Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hundreds Crowd Microsoft NERD for Innovation2010 unConference Kick Off at Tech Tuesday

Close to 300 people crowded into Microsoft NERD for this month's Tech Tuesday. In the spirit of Innovation Month, MassTLC unveiled plans for its Innovation 2010 unConference. Now in its third year, Bill Warner, Council Trustee and Chief Architect of the event, outlined some key enhancements to the program including:

- a "bigger tent" expecting to grow by almost 50% to over 600 attendees;

- increased collaboration with more entrepreneurial organizations including MassChallenge and the MIT Enterprise Forum;

- moving from the suburbs to Boston/Cambridge locations that are accessible by the T; and

- expanding the program over three days - beginning with a pre-party on October 13th followed by unConference sessions and entrepreneur meetings on the 14th and 15th.

MassTLC opened the Entrepreneur Scholarship applications and general admission at the event. Entrepreneurs accepted for scholarships will have much of their admission underwritten by our sponsors and will receive private one-on-one meetings with investors and other experts who can help them move their ideas and companies forward. Interested entrepreneurs should apply online.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Microsoft, WilmerHale, and Google Ventures; and our organizational partners: MassChallenge and MIT Enterprise Forum. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Heather Johnson.

Monday, June 21, 2010

IBM Opens Mass Lab, IBM's Largest in North America

I dropped by for the opening of IBM's new "Mass Lab," the largest IBM Software Development Lab in North America, on what turned out to be the company's 99th anniversary. Presiding over the event was MassTLC Trustee Alistair Rennie, Massachusetts Senior State Executive for IBM. Governor Deval Patrick and Steve Mills, Senior VP of IBM's software business, spoke about education and entrepreneurial spirit prior to the official ribbon cutting. (Pictured from left to right are Alistair Rennie, Steve Mills, Governor Patrick, and Secretary for Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki.)

The new Mass Lab, comprised of sites in Littleton and Westford, is home to 3,400 engineers and is of similar square footage as Boston's Fenway Park or the TD Garden. The facility brings together employees from IBM's 14 Massachusetts acquisitions including: Ascential, Cognos, Lotus, Rational, and most recently Ounce Labs and Guardium Corporation.

According to their press materials, the Mass Lab will create software that manages some of the world's most complex process and infrastructure problems such as modernizing and automating the world's physical and digital infrastructures -- from railroads, water management, food traceability and healthcare modernization to electronic medical records, fraud detection and energy management through smart grids.

The IBM Mass Lab is also developing software for the new era of enterprise mobile computing fostering more effective collaboration and integration to support an increasingly mobile workforce and made the following announcements in conjunction with the grand opening:
- IBM Delivers a New Level of Intelligence to the Expanding Mobile Business Market
- IBM Helps Mobile Communications Providers Gain Control of Cell Sites
- MADE IN IBM LABS: New 'Email Triage' Technology Helps Manage Urgent Issues on Mobile Devices

Together, IBM Mass Lab in Littleton/Westford, IBM Research in Cambridge, and IBM Innovation Center in Waltham house over 5,000 employees in Massachusetts.

Photo credit: Rodney Brown, Mass High Tech

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cisco Makes Bay State its Mobile HQ, Solidifying Boston's Growing Reputation as a Mobile Hub

In an exciting announcement for the Commonwealth and for MassTLC, Cisco announced that it plans to headquarter its Mobile Internet Technology Group here in Massachusetts. At pre-announcement private reception in downtown Boston, John Chambers and Governor Deval Patrick talked about how the state's fast-recovering IT industry and the great tech ecosystem are a perfect fit for Cisco's expansion plans. Chambers also noted that he predicted that the Bay State would create many more tech powerhouses in the coming months.

The decision by Cisco to establish the mobile group here in Tewsksbury and Boxborugh builds on the company's $2B investment in acquiring Ash Dahod's Starent Networks. Starent built multimedia software enabling many wireless networks to handle the deluge of data now streaming over mobile networks. Cisco noted in its announcement that global mobile data traffic is expected to grow 39-fold over the next five years.

Ash Dahod is reportedly staying on with Cisco to lead the mobile group -- another great development for the local wireless and network communications infrastructure community, as Ash is one of those cornerstone players in the state's tech ecosystem. Before starting Starent, Ash co-founded NetCore Systems, Inc., which was acquired by Tellabs, Inc. in 1999; Sigma Network Systems, Inc., acquired by Standard Microsystems Corporation in 1992.; and Applitek Corporation, which developed the first cable modem and was eventually sold to Bay Networks, Inc.

