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Tech Toys & Coopetition (or why Webster is wrong)

by: Jessica Colombo

This is part 2 of unpacking my experience of SXSW.  Read Part 1, in case you missed it!

Coopetition: spell check says that its not a word, but I say Nay. Webster is behind the times.

Coopetition is the new direction of business.  There is no more cut throat. Convergence and collaboration is happening all around us from sharing articles through our social networks to businesses coming together- collaborating to help each other win.  One simple example of this is Apple’s partnership with Nike in their Nike+ software and hardware, a tool that has helped runners everywhere track their workouts.

This notion of collaboration between people and companies alike was in full force at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.  It was exemplified through panel discussions surrounding one topic with all of the panelists coming from different (competing) companies.  As well as through companies solely created to provide service to other start-ups.  You can see the magic in the social sphere- through Twitter and Facebook, examples of groups coming together to help a single person or promote an event or greater cause (ie. The tragic crisis in Japan).

Pause for a second and take a breath, how many things did you recommend, promote or share today?

Most of us can’t even count. One panel discussion I attended was about the Future of Search told from the perspectives of representatives from Google, Bing and Moodfish. A new Google product, Hotpot, is based on localized search through recommendations from your network.  Say you were in a new city and wanted to go out for a burger, Hotpot and your friends would direct you to the best burger in town.  Or maybe you’re in the mood for something specific- Moodfish.com may be for you.  This website aggregates an entire itinerary based on your mood.  Moodfish believes that search content plus intent of the user will result in a more effective search. The experts have an inkling that search is going social. Both tools are awesome, but the point is that these companies could speak their minds to the same audience with passion, respect and civility.

The very first panel I attended- while I was full swing in SXSW newbie mode – was on the topic of cooperation between Agencies and Software companies.  To see success, they need each other, but sometimes have trouble aligning priorities.  The discussion highlighted some tips that both ends could bring back to their workplaces to improve well-being and cohesion. This converging world of digital and social has opened an entirely new sector for marketing/advertising/pr folks. There are no more traditional rules in marketing- except to throw your inhibitions to the wind and be creative and agile as possible.  Part of this challenge is being well-versed in technology and being able to interact with consumers through various online channels.  So, how important is it for marketers to be techies and how blurry is that line? As social media progresses and we figure out how to measure influence and reactions, I believe it will be increasingly important to be knowledgeable, but there is a difference between being tech-saavy and a tech developer.

So, Jess- where are the new tech toys that you promised? I know, I know, I’ve been holding out on you.  Thanks for your patience!

Huzzah! Here is the guts and glory that came out of SXSW this year.  These are some of my favorite tools that I used at the festival and was exposed to by friends or the actual developers that created them!  Enjoy!

Beluga: A group texting tool that is a solution to mass text. Group texting is a big trend that surfaced this year.  The MSUSXSW team used it to find each other through the masses at the festival.

Hashable: For all of those in the Twitterverse, this may be for you. The app is provides an integrative way to keep track of your contacts, organized by Twitter usernames.

Airbnb: Are you an explorer on an adventure? Or just need a place to crash for the night? Either way, this tool is a must for travelers! It connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.

Beansprout: Need a business partner or developer? Beansprout can hook you up, call it the dating website for new ventures.  A similar tool that comes from our great state of Michigan is Cofound.org– check them out too!

Zaarly: Hold the phone. Zaarly will be (I’m declaring it) the next huge thing.  If you’ve ever said “I’d pay ___ for ___” you will love this application.  Think eBay meets Craigslist- but way sexier and way less creepy.  Look out for it, its coming to a city near you! Actually- its coming to East Lansing! Follow @zaarly_MSU for updates!

Twillio: This is a text-messaging service that provides tools to other start-ups. Twilio powers Remind101, the company founded by our good friend, Brett Kopf.

Simplegeo: Another company built for other start-ups to utilize! Simplegeo powers location based aspects of applications.

Twonky: A must-have for an integrated digital home. It perfects experience through convenience and control.  They also won the award for favorite free T-shirt by the MSUSXSW crew!

There are some super cool trends that are coming in the tech, interaction, mobile and social space.  I had the pleasure of having Becky Johns as a roommate in Austin.  She is a fantastic Spartan and a recognized influencer in the PR/media space. Becky presented a great panel discussion on online influence in a talk titled: Status Update…or Upgrade?  Also, check out her take on SXSW tech trends here.

So there you have it! I hope my small gems of insight can give you a taste of what SXSW is all about- at least enough to make you consider attending in 2012!

Jessica Colombo is senior Spartan Marketer graduating in May from MSU. She is currently seeking a position in a company’s world domination department. In addition to working for MSUAA Career Services where she gets to do fun stuff like write for this blog, she also enjoys rocking out to old school Michael Jackson in her cube and eating coffee flavored Haagen dazs ice cream. Say hi @jcolombo

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