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HITS Fall Keynote to Tackle Big Data’s Role in Entertainment

The co-authors of a new book that looks at the importance of big data for entertainment companies dealing with an increasingly competitive landscape will both be on hand Oct. 18 in Los Angeles at the HITS Fall: Digipalooza Conference, the largest fall gathering of the Hollywood IT community and its technology partners.

Michael Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College, and Rahul Telang, assistant professor of information systems at the college — authors of “Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment” — will offer up their insights into how entertainment disruptors like Netflix and Amazon have used consumer data and analytics to upend an industry long controlled by major studios and TV networks.

Smith’s keynote presentation will serve as a call to arms for Hollywood’s established players when it comes to data analytics and competing in today’s digital, consumer-first world. Meanwhile, Telang will moderate a panel — “Data Analytics: Converting Elusive Science to Practical Business Applications” — that will take a deep dive into how enterprises can better organize within to take advantage of data analytics.

In a Sept. 19 Q&A with “Fortune” magazine, Smith talked at length about his book, and used Netflix and its marketing for “House of Cards” as a perfect example of what traditional entertainment players need to do with data.

“The thing that Netflix had that nobody else in the industry had was they didn’t just know that there were a bunch of [fans of the ‘House of Cards‘’ lead actor, Kevin Spacey] in the abstract, they knew exactly who those Kevin Spacey fans were and they could use the platform to target them directly,” Smith told the magazine. “So, Netflix went out and created nine separate trailers for ‘House of Cards’ and targeted them directly to those users. So, I think part of the story is the power of detailed customer data to help you do a better job of marketing the content.”

Smith and Telang’s book challenges Hollywood’s establishment to change the mindset they’ve long operated under by mining consumer information that only recently has become available, enabling smarter decisions regarding what viewers want, how they’ll watch it, and what they’ll pay for it. Detailed examples of smarter, data-driven decisions are covered in the book, with case studies on everyone from author J.K. Rowling to comedian Louis C.K. The book also takes a frank look at how companies like ABC and Hulu worked together to reduce piracy, and how shutting down sites like had serious financial benefits for the studios.

Released in August, “Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment” is already garnering praise from Hollywood’s elite: “’Streaming, Sharing, Stealing’ examines the rise of data-driven marketing and the ability of artists to control content creation and distribution, which is completely disrupting entertainment industry norms. A must-read for any content creator,” David Bossert, producer and creative director of The Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.

Taking place at Loews Hollywood Hotel, the HITS Fall: Digipalooza Conference is produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) and the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) with sponsorship by Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, GrayMeta, Okta, Microsoft Azure, FilmTrack and Zaszou IT Consulting.

To register or for more information, click here.

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Award-Winning Pixar Story Expert to Keynote HITS Fall: Digipalooza Conference

LOS ANGELES — Acclaimed Pixar Animation Studios storyteller, Matthew Luhn, has been named a keynote speaker at the annual fall conference of the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), October 18, 2016 in Hollywood.  With the theme, “Synthesizing Creativity and Business Success in Hollywood,” the talk will focus on how big data is being used to create great stories and characters at Pixar and other leading companies.

The keynote will be featured at HITS Fall: Digipalooza, the largest fall conference for the Hollywood IT community and its technology partners, taking place at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.  Over 600 studio executives and solutions providers attended the last HITS event, HITS: Spring, in Universal City, Los Angeles last May.

“Story telling that leverages insights from big data is changing everything from content development to corporate culture itself,” says Luhn, who will further explain how IT is now empowering and inspiring creatives, publishers, advertisers and innovators to forge stronger, more meaningful connections with their fans and consumers.

Matthew Luhn is a storyteller and story supervisor with over 20 years’ experience creating stories and characters at Pixar Animation, The Simpsons, ILM and other studios. His story credits include Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Monsters Inc., Monsters University, Finding Nemo, UP, Cars, Ratatouille and other films currently in development.  Clients who learned from him how information technology can transform the way they tell their own corporate stories include Adidas, Facebook, BBC, Microsoft, Sony, Warner Brothers, Apple, Disney and Google.

