Monday, October 25, 2010

C. Enrique Ortiz Discusses the "Mobi" Space in Austin and the U.S.

(Note:  Matt Scherer, our publicist, had the opportunity to interview  C. Enrique Ortiz, the founder of MobileMonday Austin and a panelist for InnoTech Austin's Mobile Application Marketplace session.  Here’s Ortiz’ take on what is happening within the “mobi” space not only in Austin but also in the U.S.)

Q1:  What caused you to want to get into working with mobile telephone platforms in 1998?
 Back in 1998 I used to work on embedded technologies when I was exposed to mobile & wireless; that was the time when handsets and the networks were not as advanced as they are today,  the early days of CDMA (code division multiple access) , CDPD (cellular digital packet data)  GSM  (global systems for mobile communications) , HDML (Handheld Device Markup Language)  and the beginnings of WAP, BlackBerry pagers, Palm OS, WinCE and so on. That is when I immediately recognized the potential for such connected personal devices and what the future was going to be. It was very exciting.

Q2:   From reading a little about you, you mention the concept of "people-centric mobile computing." What do you mean by this term?
  Over the years, I realized the relationship between mobile and what I call people-centric computing. It is a term that I defined years ago to highlight the importance of putting the user and his/her mobile-context at the center of the mobile sofware design. Writing software for mobile is not the same as for fixed desktops or PCs. When designing software for mobile handsets, many other factors must be considered, from location to the social context, the characteristics of the device, the user preferences and other -- all must be taken into account when designing software for mobile.

Q3:   What are some of the biggest changes that people can expect from their mobile devices in the next 12 to 18 months?
  There are different challenges for different people. For some such as early adopters, it is about what they can do with their handsets. These early adopters have access to high-end handsets, access to the Internet, the Web and applications, music on their handsets, personal information and access to friends. This segment of the population consumes large amount of data so their challenges are more around network speeds and tiered data-plans and handset capabilities (that is, what they can do with the handset). For others, the concerns are more about cost. This segment may not have access to higher-end devices and data-plans but still want to use their phone to access information, so there are challenges on how to accomplish that.

Q4: How has Austin become one of the leaders in mobile telephone development and what can we expect in the future?
  There are a number of top cities when it comes to mobile sofware and applications: Silicon Valley, New York, Seattle and Austin to name a few. In the early 2000s, Austin was a hot bed for mobile/wireless. After the dot-com bubble, it slowed down dramatically. Today it is picking up again. This is a result of many factors. On one side, mobility is finally getting the attention of software designers and developers in general. Combine this with what Austin has to offer, from its friendly people, great city to live on, the University of Texas and VCs, and other. The trend is here and we should expect more startups in Austin and more innovation happening right here.

Hear more from C. Enrique Ortiz at InnoTech this Thursday, October 28th.

Torvald Hessel Discusses The Austin Planetarium's Past, Present, & Future

(Note:  With just a few days until InnoTech, our publicist Matt Scherer is hard at work generating “buzz” for our Oct. 28 event.  Here’s a recent online interview with Torvald Hessel, the executive director of the Friends of the Austin Planetarium.  As part of InnoTech, the planetarium will showcase their mobile facility.)

Q1:  What inspired you to begin the process to build a planetarium?
I used to work in a planetarium in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I worked there for several years while earning my graduate degree in Astrophysics from the University of Amsterdam. I emigrated to the US in 1999 and ended up in Austin a year later. Then in 2003 I realized that Austin does not have a planetarium. I missed my old job dearly, so I “simply” decided to build a planetarium for Austin. I mean, how difficult can it be, right?

 Q2:  As the husband of a retired physics teacher who taught astronomy, I know that "hands on" interaction with the stars helps students show more interest in science.  What role does your planetarium have in help promote science education?
A: Although our role is limited (because we still do not have a planetarium and science museum), it is certainly growing. The new mobile planetarium is a state of the art inflatable planetarium which we bring out to as many schools as we can. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I hope that we will have to purchase a second dome in about a year’s time because we will have reached capacity. It is exceedingly gratifying to see our progress there, even without having finished the real thing yet.

Q3:  Right now, you'll have the mobile planetarium at InnoTech.  When can we expect to see a full planetarium where school tours can visit your facility?
If everything goes according to schedule, we hope to be able to open doors in late 2014. However, there are still many crucial pieces to cover before we can do this. Right now the most important thing is the site selection. We are looking to build right across the street from the Bob Bullock State History museum and the Blanton Museum of Art. We are working with the state on a long term lease, and we hope to have something concrete by the next legislative session.

Check out the Planetarium at InnoTech Austin this Thursday, October 28th. To register, visit

Thursday, October 21, 2010

InnoTech Austin Kicks Off in One Week!

