Mec@Sxswi 2015 Key Takeaways

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Mec@Sxswi 2015 Key Takeaways


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THE 2015 SXSW INTERACTIVE FESTIVAL FEATURED OVER 800 SESSIONS, EXHIBITS, COMPETITIONS, MEET UPS AND NETWORKING EVENTS WITH SOME OF THE HOTTEST ESTABLISHED AND UP-AND-COMING COMPANIES IN THE WORLD. The 22nd Annual South By Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi) is a 5-day immersive cultural experience focused on emerging technology and forward thinking -- fueled by content, creativity and inspiration. Growing in popularity year over year, the SXSW Film, Interactive and Music events attracted 51,000 people in total to Austin, the cultural capital of Texas.

This years Interactive festival experienced an increase in both international participation, as well as space dedicated to the start-up community. Due to the tremendous amount of innovation within the health and medical industries, 2015 also saw the launch of the SX Health and MedTech Expo.

Serving as an incubator, SXSWi 2015 continued its legacy of bringing together inspiring and influential people, brands and technology platforms to discuss and ideate on future transformation. After all, where else can you find a Robot Petting Zoo?



Overall, one theme stood outInnovation is innovation; you cannot separate different strains of it based on the content, creativity or industry it is applied to or drives. While SXSW still offers different experiences via its respective Interactive, Film and Music festivals, it would be counterintuitive to everything SXSW stands for to put up walls between these festivals. Instead, SXSW recognizes and appreciates the synergies, creating a forum that combines the beliefs, passion and excitement among the diverse communities that attend.This was most visible at this years Convergence Programming, where topics organically overlapped between SXSWs Music, Film and Interactive content. As the traditional boundaries between these festivals continues to collapse, new opportunities for collaboration and intertwined conversations are surfacing. It was also clear that there is no silver bullet when it comes to solving for innovation. Gone are the days where start-up technologies would come to Austin hoping to be the breakthrough hit of the conference as it happened for Twitter in 2007 and FourSquare in 2009. Keynotes from thought leaders ranging from Lyft co-founder & CEO Logan Green and Astro Teller of Google X underscored this shift. SXSWis power isnt in solving for innovation; its about finding ways to move forward in your thinking, your perspective, your product so that you can return home enlightened and inspired, ready to iterate and find success.INNOVATION CANNOT BE CONTAINED


Virtual reality (VR) was a major focus of SXSWi this year, with more sessions than ever dedicated to the technology and the opportunities it invites. Many of the leading VR and augmented reality developers and companies were in attendance, with major players like Oculus Rift taking the stage to share prototypes, brand-focused efforts and thought-starters, serving as inspiration for brands to leverage VR as a tool to unlock the future of immersive storytelling. Other companies, like Jaunt, a tech company building the hardware and software to make truly immersive cinematic VR possible, debuted and demod new content and opportunities, giving attendees first-hand experiences.


WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOUVirtual reality is creating excitement and intrigue, comparable to how the Internet first sparked marketers and brands interests in the 1990s. VR is clearly not just for gaming, and signals the birth of a new medium for brands and creative marketers to reach and engage audiences.

There is still a ways to go before consumers can adopt VR in their everyday lives. As Oculus Rifts VP of Product Nate Mitchell noted when explaining why the consumer version of its VR headgear is delayed, the roadmap has changed, something not uncommon in the new, rapidly-evolving and highly competitive technology space. However, as more devices enter the marketplace, now is the time to understand the content opportunities and find ways to test and learn what VR can offer your brand.


The North Face gave attendees at the Google Fiber Space a sneak peek of the immersive experience its rolling out in select stores: virtual reality moviemaking techniques on Google Cardboard to take viewers one step closer to thrill-seeking destinations.


