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Ethan McCarty, Director of Enterprise Social Strategy and Programs, IBM

Ethan McCarty, Director of Enterprise Social Strategy and Programs, IBM

By Ethan McCarty

A brand’s true currency is its reputation, which derives from all the experiences people have with it. Maintaining that reputation requires a delicate balance, especially when we’re all connected through social media.

The key to success for today’s brands is to embrace authenticity. This means exploring ways to engage individuals instead of demographics. It’s proving relevance and value through utility instead of making over-simplified claims. And it means allowing employees and advocates to have a share in the corporate voice. Ours is a world that increasingly favors transparency over a neatly packaged message.

Throughout its history, IBM has maintained that its brand is best experienced through the IBMer. After all, what could we possibly say about ourselves that could be more interesting than our researchers finding new ways to treat cancer or developing computer chips that have neurons and synapses? Continue Reading »

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Like other media companies around the world, Australia’s Fairfax Media Limited is under pressure due to the fast-changing dynamics in publishing. But Fairfax isn’t taking those challenges lying down. The company, which is a leading media outfit in Australia and New Zealand, owns two of the most popular news Web sites in Australia. “We now have a business based around journalism that creates a large audience, and we hit that audience in print, online, tablet, smartphone and smart TV,” says Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Fairfax is a prime example of a company that has aggressively adopted technology to transform the way it does business and interacts with customers. Hywood was a featured speaker today at IBM’s CMO+CIO Leadership Symposium in Sydney, where IBM executives and clients interacted with nearly 100 chief marketing and chief information officers from Australia’s leading companies.

In a keynote address, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told the audience that the explosion of data makes it possible for companies to address customers as individuals. “I think this will change the relationship you have with your customers fundamentally, no matter what industry,” she said. “And it will change the relationship between the CMO and CIO.”

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Jonathan Taplin, Director, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab

By Jonathan Taplin

Before I became a university professor, I had a long career in the entertainment business–first as a concert producer for the likes of Bob Dylan and The Band, and later as producer of motion pictures, including Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets and The Last Waltz.

Both the music and movie industries have been utterly transformed by the Internet, in positive and negative ways. But I sense that we’re still at the beginning stages of this big shift, and that some of the most interesting developments are yet to come. For example, social sentiment analysis is going to change the game for Hollywood marketing.

Evidence of the changes and challenges to come is abundant in the Film Forecaster analysis that USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and IBM conducted over the past few weeks at the front end of the holiday movie viewing season. It also surfaced in an LA event we hosted on Wednesday night, A Night Behind the Movies, where the panel included Robert Friedman, co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

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by Martin Guillaume, Media & Entertainment Leader, IBM Global Business Services, Europe

The era of the connected consumer is forcing many media organizations to rethink not only how they operate but also how they remain relevant. Today’s audiences are exposed to more content across more channels than ever before. The way this content is discovered, shared and consumed is also changing.

Standard forms of TV viewing are no longer the norm as more and more consumers turn to the Internet and catch-up services to access the latest in programming. As a result, delivering differentiated live content such as sports, concerts, reality shows or news across an expanding set of channels and devices is a challenge broadcasters need to tackle quickly and claim their rightful place in this rapidly changing landscape.

As an example, today at the International Broadcasting Conference in Amsterdam, Canal+ announced it is using IBM technology and services to launch and manage new multi-channel and services platform delivering on-demand, web and mobile TV to enhance the customer experience. This demonstrates how broadcasters are seeking to differentiate in a world where they no longer have audiences –  they have consumers.

Broadcasters must continue to innovate and look for news ways to engage this connected consumer and the growing phenomenon of ‘second screen’ is becoming an integral part of this strategy. How many times have you caught up on your Facebook or Twitter feed whilst watching TV? Consumers tweet, comment, play, blog and surf the Internet all the while watching television, therefore, broadcasters need to work even harder to engage viewers.