We are one short week away from InnoTech Austin. If you haven't yet, be sure to register today!

Here are a few of the highlights planned for this year's event:
  • Take on the Guitar Hero World Champion, Danny Johnson at the Time Warner Cable Business Class booth (#427)
  • Stop by our Social Media Lounge (powered by FeedMagent) and find out what everyone is saying about InnoTech
  • Network with your peers at our Happy 45 Minute reception (sponsored by Sigma Solutions) and the InnoTech After Party (at Fogo de Chao, sponsored by
  • Visit Austin's own Mobile Planetarium. Located in Ballroom D next to the food court
  • Plus, much more!
As always, InnoTech Austin is dedicated to bringing you quality, informative and relevant sessions throughout the whole day. For the entire line-up, visit

We look forward to seeing you there!

-Your InnoTech Team

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sheila Scarborough discusses Social Media in the Travel Industry

(Note:  Contributing blogger Matt Scherer recently interviewed Sheila Scarborough.  Scarborough, the co-founder of Tourism Currents, will speak at the Austin InnoTech eMarketing Summit Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. as part of a panel "Social Media 12 Months From Today" She discussed the changes within social media for the travel industry.)

Q:    What inspired you to start blogging on travel?

A:  After doing some writing about maritime topics while on active duty in the Navy, I decided when I left the military that since I loved to write and loved to travel, I would combine the two.

I started out blogging specifically about family travel because even as a newbie, I could see that it would be better to cover a niche if I was going to blog. My parents took me all over the world and I try to do the same with my kids, who are now 18 and 11. I launched a free traveler’s blog on the BootsnAll Travel Network because it gave me a built-in audience, so that someone besides me and my Mom would read my work.

Later on, I joined with other bloggers to write for the Perceptive Travel blog, plus I covered NHRA drag racing on Fast Machines for awhile and then started my own personal blog and co-founded a learning community (Tourism Currents, teaching social media for tourism.

I still do print work in state and national publications, but my heart is definitely online.

Q: I noted your military experience in the Navy.  Does that give you an insight into traveling to different places that most people would never get?

A:  Well, a Navy port visit is usually longer than the average cruise ship stop, although not by much. It's a good way to take a quick look at a place, though. 

The biggest advantage of my time in the military (and from growing up in a Navy family, too) is the opportunity to be stationed all over the U.S. and also outside the States. I've been an expat three times - Bahrain, Japan and the Netherlands - and that more than anything else it has taught me how to be pretty comfortable in many different environments.

It's also made me very sensitive to how hard it can be to communicate in a language that's not your native tongue.  I never sound like a bigger moron than when I try to mangle French.

Q:   With travel blogs, resorts and other destinations get an unfiltered review of their hospitality and overall service.   How many resorts are truly monitoring social media?

A:  Not as many as you'd think. Remember how long it took to get hotels to pay attention to TripAdvisor? Literally years. That's where we are right now with Yelp, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Many properties are oblivious. They have no idea when they're linked to in a blog post; they have no idea how to "listen" online.

Those that are paying attention often don't know how to engage, even something as simple as saying "thanks" in response to a positive review, or saying "Sorry about that, how can we fix it?" in response to a poor review. So many see social media as a threat, not an opportunity. I wish they weren't so scared of a comment box.

Those that do engage, like the Roger Smith Hotel in New York, the Hotel Max in Seattle, the Elkhorn Inn in West Virginia or the Authentic Seacoast resorts in Nova Scotia are rewarded with word of mouth support and deeper relationships with their customers.

Q:  For those that don't, what should they do to monitor what is being said about them.

A:  Google the name of your destination/lodging/attraction and look not just at the "Everything" results, but also results from Images, Videos, Blogs, Updates (Twitter) and Discussions (forums.) 

Do a general search for your name on Facebook, scrolling all the way down to see "Posts by Everyone."  You will see results even from people who aren't connected to you, which is horrible for privacy considerations but useful in market research.

Use and look for mentions of your destination or attraction, including common misspellings.  You can monitor those keywords continuously with a column on a Twitter dashboard service like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

Make this monitoring a habit, a few minutes a day at minimum to scan the chatter.  Yes, you have time. You answer the phone and respond to letters, right? It's just customer service, folks.

Q:  Do  you have any other comments or thoughts on the travel blogging industry?

A:  We are at a very interesting intersection in the publishing world right now. Content is moving online and expanding into many different channels when it gets there, but getting paid decently for producing it is another matter.

I'm convinced that chasing eyeball numbers, gaming search engines and hoping people will click things is ultimately a losing proposition, but I'm having a hard time articulating a better alternative.  It has something to do with creating content that is unique, gives people what they're looking for and can't find except for a few special places.  People are willing to pay for that. We are also going to see more long-term relationships/sponsorships with high-visibility blogs....sort of a variation  on the branded "Hallmark Hall of Fame" TV shows.

