Blake Dowling: From UF football to rock — pivoting to ‘all things remote’

Shallow depth of field image (selective focus) with the Zoom video conference app/site - work from home during the covid-19 pandemic.
2020. Thank goodness the end is in sight.

Several times over the past couple of months, I’ve jumped in my car and rolled to the University of Florida for home games.

I’m glad to have seen this team in person — it is certainly one for the ages.

Who knows how far they will take it? Team titles? The SEC Championship is just two wins away.

Individual recognition? Mr. Kyle Trask is doing it better by the numbers than anyone in the country and about to break Florida and SEC records — if he says on task. The Trask at hand (if you will) is to win out and head to Atlanta.

These games have been like no other. If you have not attended a college game this year, it is hard to describe.

While there is the downside of no tailgating and things like that (it’s a bummer, but necessary), there’s a pretty strong upside, too.

When is the last time you did not wait in line for a Power Five football game? I strolled right in on Saturday with zero wait. Traffic? Nope. None of that either. Mask up and roll in.

The University, Gator Boosters and the Gator ticket office has done a fantastic job accommodating the fans. The first email I received on this season was about hard tickets — there aren’t any.

After downloading the UF app, I can easily text our ticket group all their tickets and parking passes with two clicks. We have a group of fraternity brothers from around the state with tickets together, so the old days of sending FedEx packages are over.

Plus, there is quick access: stats, schedule, social streams, and even some Instagram filters for those that might need such things. I spoke with Andrew Case, director of CRM and Analytics with the UF Athletic Association. He shared the following:

“The purpose of the UAA is to provide a championship experience with integrity. The Gators Mobile App plays a pivotal role in providing that experience to Gators fans on game day. The app is intended to be a one-stop-shop for everything a fan would need when attending a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. From driving directions to digital ticketing to contactless mobile concession orders, the app provides fans with unique opportunities to enhance their game-day experience.”

The University had the tech in place when needed; I was able to deploy it with ease.

Tech has really stepped it up this year — Zoom and Microsoft Teams being the obvious game-changers — but for UF fans, the Florida Gators Mobile App was equally game-changing.

What else has become the norm? Bite Squad, Spotify, Disney+ (yep, time for another free trial Mandalorian Season Two) supplying must-have food delivery, tunes and viewing options.

What else? This fall, I had a chance to teach a remote class at UF. Although I was really looking forward to heading on campus, the remote class was a great opportunity to chat with current students on networking, goal setting, chasing your dreams, etc.

The platform was Zoom, but what a solid effort to keep alumni involved in the education process and give the faculty a break from the rigors of remote learning.

Pandemic Patio: I continue to enhance the patio at home; next up, a human-size lava lamp. Mrs. Dowling is thrilled.

Moving on from UF — Teams and Zoom and other platforms don’t have the bells and whistles you might need for your online meetings (especially the larger ones). Not just meetings, but actual online conferences and events.

I was chatting with Chief Digital Officer (read: web guru) Michael Winn of Digital Opps in Tallahassee.

Winn explains:

“Brands seeking to build a rich, interactive online experience for their customers, clients or members were left feeling unsatisfied with Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

“Successful brands made the pivot to platforms like BigMarker, which allow for an embeddable video player or stand-alone virtual conference rooms for their multisession conferences or summit events.

“The real ROI from that pivot is realized through repurposing and monetizing that content by creating on-demand access for new business opportunities or supplemental revenue streams through marketing automation and brand channels within BigMarker.”

 Check them out here.

As a speaker (and guest), I have used the BigMarker platform; it is certainly outstanding, as you can see from the “Ace of Florida” event earlier in the year below.

So — no dissing Teams and Zoom; they filled a major void — there are other robust platforms needed.

Winn and I will partner for a “Lunch and Learn” online event in January.

All things remote will continue to be part of the educational system, business, entertainment, and the not-for-profit landscape, as we all know.

Our virtual Big Talent Showcase we launched in 2020 for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend kept the organization active over the summer and is on the calendar again for 2021.

On the rock ‘n roll front, Florida’s own Sister Hazel just held a drive-in tour of the south, including several Florida dates. The Tampa location was in the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium, and it was rock solid. Lead singer Ken Block quipped about Florida shows: “People in this area know how to tailgate.”

2020. The end is in sight (thank goodness).

However, on the other hand, all this pivoting (you must use this word a lot this year) has been pretty cool to watch, as you see creativity on a scale never before seen. The world has reinvented itself over and over — plus no lines at a UF football game. Inconceivable? That is the plus side.

On the other side, let’s get this vaccine done and stick a fork in this thing.

Prayers for all who have suffered or lost someone this year to the illness. May better times greet us in 2021.

Happy holidays and merry Christmas.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and host of the Biz & Tech podcast. He can be reached at [email protected].

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at www.aegisbiztech.com



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