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Musings on Architecture, Installment 1

There comes a time in the evolution of building a technology platform that you have to pause and look back where you’ve come from, before continuing on with the journey. As I think back to the formation of the Cisco Eos platform, it was a time of hard work and rapid growth.

The Cisco Media Solutions Group went from being a business unit with an idea, to truly taking form in 2007 when Cisco made three software acquisitions—Five Across, the assets of Tribe.net and the assets of Click.tv. From that day forward, we were charged with developing an innovative platform that could get media companies online in a simple, manageable way. That long journey started with the single though difficult step of uniting three independent companies and countless independent perspectives into a single team executing against a single vision.

As with any consolidation effort, tough decisions had to be made. One of the most important we faced was what development platform we were going to leverage. Our three teams had experience in just as many languages: Ruby on Rails, PHP, and Java – not to mention Adobe Flex and even a bit of C. After much debate, we chose to use Java for the back end, which includes the core Cisco Eos data and content components like blogs, discussions, and member profiles. And we chose PHP for the front end, the dynamic page-rendering environment that our users can customize for presentation to end consumers. Read More »

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Enriching the Content Experience on ALL Screens with Cisco Eos

Working with our customers, we see media companies in all stages of the social entertainment development process. Many have taken the first step and have begun integrating social features into branded web sites, leveraging Cisco Eos to build out the social experience. However, it is when media companies stop here that they immediately leave fans longing for more.

You may be thinking, “But my competitors haven’t gone any further than this, so we must be in line with what users want, right?” To address this, I ask you this question, “How do you personally interact with content?”

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have a smartphone that gives you the ability to use targeted interactive apps or surf the internet. You may have taken it a step further and bought an iPad to get this same mobile experience on a larger screen. If you fit into either of these scenarios, ask yourself why your consumers aren’t also looking to take advantage of these platforms to engage with your content. As with any product or service, individual users have individual preferences. To fully reach your target audience, you need to provide access to content from all of the devices they use. If you don’t, you run the risk of leaving a large percentage unsatisfied, or turning them off from repeat visits.

If last month’s SXSW Interactive Conference brought anything to the forefront, it is that people are increasingly interested in using mobile web and mobile apps to view content anywhere, anytime. If you are in charge of developing social entertainment experiences across your content portfolios, it is time to start reaching beyond the desktop computer to mobile devices. If you fail to extend your social entertainment experiences to all screens, you are missing the ability to capitalize on a very important, very large audience growth opportunity. Read More »

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Is there Gold in the Trash? Lessons from the Film Industry

Recently at the Consumer Electronics Show I had a enlightening conversation with the head of a major movie studio.  He told me that they spend close to $1 billion annually to “acquire the same customer over and over--people that go to movies.”  That’s because the natural goal with each movie is to maximize box office revenue.  Since web properties deliver little incremental revenue today, all their effort is placed on the traditional revenue streams.

They create web properties and social engagement platforms primarily for promotional purposes that live for about four to six weeks after the in-theater window.  Then, they are abandoned and they start over on the next film.  With the cost of the average Hollywood movie promotional website running about $1-3 million, the studios lose an opportunity to understand, engage and monetize that audience.

The lack of recognition on digital opportunities goes even deeper.  At the Digital Media Wire/Variety Future of Film Conference, a tech startup that does social widgets for film sites said they loved coming to Hollywood because it was “like printing money--every film studio wants to ‘do social.’”  They said they were surprised at the end of each engagement because they’d try to transfer the audience data they collected via the widget back to the studio, and they’d be told to keep it; that the use of that data wasn’t the studio’s “job” and that they wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.  The startup said it was fascinating to watch studio CFOs scrutinize the ROI on every campaign as measured by impressions, click through rates, etc, but then walk away from the most valuable assets--the data and the relationship with the consumer--that the social app was generating.

Movie studios perhaps are optimizing around revenue today (box office) but not yet optimizing around the revenue and asset of tomorrow.   That asset is data.  By having a source of data about their audience that can do useful things, studios can both decrease marketing costs and develop new revenue sources around that audience and film property.

While Cisco Eos can help studios accomplish short term promotional goals via a socially enabled entertainment experience, the real added value is over the long term.  That value is realized in three ways: Read More »

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SXSW Recap: Panels, Concerts and Showcases

SXSW has become an increasingly important event for the media and entertainment industry. The numbers themselves are telling—the show has had five+ years of double digit growth, and organizers said there was a 40 percent increase in registrations for the interactive portion this year compared to 2010.  On the music and film side, organizers said that last week, the city of Austin, TX saw 2,000 bands perform on 92 stages, and there were more than 275 film screenings.

While the conference and festival’s increased prominence brings more eyeballs, it also means it’s harder to stand out from the crowd. Brands need a strong online presence to create interest and drive audiences to their physical events.

Not only did we participate in the conference portion of the festival, but Cisco Eos powered the sites behind Atlantic Records’ SXSW events, driving interest and real value over the course of this much anticipated event. These turned out to be some of the highlights of SXSW: Read More »

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News@Cisco Week in Review and Look Ahead: March 7-11

Miss anything this week? No worries! Check out the top stories from Cisco and see what to look out for next week!

1.) Talk2Cisco: Work Life Redesign -- What You Need to Know

Talk2Cisco will be broadcasting live on Tuesday, March 15 at 10 am PT! Join Cisco executives Carlos Dominguez and Lance Perry as they share the benefits of incorporating web 2.0 technologies into work and life! Follow @Talk2Cisco on Twitter for updates on the broadcast and see you live on Tuesday!

2.) The Future of Television: What Can You Expect?

Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) offers predictions on the future of television, basing its research on interviews and the examination of three industry drivers — technology, consumer behavior, and business models.

3.) Book Publishing: A Faster, More Social Approach

The book publishing industry is stuck in a rut and desperately needs new ideas. The Domino Project, a publishing platform that uses the power of social media to help writers spread their ideas and connect to readers could be the answer according to writers Marc Gunther and Seth Godin! Read more about how the book publishing business is becoming more social!

4.) Top Tech Tips: Building the Ideal Home Entertainment System

Does it take you awhile to adopt new technology? If so, then this is the article for you! Check out this fun, tipped-filled article aimed at those who don’t fall into the early adopter or fanatical enthusiast set.

Here is some stuff to look out for next week…

  • The Dawn of the Networked Remote Control Feature: After half a century, the familiar clicker is being replaced by smart phones and tablets. Find out more about the new remote control on Monday!
  • Machine-to-machine mobile communications emerges as new growth area: M2M mobile communication is any situation where one machine communicates with another over the mobile network, without human intervention.  Learn more about this new development next week!

Have you followed our new Cisco News Twitter handle yet? If not, be sure to follow @CiscoNews for up-to-date news and information from Cisco!

Also, we are launching a new corporate news site soon! Check out the video below to learn a little more. Have a great weekend!

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