Despite the drone-free skies at SXSW 2015, there is still plenty flying around Austin this weekend. While this isn’t a statistically valid analysis of what’s trending at SXSW 2015, here’s my rundown of the trends, activations and platforms that made the most noise in Austin this year. It’s an exciting time to work at the intersection of marketing, technology and communications.
Big Data – well, “big data” is here to stay in our marketing vocabulary. By far, the most common buzzword I have heard at SXSW so far has been “big data”. The longest lines for sessions have been for topics revolving around big data. Every vendor seems to now be in the big data business, and it’s clear everyone wants a piece of the “making sense out of data” pie. By and large, I think this is a great thing. For too long, we’ve made business decisions with limited and dated research – or hunches. The better we get at using accurate (and if possible, real-time data), the better informed and productive these decisions will be. The challenge for most organizations will be selling the value of big data internally, as it’s costly to fund the tools and people required to be successful.
Proximity – while there have been a few failed attempts at leveraging proximity-based mobile applications at past SXSW events (Highlight or Banjo come to mind), practical applications of proximity-based messaging technology – most-notably through the use of iBeacons – have utility. SXSW is using iBeacons at the conference this year to alert users of its app to interesting things going on at the conference. When you carry your mobile device around with you, you’re essentially telling people where you are. Privacy concerns aside, this is the future of location-based marketing – pushing content to users in the moment is one step closer to realizing those scenes out of Minority Report. I’m most-excited about seeing the adaptation of iBeacons for driving proximity-based engagement in retail and event applications.
Internet of Things – EVERYTHING is going to be connected to the Internet in the next couple of years. That’s the general theme of the dozens of Internet of Things sessions at SXSW. There are too many products out there in the Internet of Things – or IoT – sector to mention in this post. Just know that every for every product you own that plugs into the wall (or recharges), somebody is working on one that connects to the Internet. Honestly, there are a lot of products that you don’t currently need that will connect to the Internet too – like a device you can put your eggs in that will tell you if they’re still fresh. Don’t put all your IoT eggs in one basket, I guess?
There are surely some follow-up trends of note to be on the lookout for when it comes to the IoT. First, there are some considerable privacy and security issues that will emerge (opportunities for smart entrepreneurs to capitalize on). When everything is connected to the Internet, it brings with it the same risks and vulnerabilities of any other device on your network. Than there is the issue of overwhelming your home network with too many devices competing for a connection – there are limits here that will need to be addressed. Finally, it makes sense that we’ll see common aggregators emerge that enable you to manage all of your Internet things from a single interface. My guess is Google will emerge as a leader here, as it’s in line with indexing all of the world’s information – and yeah, back to that big data thing… there’s a lot of data behind all of our things being connected. Anybody making a product today needs to consider how that product will connect to the Internet – that’s a mega-trend if I’ve ever seen one.
Getting From Point A to B – personal transportation is an interesting trend I’ve noticed at SXSW. From the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, to tap-and-go Smart Cars you can see all over Austin, to similar applications for hailing taxis and pedicabs, it’s clear that smartphones with their GPS and mobile payments capabilities have made it easier than ever to find a ride than ever. Look for developments in ride-sharing to be a trend in coming months, as Uber recently announced its plans to enable you to team up with other users to get where you’re going.
Read more about the brand activations and platforms making a splash at SXSW 2015. [Read more…]