South by Southwest day 1: Abuzz with new technology

Ogilvy Australia's Jason Davey reports from day one of the massive US conference

Bruce Mau
Bruce Mau

It’s that time of year again, when 80,000 people from all over the world gather in Austin, Texas for SXSW. A conference like no other in the world, SXSW explores the convergence of technology, film, music, science and art. And this convergence is producing innovations driven by the collaboration between designers, data scientists, film makers, creatives, developers, scientists, musicians and more. Even whole cities are collaborating toward an innovative new future.

With over 300 sessions across 24 tracks of programming over 7+ days, SXSW offers something for everyone. Here’s a flavour of just some of the topics covered:

A – Artificial Intelligence and Agile marketing

B – Blockchain beyond Bitcoin

C – Choice architecture

D – Data-driven storytelling

E – Envisioning holograms

F – Facebook IQ

G – Globalization and Government

H – Hacking yourself

I – Intelligent cities

J – Journalism of the future

K – K$upreme (a rap crew from Pasadena)

L – Lean Data

M – Machine learning

N – Nanotechnology

O – Organic hydroponics and the future of food

P – Public spaces and technology

Q – Quantum computing

R – Regulating AI and Robots

S – SEO in the age of conversation

T – Tech and Humanity; Embedding empathy in experience

U – Understanding the human side of automation

V – Voice and gesture

W – What’s next after Advertising?

X – Xenia Grigat (beatbox entertainer)

Y – Youth power

Z – Zen in the workplace

There’s a swag full of keynote speakers including Spike Lee (film director), Michael Dell (founder of Dell computers), Bozoma Saint John (chief brand officer for Uber), Guy Kawasaki (author/evangelist), Ray Kurzweil (one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, futurists, and AI visionaries) and even Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to make an appearance.

It’s the end of Day 1 and already my brain has been tickled by the excitement of the future including space exploration, design thinking at scale, localvism and recent developments in blockchain.

As always, there are some major themes that seem to pervade the conference. This year, artificial intelligence and its impact (both good and bad) on all industries is being much discussed, as well as exploring just how far reaching blockchain (not bitcoin) will be in changing the way the world transacts in business and beyond. This technology is as going to have as big an impact on the world as the internet did (in my opinion).

It’s evident here how quickly technology is accelerating change, and how connected everyone’s lives are becoming. From consumer devices, to autonomous vehicles, connected cities and even your digital footprint after death leaving you with a tax bill.

What’s important for marketers is working out which technologies and trends are going to impact their industry, and quickly getting started in understanding, implementing and experimenting. No-one can afford to wait and see what happens; those folks will be left behind in the wake of new competition. Fast-moving is not just a competitive advantage, it’s now a survival skill.


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