Full disclosure: Ash Dahod will be speaking at MassTLC's summer mobile program, "The Data Deluge: What It Means for Users, Apps, Carriers and the Future of Mobile," to be held on July 27, 2010 at Microsoft's NERD Center.

Cisco's expansion in Massachusetts is good news for the technology community as it highlights the strength of our region's growing Mobile Cluster and it helps build momentum for the MassTLC 2020 Challenge to grow the tech sector by 100,000 jobs over the coming decade. Cisco's news builds upon an already strong and growing presence the company has had in Massachusetts for more than a decade. John Chambers' commitment to the area (he lived here while leading the Wang Laboratories sales team in the 80's) is a great asset and his team of Paul Bosco, Rich Powers, MassTLC trustee Paiman Noudishani, and now Ash Dahod have been great friends and contributors to MassTLC, MassNetComms, and our tech community. Another great development for our area to celebrate.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Social Media Summit Highlights

The MassTLC Social Media Summit was held at Microsoft NERD on Thursday, June 3rd. More than 125 marketing professionals joined us to hear from keynote speaker, David Weinberger, Senior Researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

In David's keynote, "Social Media at the Crossroads", he highlighted a number of important points that that resonated with the audience including:

-The Web has always been social. The only difference with Web 2.0 is that it's easier to build a presence.

-We are getting comfortable with fallibility. The most popular stuff on YouTube is about humans screwing up. This doesn't embarrass us as much as it used to. This acceptance of our own weaknesses will change the way organizations operate.

-Media is increasingly an echo chamber in which we choose to listen to people who share our views. Echo chambers are bad for democracy and culture, but marketers like them because they say what marketers want to hear. Echo chambers aren't necessarily bad, but if that's the only place you ever talk, you'll never hear other points of view.

Check out David's presentation and for additional information, view Paul Gillin's blog.

The group then participated in open dialogue discussions on the following topics:
- Advanced listening
- Lead generation
- Social media "Outside the Box"
- Overcoming internal resistance to social media
- Social media in regulated industries

Highlights from these discussions include:
- 40% of online interactions come from 10 networks. There are so many places to engage but if you are getting the lions share out of 10, you know where to focus your efforts.
- A great site to see what people are saying and for you to listen is www.boardtracker.com
- People who read blogs vs. post to a blog is 100:1. Blogs are about reading, not necessarily about contributing and participating in the discussion, though several mentioned the great branding your execs can receive by making thoughtful comments
- "Are young people better natural social marketers?" It's not about the tools or the person but the combination of both! Per @amyblack "It's an attitude and a mindset. You need to embrace the idea of putting yourself out there. The younger generation is willing to embrace the idea of transparency because this is what they have grown up. For marketing, you need to put yourselves out there as a person or company and not being afraid of the repercussions because you are comfortable with what you are saying and your fallibility."
- Strategy driven social media– there is still a bit of grounding and unfounded assumptions of why we are doing this. Is it actually worth doing? Getting the word out may not do you any good without a strategy.
- Is the decision chain changing?? The people we are touching may be influencers but not necessarily the final decisions makers. Frame your message so that they can take it on to the decision makers.
- From Gary Beach @CIOonline - Keep sales and marketing away from social media lead gen programs- they'll force think what the customers are saying. Is it true that more of the sales cycle is moving back into marketing? Ask for a bigger budget!
- Both a B2C retail company and a B2B SaaS company mentioned that 80% of their social media time and budget is spent on developing content.
- We should have more scrutiny on the new tools coming out – they may be cool but are they useful and valuable?
- The fear remains to engage in social media in regulated industries. If you listen to what a customer is saying online, legally you have to acknowledge that you heard them and respond.

And finally Sharon Machlis @sharon000 from ComputerWorld shared a few key points from the advanced listening session:

- Don't just "do social networking" for the sake of social networking. It helps to have some idea of initial goals before jumping in. Are you trying to find potential customers or build loyalty among the ones you already have? Or both? Do you want to encourage purchases? Improve your brand image? Provide actual customer service/support? All of the above?

- Don't just monitor social media conversations about your brand. If you want to widen your reach, try finding five words your customers would use to describe your product or service -- without including the product or company name.