This challenge is an extraordinary opportunity in disguise and broadcasters can use it to enrich experiences and engage viewers. Television stations are beginning to tap into how audiences are second screens whilst watching TV, and are encouraging consumers to provide feedback and create an online buzz by providing Twitter hashtags at the start of a show.

Broadcasters can also integrate and capitalize on second screen functionality in other ways.

For example, the boundaries between television, Internet and gaming are blurring – simply look at EA’s FIFA 2012 football game, which now offers a replay of any action from any angle. Consumers expect to navigate and experience live sports in the same way with the ability to replay a sequence from the vantage point of any player via a second screen embedded in live programming.

This live television fusion phenomenon for sport does not stop there. The depth of statistics available for football matches and other sports is reaching unprecedented levels. Speed, pace and stamina can be captured, analysed and compared in real time offering viewers new insights. At the recent Wimbledon Championships, fans were able to view an additional layer of insight through SlamTracker on that tracked points, player momentum and progress against each player’s ‘keys to the match’. Revenue opportunities can be realised through price-tiered ‘data’ packages, which enable customers to pay for additional insightful data related to the content they are viewing.

But the real payback for the CMO or broadcaster is that they do not need to guess who is watching, they will know who is actively interacting with them. Knowing it is Kevin Smith, the twenty-something football and cooking and fan rather than Susan Smith, Kevin’s mother who prefers cycling and gardening is invaluable information. From placing better ads to making more intelligent program suggestions, this interaction with the Smith household is changing forever. And we are beginning to see uptake of this strategy – TP Vision recently that it using data stored within IBM SmartCloud to provide new insight about consumer needs and behavior.

Using advanced analytics to better understand these evolving customers allows the CMO to capture and leverage valuable information that allows them to anticipate customers’ changing preferences and turn these insights into new offerings which drive customer loyalty. For broadcasters this information can help improve production, cross-channel distribution, customer service and implement marketing strategies that are in line with customer sentiment.

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September 7th, 2012

By Albert Larcada, ESPN Stats & Information

With the quantity of data and quality of computers rising at an exponential rate, the role of analytics in all industries is growing. Stores are using analytics to increase sales, pharmaceutical companies are using analytics to develop better drugs and human resource groups are using analytics to make smarter hires. The sports industry is no different.

Professional sports organizations across the world are using analytics to make better decisions. Successful front offices like the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder are using new data and analysis to make decisions on which players to draft and acquire. Successful coaches like the NBA Miami Heat’s Eric Spoelstra are using advanced statistical analysis to determine what plays to run and what lineups perform best together. Some coaches, like the Atlanta Falcons’ Mike Smith, are even starting to use analytics to break old traditions when the numbers say it’s a good choice to do so.   And abroad players at major professional soccer clubs like England’s Manchester City are beginning to use data to help themselves improve while on the pitch.

Media companies are beginning to use analytics as well to help tell better stories. Data visualization is a great way to summarize a large number of data points into a picture that a viewer or reader can grasp quickly. In the specific Mariano Rivera case below, plotting thousands of Rivera’s pitches illustrates that he consistently keeps the ball on the inside part of the strike zone vs left-handed hitters, which limits the damage against him.

Analytics also help media put context around big events like the effect of free throw shooting in the NBA Finals or the pros and cons of onside kicking in the NFL. These are things that help fans better understand the intricacies of the games they love. Continue Reading »

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by Steven L. Canepa, General Manager, Global Media & Entertainment Industry

Today, customers zip from device to device, virtually shouting their likes, dislikes, needs, wants, and desires over the Internet – creating a noisy, cluttered, yet content-rich world, particularly in the media & entertainment industry. It will be no different at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 6 – 16). Whether it’s about a new movie, a new director or actor and actress, consumers everywhere want to voice their opinions about what’s hot, what’s a must see and what’s going to tank at the movie theater.

