Picking up the key themes for marketers from SXSW

Jason Davey highlights the game-changing trends of this year's South by Southwest event for marketers

The long plane ride home from Austin to Australia gives ample time to reflect and consolidate thoughts from SXSW.

Or so you’d think, but it’s not an easy job - the variety of topics, points of view, innovations, new technologies (and vapourware) make it hard to boil down into digestible chunks. That’s the beauty of SXSW - it’s a full-on intellectual assault as the interactive, music, film, technology and media industries come together to digest and discuss the future.

There are a few clear themes for marketers:

Customer experience is getting connected

As technology in wireless connectivity, sensors, and interfaces mature (and become smaller and more discreet), everything will be connected through the Internet of Things (IoT). This is presenting significant opportunities for marketers to anticipate a consumer need, and then meet it with a product solution in a frictionless purchase process.

This type of predictive experience is starting to truly deliver the ‘anywhere, anytime’ promise of the digital world. Or the world that is now digital, I should say.

One of the best (real) examples I saw of this was the Ocean Medallion wearable from Princess Cruises, which also operates Carnival Cruises in Australia. The Ocean Medallion is a payment system, location device, preference centre, access key and ordering system, all-in-one. Two years in the planning, it will revolutionise the experience ecosystem of a cruise ship.


The emphasis here for CMO's is not the technology itself, it’s the fact that the entire experience ecosystem has been redesigned. And it takes two years to hit the street. The opportunities that technology offers us are very exciting, but it takes some brass (and some coin) to drive the vision through the organisation across product, operations, sales, finance, IT and marketing.

This is challenging traditional organisational structures, as business vision in today’s integrated world needs integrated teams to collaborate and realise the vision. Chief marketing technologist, anyone?

Some would say it’s too hard and why bother? Well, if you reduce friction in the purchase process for a consumer, you increase consumption. 'Tap and Pay' has proven that for credit cards.

The humanisation of technology

Another clear trend is how much research and investment is going in to make technology become much more human. Conversational interfaces are providing more human-like interactions with technology. Chat bots are the first incarnation, but voice-driven technology is where it’s all heading.


Just think what that could do for your customer service operations. But still, there are challenges, as you can see here.


Technologies like Google Home or Amazon Echo (Alexa) present new sales channels for brands, but I think will also create a new wave of content-marketing strategies for savvy marketers. Imagine if your brand could talk with your consumers in real-time in their home and influence their decisions as they share their questions with you. Brands that can add value to the conversation with useful content will win in this race.

In addition to voice interactions, we are also seeing significant advancement in the ability for machines to ‘see’ the real-world and comprehend the meaning in order to provide instructions, provide alerts and conduct basic tasks. This is going to disrupt traditional labour markets such as professional drivers, machinery operators, customer service providers etc.


VR was one technology that bucks this trend. Instead of becoming more human, it transports the human into a virtual world. And this is why I’m predicting it won’t take off in its current form. Despite myriads of vendors touting VR solutions at SXSW, I still can’t get past the clunky experience with putting on the hardware. Still feels like a gimmick at the moment.

Artificial Intelligence is getting real

One company, Deep Knowledge Ventures, has appointed an AI software algorithm to work on its board of directors called "VITAL". This software has equal voting rights as any other director. How would you feel if your future boss was a software algorithm?

Fortunately for marketers, it’s a long way off before creative industries are under threat. Although I did see a music film clip that was completely scripted, cast and edited by Artificial Intelligence systems (the story sucked). But it looked convincing and ran at Cannes with 20 other films. No-one could pick which one was machine-made.

However, for all the benefits of artificial intelligence, there was a lot of discussion about some of the drawbacks. The ethical challenges in decision systems such as autonomous driving, the legal and equality issues presented by body/technology augmentation, and the opportunity for AI to become new “attack systems” for the unfriendly's. These issues are highlighting the need for governance models and industry bodies to create standards, however there are many challenges to overcome and consensus will not be easy to achieve.

However, there were also plenty of examples of AI being used for good, such as this system below for blind people.

These were the major themes for me at SXSW, however there were many other topics that often bubbled to the surface:

  • Blockchain, and its transformation of business models (especially if you are in the “middle man” business)
  • Smart Cities - improving the places where hope meets the street
  • Robots, lot of robots, but they are still very much learning from humans.

Until next year, SXSW over and out.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

3 marketing mistakes to overcome when courting prospective customers

Marketing that urges respondents to ‘buy now’ is a little like asking someone to marry you on your first date. At any time, only 3 per cent of the market is looking for what you’re selling, so the chances of your date randomly being ‘The One’ is pretty slim.

Sabri Suby

Founder, King Kong

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Red Agency YouGov Galaxy Report, February 2019 Predictors Study. https://redagency.com.au/re...

Vanessa Skye Mitchell

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

RIP holden

Max Polding

Marketing professor: For Holden, brand nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Read more

Where does the claim that 2 million Australians have tested come from ? Anecdotal information suggests that this is way off the mark.

David Andersen

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

Thank you for the info , being part of a digital marketing agency in kerala , this proved handy and get to know with upcoming trends. htt...

Dotz Web Technologies

Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

Read more

So who then is correct? The Research or The skilled Digital people.

Anene

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in