Why does "The Economist" continue to do well worldwide, with its dense, long articles and coverage of hefty, often relatively obscure topics? Because lightweight "Top 10 Beaches" content only gets you so far.  What beach information elicits real interest? The annual report from "Dr. Beach," with academic analysis of coastal areas that are not necessarily well known but meet a respected guy's high standards.

Find your niche and special voice, then connect....on- and off-line....with those who love it.

Hear more from Sheila Scarborough at InnoTech, Thursday, October 28, 2010.  For more information or to register for the eMarketing Summit, click here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beta Summit Participants Announced

We want to extend a big congratulations to the six companies chosen to participate in this year's Beta Summit. Bryan Menell, Managing Editor of will host the 4th annual Beta Summit which offers a sneak peek into the future of technology in and around Austin introduced through a series of 6 eight-minute, fast paced presentations and live demonstrations by some of the community's most promising companies. Here are the companies presenting:
Hurricane Party
Recycle Match
Ricochet Labs
Social Smack

Click on any of these companies to find out a little more about them. Then, be sure to attend InnoTech Austin on October 28th and see firsthand what they're all about. Register today at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Austin's Mobile Planetarium Featured at InnoTech Austin

We are only two short weeks away from InnoTech Austin and putting the final touches on a great conference. This year we are excited to offer attendees the chance to visit Austin's own Mobile Planetarium. The Mobile Planetarium will be set up in in Ballroom D (where the InnoTech Austin exhibit hall will be) near the food court. The dome is eighteen feet in diameter on the inside, with a footprint of about 25 feet, and is 12 feet high. Come inside and be instantly transported to space!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mike Chapman Discusses Social Media in the 2010 Governor's Race

(Note:  Working with Bill Leake, Mike Chapman, a principal with Apogee Campaigns, is working with him to put together the e-Marketing track for InnoTech.  Matt Scherer, our publicist, conducted this interview with him about the use of social media tools in the 2010 Texas Governor's race.)

Q. With the 2010 election coming up, what has been the biggest difference in social media strategies as compared to 2008?
Mike Chapman: There is a much wider adoption of social media, especially among conservatives, following the lopsided success by the Obama campaign in this area two years ago.

Q. We have a spirited race for governor of Texas. Who is winning the social media battle?
Chapman: I'm not sure how you determine a winner on social media because there are so many different measurements you can use. Both Rick Perry and Bill White are using a wide range of social media channels to reach out to supporters and potential supporters. Perry has a personal Twitter account that he updates, which is impressive given that he is the CEO of the State of Texas. White is very aggressive on Facebook and has a large following there. I always advise using the social media channels that you are most comfortable with and it appears that both men are doing that.

Q. Even though we have seen some success in social media strategy, some politicians and their advisors are resorting to old school tactics like yard signs and telemarketing phone calls. Will social media eventually replace those marketing tools?
Chapman: Social media can reach voters where the "old school" tactics may not. Conversely, there are those voters who don't utilize computers, much less social media. I would never advise a candidate to voluntarily stop communicating with either group. There is, however, a consideration for cost effectiveness. Television, print, and other traditional advertising and marketing channels might be too expensive in some cases and social media can sometimes serve as a cost effective alternative.

Q.  What future changes do you see for 2012?
Chapman: Wider spread adoption of social media and the beginnings of some legislative and regulatory oversight of their use will begin to be seen in 2012. I predict the Iowa Republican caucuses will see very lively social media wars and that neither Republicans or Democrats will leave any stone unturned in the general election as it relates to online communications.

For details on the 2010 eMarketing Summit at InnoTech, click here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

InnoTech Austin Hashtag and Social Media Lounge Information

We here at InnoTech are full supporters of social media and it's capabilities. So, we are excited to announce this year's official twitter hashtag for InnoTech Austin #innotechatx (If you aren't already, be sure to follow us @innotechaustin and become our friend on facebook

Have something to say about InnoTech Austin? Be sure to use #innotechatx when you tweet about the conference. At this year's event, our friends at FeedMagnet will be compiling all of your tweets, facebook posts, gowalla check-ins and flickr updates related to #innotechatx and posting them in our Social Media Lounge. We are excited to hear what you have to say!

Monday, October 4, 2010

One Month Until InnoTech Austin

We are a little under one month away from this year's InnoTech Austin. Join us for this once a year event! To register, visit

Friday, October 1, 2010

William Hurley discusses the past year and collaboration in Austin

William "Whurley" Hurley is one of the featured speakers for our Oct. 28 event. Recently, Matt Scherer, InnoTech Austin's publicity manager, sat down with Mr. Hurley about his past year and why he thinks Austin is the center for mobi tech.

