telligent team were an easy sell for me. Over the past year we have made significant penetration into a number of great accounts, Disney, Conde Nast, MSNBC, Intel, Dell and Electronic Arts to name a few. What is really exciting is that enterprise level organizations are truly just scratching the surface of what is possible in terms of Web 2.0 marketing strategy and software solutions. This means that Telligent and Community Server will continue to be in very high demand.

This year has already started with a bang and with the release of Community Server 2007 which is the best Community Server release to date it just keeps getting better. The roadmap is defined and we are looking to do some very special things in upcoming releases. Look for the announcement of some very large initiatives that are in the works and will be launching later this year, one is just mind boggling and definitely affirm that Community Server can scale to meet the needs of almost any organization.

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Why The Black Fin

Hello and Welcome to the Black Fin Blog. I am Tom Edwards, VP, Sales & Marketing at Telligent Systems. The purpose of this blog is to provide additional insight into Telligent and Community Server as well as provide my perspective on sales & marketing. So why the Black Fin? It is a newly acquired nickname given to me by one my co-workers. He thought it would be funny to name my hair, so it stuck. Yes I choose to go with a more aerodynamic approach, but hey it can cut through water like nothing else. Anyway, I will try to keep it light and interesting moving forward.

I am an avid gamer (Xbox 360 is my platform of choice) gamertag – TheBlackFin. Look me up on either the http://www.360voice.com/ or anytime you are on Xbox live. I am always up to co-op on the latest game.

Take care,

Tom