NMI Alum Abigail Norman is the Consumer Program Manager at AMD. What this actually means is that she is responsible for developing or overseeing marketing programs on a worldwide scale that target AMD’s mainstream consumer customer base. AMD is an innovative technology company dedicated to igniting the next generation of computing and graphics solutions at work, home and play. But she definitely doesn’t do this alone – there are teams in regions all across the globe that work to develop localized programs or implement programs that she develops. If it’s a headquarters-run program, she develop it and works with the teams to make sure they have what they need to localize, translate and run it. If it’s a local program the teams develop, she makes sure they are aligned to the overall company business objectives.
“The New Media Institute was absolutely critical in preparing me for this – I am dealing with all kinds of media and communication all the time. Sometimes it’s social campaigns with a viral element, sometimes it’s delivering training to Retail Sales Associates via SMS in parts of the world that aren’t as wired as we are. Sometimes it’s straightforward online ads. The New Media Institute trained me to think about how all of these pieces interact with each other, and how the use varies by demographic or region.”
For Abigail, the biggest challenge in new media is figuring out how to make global programs scalable even though the adoption rate of various technologies is so different around the world.
“Something as basic as an e-newsletter is easy to implement in North America, but when I get to India my target audience isn’t online and gets print newsletters. It’s very challenging to figure out how to reach people halfway around the world who aren’t as plugged in as we are here!”
For her capstone project, Abigail’s group developed a system for friends to check in downtown and let their other friends know where they were and what they were doing. It was web- and kiosk-based.
“What I learned was that even if you have a great idea, if you have the wrong platform, it’s not going to go anywhere. This exists today in the form of Foursquare. It just never occurred to us that one day we would be able to do this from our phones and wouldn’t need a kiosk or laptop! I graduated in 2003, and back then it was a HUGE deal that the NMI was working with local partners to put in a Wi-Fi zone around downtown. CNN and NPR came to Athens to do news segments on it. Now the Internet is in our pockets all the time.”
Abigail says the real thing to realize about new media is that it’s not about learning the specific details about the technology as it is today. It’s about learning how to adapt and change with it, and determining what really is the next big thing and what is just a fad. When she took classes in the NMI, she learned to code HTML in Tables.
“We talked briefly about CSS as this “thing that was coming”. Knowing how to code in tables doesn’t help me now, but understanding the challenges in developing a website that works in Safari and IE and Firefox and on an iPad and iPhone and Android and various Blackberries does. The definition of “new media” is always changing, and means different things to different people.”