Q: So, it's been a year since you were named as the AITP Information Technology of the Year. What is happening with the flux capacitor and the Whurley movement?
A: It's been an insane year. I left BMC Software in November of 2009 and took a few months off to be with my family. In January, I co-founded Chaotic Moon Studios (The Mobile Application Studio) and everything has been a blur since. Currently, the flux capacitor is in my office in Austin, but I'm living in New York City through December (maybe January) with about 12 people from Team Chaos, as we work on a very secret mission with one of our new clients.

Q: How has Austin become a center for collaborative efforts within mobi tech and other platforms?
A: Austin is always a leader in collaboration, and the mobile space is no different. Chaotic Moon Studios is leading several community projects and events.e have even supported several "competitors" when they've run into more complex issues. I think mobile is going to be all about collaboration, and I think Austin will lead the way in that space because of the vibrant community we have.

Q: What are some of the programs that you're coordinating for Innotech so that we can continue the growth?
A: I have been working in two spaces - augmented reality and mobi software development. My program will focus on the growing relationship between both of them and their growth within Austin as well as in other areas.

Q: And finally, is there anything else you wish to add?
A: I'm really looking forward to coming back to Austin for the event. It will be great to be in touch with the community that Innotech provides and catch up on what everyone is doing.
Hear more from William Hurley at InnoTech, Thursday, October 28, 2010.

Howard Charney: The Networked Economy and Cisco

Howard Charney, Senior Vice President, Office of the President, Cisco is one of the featured speakers for our Oct. 28 event. Recently, Matt Scherer, InnoTech Austin's publicity manager, sat down with Mr. Charney about the future of the networked economy and Cisco's role.

Q: In an August 11 article in the Wall Street Journal, John Chambers, your company's chief executive officer, said your company was going to add 2000 more jobs. In these uncertain economic times, how has Cisco been able to expand its business operations?

A: Well, first off, Cisco has a focus on operational excellence and productivity. We entered the downturn in a very strong position and that has given us the opportunity to strengthen our position in our core and adjacent markets. But we're also fortunate that Cisco's products and services are fundamental to business operations and consumer online activities worldwide.

Q: With a bigger focus on platforms in the "Cloud" by companies like yours, what are your expectations for this in the next year to 18 months?

A: The "Cloud" is an example of how quickly this industry evolves. Five years ago, almost no one was talking about cloud - but today it is increasingly strategic for a broad range of industries, for academia, for governments. The "Cloud" is a fairly disruptive model and it will take people time to understand how best to adapt to it and benefit from it. Some of that will be inertia: I have my data siloed on my own servers, thank you very much, and I don't want to risk changing that. But the benefits are likely to become impossible to ignore, at least for organizations that want to remain competitive. Cloud services will expand exponentially as the industry develops cloud standards and infrastructure, and we all grasp the interplay between private and public clouds, and the perceived barriers - such as pricing models, and concerns about reliability and security - are addressed effectively.

Q: Through the years, CISCO has grown because of its ability to partner with other companies, including your former company, Grand Junction. As you continue your growth, what types of partnerships are you looking for with other companies?
A: I should make the distinction between partnerships and acquisitions. Cisco has many great partners and distributors and resellers and they are fundamental to our business model. But we also acquire companies with technology that's strategic to our business. That's how I joined the company - when Cisco acquired Grand Junction Networks back in 1995. Grand Junction developed fast Ethernet and low-cost switching, and after Cisco bought my company in 1995 I helped build that segment, within Cisco, into a more than $2.4 billion business. Linksys and Scientific Atlanta and Flip and now Tandberg are other examples of strategic businesses that Cisco identified and successfully integrated into its portfolio. Going forward, we'll continue to go to market with our many partners. We'll look for innovative companies and technologies that expand our presence in our core and adjacent markets. And we'll continue to develop technology in-house, too, by the way. We spend more than $5 billion every year on our own R&D (research and development).

Q: Is there anything else you wish to add about your talk at InnoTech?
A: I tend to be an optimist - and I see a really bright future ahead, not just for Cisco or Texas or the United States but for communities and countries around the world. We are entering a phase of the information revolution where the capabilities we've all been talking about for the past 30 years are suddenly really viable. Thanks to broadband... thanks to virtualization and the cloud... thanks to the new undersea cable that recently went into service in Africa... thanks to tiny, smart, wireless devices... a whole new spectrum of possibilities is opening up in energy, and education, and healthcare, and other areas. And I believe that that's going to improve the quality of people's lives in ways we are only just beginning to understand.
Hear more from Howard Charney at InnoTech, Thursday, October 28, 2010.