The ability to analyze the social sentiment of the movies screened becomes even more important for independent movie producers – - like those previewing movies in Toronto. What if the writers and producers of “7 Boxes,” “Detroit Unleaded” or “Casting By” had insight into the viewers’ thoughts at that very moment? What if they were able to understand the audience, filter through positive, negative or sarcastic comments, and then integrate that data analysis to truly capture the voice of the crowd?

Social sentiment analysis can provide a level of insight that has the capacity to instantly change how a character is portrayed, how a scene is interpreted or even the overall success of the movie storyline – all based on the peaks and dips in social media chatter. Yet, more importantly, social sentiment can help the movie industry improve their marketing programs by offering insight into audience preferences in a way that has never been done before. As the Professor Jonathan Taplin, Director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, and member of the Academy states “It’s like having a million person focus group.”

Follow IBM’s Social Sentiment Index at #IBMindex

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By Stephen Hammer, IBM Interactive Leader

The 2012 US Open tennis tournament is here and fans are gearing up to watch the world’s best tennis players compete over the next two weeks. For the avid tennis fan, keeping track of everything happening at the tournament is quite an undertaking.

I’ve worked at IBM for 15 years, and I’ve collaborated with sports organizations throughout my tenure. I’ve witnessed a lot of changes at the US Open during this time—from tournament location to acrylic courts—but what I have found consistent over this period is how existing technologies are transformed for these big events. This year’s US Open will continue this trend with the introduction of several Official US Open apps developed by IBM.

Remember when instant messaging (think AOL) was popular because for the first time people were able to instantly connect and communicate with one another? You may even recall the wide interest in posting photographs online during the 90s. Over the years, these concepts have evolved and are now the underpinning of social channels used around the world. We now have Twitter, Flickr and Instagram, which use the same interfacing technology to send short messages and share photos, but in a more user-friendly way that serves current interests.

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August 28th, 2012

By Lauren States, CTO, IBM Cloud Computing and Growth Initiatives

For major sporting events, Big Data via the cloud is a game changer — literally.

This week, nearly 700,000 people will descend on the U.S. Tennis Center in New York to watch the world’s best players compete in the 2012 U.S. Open. But this year, millions of fans catching the action on their PC, tablet or smartphone may actually have the best seat in the house.

Thanks to Big Data, predictive analytics and cloud computing, fans from around the world will have access to real-time insight based on millions of data points – illustrating each player’s keys to winning the match.

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Now that’s a real advantage over simply sitting courtside keeping an eye on the scoreboard. So what’s the takeaway for business and government?

From Wimbledon to U.S. Open Golf, Roland Garros to U.S. Open Tennis, we see distinct parallels between the IT needs of big events and those of the enterprise. In fact, it’s often said that sports is a metaphor for life – but in some ways, sports is a metaphor for business as well.

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by Rick Singer, VP, Sponsorship Marketing, IBM

The end of summer brings one of the most popular global sports events of the year — the US Open.

More than 700,000 fans are expected to attend the matches at the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in  Queens, making the US Open the most-attended, single sports event in the world. Even more viewers are expected to watch this year’s tournament on TV, topping the 53 million viewers who tuned in last year on CBS and ESPN.

And a record number of fans are expected to follow the US Open matches on their mobile devices, or seek out the latest match results, news or live streaming of tennis matches at on their computers at work or at home. We’re expecting to easily top the 15.5 million visitors who caught the action last year via the tournament’s website. These are big numbers all around.

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You might not realize, however, that major sporting events like the US Open are not only exciting to watch and follow, but are also a living lab for how “big data” can translate into big business. This year, the USTA is using business analytics to improve the experience for everyone: fans, tennis players, event organizers and broadcasters.

We’re all asking the same questions about the 2012 Open. What does Sam Stouser have to do to repeat last year’s women’s victory, or how can past winners Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova reign again? What can we expect from the men’s side? With Rafa Nadal sidelined by injury, will past US Open winners Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer win the men’s title? Or will Andy Murray break through, fresh from winning his gold medal at the Olympic Games in London. How can each of them outplay the others to bring home the trophy?

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