With an overall theme “Digipalooza:  Where IT and Hollywood Rock,” this year’s HITS: Fall event will offer a full day of expert presentations about new cloud workflows, cybersecurity, data & analytics, metadata and asset management, consumer mobility – all in service of sales, marketing, distribution, finance and production. Content Advisors for the conference. include senior executives from Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Walt Disney Company, Fox Filmed Entertainment, NBC/Universal, Lionsgate, Warner Brothers Entertainment and Paramount Pictures.

HITS is a professional community of IT executives representing the Hollywood studios and supporting information technology providers. Organized under the aegis of the Media and Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), the Society embraces the entire entertainment industry consisting of film studios, TV networks, home entertainment divisions, theme parks, video game publishers and music labels.  HITS works year-round to facilitate communication and discussions between entertainment and IT professionals in Los Angeles, New York and London.

For more information about the HITS Fall: Digipalooza conference visit:

Find out how your company can participate by contacting Garrett Randall, Sr. Director Membership Services, p: (310) 882-9204, e: [email protected]


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HITS Fall Presents: Digipalooza - Where IT Rocks!

HITS Fall is where IT and Hollywood rock, where techstars jam, and where the C-suite takes center stage.  Only IT could pack the house for a full day of presentations about new cloud workflows, cybersecurity, data & analytics, metadata and asset management, consumer mobility – all in service of sales, marketing, distribution, finance and production.

It’s only IT but we like it!  Our line-up of mind-blowing presenters and panelists, will showcase…

Cloud Control
Transitioning a studio’s IT operation to the cloud can be expensive and risky; and it’s not an ‘all or nothing’ process. Managing a hybrid IT environment that makes use of multiple cloud and on-premises vendors, comes with its own special requirements.  This session will deliver everything you need to know to get more out of your virtualized and cloud environments.

Zen and the Art of Data Analytics
A data analytics strategy is only as good as the information that fuels it. What does every IT exec need to know about developing an effective data analytics strategy? How are companies breaking down divisional silos to justify the value of their investments in data science? What software tools are providing effective management of today’s virtual deluge of data?

Cybersecurity Who’s Who
Demand for cybersecurity employees far exceeds the available qualified professionals, and demand is expected to grow by over 50% over the next few years.  With talent supply unable to keep up with corporate demand, how can a studio hire the cybersecurity personnel they’ll need to protect their businesses?  Are there outsourcing and automation solutions to consider?  What are the true costs of a cybersecurity initiative?

Smart Production
The successful, century-old art of making movies is being further enhanced by digital technologies that embolden creativity while they connect with the enterprise for unprecedented financial visibility, global collaboration and real-time marketing analytics.

Hollywood Goes B2C
Digital media is transforming Hollywood’s B2B business model to a B2C relationship, offering new business opportunities for studios and networks. What can content holders learn from their retail partners about how to build a title’s fan-base, provide a premium experience, and serve an increasingly mobile customer? How are predictive analytics being effectively used to maximize customer feedback, peer-to-peer sharing, recommendation engines and intent to purchase.

Chief Transformation Officer
The role of today’s CIO is a delicate balancing act between innovation and operations. How are IT executives redefining their job function by (1) zeroing in on consumer behavior, (2) building operational excellence, (3) creating a powerful services backbone, and (4) ensuring ongoing organizational flexibility?  How does today’s Chief Transformation Officer start the process by transforming him/herself?

The Small World of Globalization
How are global businesses working seamlessly across borders, in an environment of tightening release windows, to deliver content to the storefronts and platforms in over 100 markets worldwide? Rights management, language and ratings localization, and marketing asset availability will all be addressed.

The Enterprise Goes Mobile
The widespread availability of smartphones and bandwidth has increased the potential for enterprise mobility adoption. How are studio IT departments implementing projects that extend mobility to more employees, while controlling costs with mobile apps and collaborative work tools?

The New Content Supply Chain
Content creation to consumer consumption are the true end-to-end points in today’s digital entertainment supply chain. Technology executives will discuss how they are harnessing new business workflows to obtain new operating efficiencies across all business units.  What technology stacks are being bolted onto the new digital supply chain to provide increased visibility and business value at all points from production to delivery?

Get ready to rock in the center of Hollywood in October.  HITS Digipalooza is coming to town.


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