For more tips from Sharon visit her blog.

Feel free to share your top takeaway from yesterday's event! Also, let us know if you want to see additional follow-up on any of the topics discussed as we are in the process of planning our programming for the fall. Thanks to all that joined us!

Post Contributed by Christine Nolan, Director of Communities, MassTLC

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Mathworks Has Some Demolition Fun as It Clears the Way for Natick Expansion

In the latest in a string of tech firm expansions (Microsoft's plans to add new space in Kendall Square, Harvest Automation's opening a new headquarters in Billerica, IBM's plans to unveil its Littleton campus, among others), The MathWorks celebrated its growing Massachusetts footprint with a dramatic demolition of one of its original Natick buildings.

Using a ballista, an ancient catapult-like weapon, state Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki joined Mathworks founder and president Jack Little and other MathWorks employees in firing ice blocks off the older building and then watched as a MathWorks employee manned a construction claw and started tearing down the structure.

It was a creative way to celebrate another new beginning for The MathWorks, which is planning to build a new 166,000 square-foot office building and adjoining parking garage at the site, adding about 600 employees to a facility that already employs 1500.

Little invited the company's entire local workforce to the ceremony, which featured Bialecki, State Senator Sen. Karen Spilka, and State Representative David Linsksy. Little praised the state and local officials who helped pave the way for the Route 9 expansion. MathWorks also served free ice cream to the employees and other event participants, on what turned out to be a warm, sunny afternoon, despite predictions of showers.

Bialecki lauded the company's continued growth and its commitment to Massachusetts. Little praised his employees for pushing forward despite the economic downturn, saying their dedication during hard times had made the expansion possible. The company has continued to prosper through the recession.

Since its founding in 1984, The MathWorks has become the leading global provider of software for technical computing and Model-Based Design. The MathWorks currently employs more than 2,000 people worldwide.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We're Proudly Celebrating June: Innovation Month in New England

We at MassTLC are proud to be part of the second annual Innovation Month, a celebration of all the cool events and activities happening right here in New England -- the birthplace of revolutionary thinking in America.

We believe -- as so many others do here in the Greater Boston area -- that our region is creating a new burst of innovative spirit and activity in a wide variety of technologies, from mobile applications to cloud computing, from robotics to social media; from big data analytics to a whole host of technologies not yet known. Building on our great university base and our longstanding commitment to entrepreneurial spirit, this area is ready to ride new waves of innovation, creating dramatic new growth opportunities for the Commonwealth.

That's why we at MassTLC have recently issued a bold Challenge -- let's think big and act big and commit to creating 100,000 new jobs over the next decade. To do that, everyone in the tech ecosystem will have to attack on multiple fronts: we must continue to prime the start-up pump; we must foster even greater collaboration with our universities and our companies; we need to continue to attract global companies; and we need to make sure our mid-sized companies have the support they need to become global "grand slams" -- companies that compete on the world stage with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and other tech giants.

At MassTLC, we're building our programs and initiatives around all these themes. And for June, we have two programs aimed squarely at the Innovation Month theme: our Social Media Summit on June 3, 2010 and our Tech Tuesday Networking Event on June 29, 2010 (Tech Tuesday is free of charge and its format is "free" as well -- a free-flowing networking event -- usually held on the first Tuesday of every other month -- that brings together more than 300 geeks, tech savvy professionals, DIY-ers, and other industry luminaries.) View all our events.

And don't forget our most important innovation event -- our annual Innovation unConference -- to be held this year on October 14, 2010 (we do innovation year-round). For those who have never been, this innovation-focused event is conducted in an innovative manner: Instead of the planned sessions and passive audiences of typical conferences, MassTLC's Innovation 2010 is an unConference where the agenda is formed organically by all attendees the day of the event. No podiums. No stages. Just small interactive sessions where everyone gets to know each other by gathering around areas of common interest. A central theme of Innovation 2010 is to give entrepreneurs multiple opportunities to meet people who can help them build their companies. View the Innovation 2009 website and stay tuned for details on Innovation 2010.

Innovation Month is a celebration of our collective entrepreneurial spirit -- our commitment to continuing Massachusetts' great tradition of revolutionary thinking. For more on Innovation Month 2010, visit http://neinnovation.com/. Or, read my post on Innovation Month 2009.