Today Gregg and I were at the Twelve Hotel in Atlantic Station for AMA Atlanta‘s Signature Luncheon: Marketing Atlanta as a Global Hub for Mobile Technology. The topic dealt with Atlanta, and how our city has the potential to be a global leader in mobility and mobile technology. Atlanta is currently ranked one of the most mobile cities for small business, #2 Most Wired City in the USA, and also #2 Most Socially Networked City in America. Bari Love of the Metro Atlanta Chamber moderated the loaded panel which included:
- Michael Zeto, Director, Corporate Development, AT&T Mobility
- Tony Cooper, Senior Director, Strategic Communications/Technology Evangelist, Technology Association of Georgia
- Jen Martin Hall, VP of Communications, Sharecare Inc.
- Chris Huff, VP Mobile & Consumer App Development, The Weather Company
Only snagged this one picture – Michael Zeto speaking with Chris, Jen, and Tony in the chairs patiently waiting to drop some knowledge on us. The event description wasn’t messing around where it said, “In this session, you will hear from industry leaders,” because I quickly picked up on the expertise of each of them — impressively experienced thought leaders, making changes and developing campaigns to bring our city to the top.
Tony began by declaring 3 D’s of Atlanta as: Disruption, Diversity, and Dreamers. I imagine most ATLiens would agree that Atlanta certainly encompasses all three of these characteristics. Tony went on to discuss recruiting students to work and live in our city, stating that a sense of community > salary. Creating this sense of community is invaluable and can be seen through developments like David Cummings‘ Atlanta Tech Village. Their slogan is “Creating Engineered Serendipity” and they have a community lunch every Friday… I can say first hand that this community is thriving.
Michael Zeto of AT&T stated that AT&T chose Atlanta over areas like Boston and Austin for their new Foundry and Drive Studio. This decision from Michael’s team has worldwide implications and is already making waves for Atlanta. We need more investment in the city, where there are already TONS of companies on both the Fortune 500 and 5000, and the INC. 5000 lists.
Chris Huff from The Weather Channel already knows that mobile is here. TWC has long been on the trend, landing them the #2 most downloaded iPad app and #7 most downloaded iPhone app of all time. Very impressive. Chris spoke that they plan to maximize what they do with mobile, and innovate the entire way. “Weather Effects” is a program they’re working on to help marketers prepare their supply chain, depending on regional trends in weather. For example, when do people buy sunscreen in Georgia versus in New York? Also, they’ve developed a running app with Wahoo Fitness that will help you plan the best times weather-wise to go running that week. Pretty neat stuff.
Jen then spoke a little on her experience living in Atlanta versus in Silicon Valley. For some background, Jen helped develop the first CNN app during her time there, and worked on the iOS, iPad, and iCloud projects while she was at Apple. She stated that although people would be upset to hear it, the Atlanta media community doesn’t support the technological community at all. Every news station in Silicon Valley had a tech reporter, if even just to showoff the newest apps for California housewives. Tony jumped in and mentioned Atlanta Tech Edge and the Atlanta Business Chronicle as resources, however, they are often inclined to avoid stories dealing with tech/math/science simply because it’s intimidating. “If marketers are spending money for advertising, it had better be the right story.” Although all this may not be true, there is an overarching cultural phenomenon here in the South that can and will be shifted.
Tony went on to discuss Invest Georgia and the bill that was recently passed. The city simply needs more investment so companies don’t move out, and students are more inclined to work and live here. Another great initiative he’s working on is getting AP Coding courses in Georgia High Schools. I would so totally have taken that if it was offered at my High School! Tony then spoke on immigration reform, a topic I didn’t expect we would touch, but it immediately made sense when he explained. Students are coming to schools like Georgia Tech from out of the country, getting their degrees, and basically being told to “get out.” We’ve got to fix the organization of our immigration process so we can harness the intelligence and excitement we give these students when they attend our schools.
The panel ended and we went to audience questions. One interesting question prompted the panelists to speak on the unique/signature events held in Atlanta. Austin has their SXSW, but what’s going on in Atlanta that will put the spotlight on our city for a week? Michael discussed the AT&T Mobility Live event that is strategically held every year around the end of September. The ultimate goal is to hold global product launches at this type of event because, as Michael stated, “CES type shows are getting weaker and weaker.” This perfectly aligns to getting Atlanta on the map, as product launches are often in the September/October time period.
It’s an exciting time to be in Atlanta, and we look forward to what’s in store!