Whether it was highlighting the technology that can facilitate it, the platforms that enrich it, the data that can inspire it, or the brands innovating around it, much of this years SXSWi conversation was about consumer experience, and how marketers, brands and content creators can improve upon it. Weve seen brands attempt first to market executions and strategies for the PR value rather than the consumer benefit; however, these tricks often dont work. As Linda Boff, Executive Director, Global Brand Marketing for GE noted, when it comes to content creation, audiences know how you should spend dollars to create things for them to engage with, and they expect that content to contribute to meaningful, valuable experiences. Aiming to create transformational experiences, WPP's Team Detroit led programming designed around using technology and elevated data as keys to creating richer user experiences. Panelists and speakers explored how data trails the digital breadcrumbs consumers leave behind across the Internet offer insight into consumer behavior, and that, when used right, allow for more enhanced experiences and better results.



WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOUTo be truly consumer first, marketers need to not only know how consumers engage with new and emerging media and technologies, but understand the factors that impact how they will communicate with the people and brands they care about in the future.

This includes learning about why new data points are emerging, how technology is driving new behavior and getting first-hand experience by engaging with the tools and platforms that can help marketers create authentic and genuinely creative experiences that surprise and delight consumers.


GEs BBQ Research Center married science and culture with labs and workshops devoted to illustrating the role of data in influencing the optimal performance and, ultimate taste, of Austins most popular food -BBQ. The activation not only allowed GE to tell its story beyond jet engines and wind turbines, but also gave back to the SXSW community.


Proving how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, this years SXSWi showcased countless ways of bringing people together, both physically and mentally, through social media and smart technologies like beacons. To drive this connectivity, the official SXSW GO app was updated to includethe largest deployment of iBeacons at an event and a new social networking feature to provide a more contextualized SXSW experience. FireChat, the popular off-the-grid messaging app, offered live interactive news via its FireChat SXSW Edition, highlighting the very best of what to do right now. And for those participating virtually, SXSW partnered with Roku to stream the conference on the new streaming network SXSW On allowing access across the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Ireland.



WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOUAs marketers, we are constantly looking for new, creative ways to cut through the clutter and reach our consumers. To do so, we seek out the newest devices, technologies, platforms, and partners. But how often do we step back from our everyday business challenges to look at our industry as a whole?

Unlike traditional tradeshows, conferences like SXSWi offer a unique opportunity to meet and mingle with people beyond our professional borders. Savvy marketers consistently challenge themselves to seek out on and offline resources and experiences that offer new inspiration and perspective, whether it is conferences, books, newspapers, or Twitter feeds. We challenge you to do the same -- find inspiration in the world around you and consider how you can apply it to your everyday role and business challenges!


.Meerkat, the new, free mobile app that simplifies livestreaming via a Twitter integration, was the it app of SXSW this year. Despite Twitter cutting off Meerkats automatic access to its social graph on Friday, plenty of early adopters were Meerkating their panels, dinners, parties and even strolls along Congress Ave.


Health and wellness was one of SXSWis hottest topics, thanks to the launch of the SX Health and MedTech Expo, an exhibit space that featured 60+ companies showcasing the future of healthcare technology. The Expo provided a chance to get hands on with the healthcare tech changing the world, and learn from some of the brightest minds driving health forward. Milestone events included Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics' CEO, who spoke about what human life means in todays age of radical innovation, and what artificial intelligence and robotics can offer us in the future (hint: it may include the capability of transferring human consciousness to machines). Meanwhile, hospitals like Cincinnati Childrens Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital joined in the start-up mentality, participating in the Impact Pediatric Health Startup Pitch Competition, emceed by Mark Cuban.


SX Health and MedTech Expo


WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOUThis industry-wide evolution isnt just about wearables, smart devices and robots; its about being more connected to the issues that matter, and adopting a patient-first mentality to understand the real need states while attempting to solve for them.

Investing in health is good for business, offering brands opportunities to connect, understand and communicate with patients, families and caregivers in ways (and on devices) never before imagined. While healthcare is an industry primed for disruption, even if your brand doesn't fall within the health category, understanding why disruption is not only inevitable, but necessary, is crucial for survival. Marketers need to recognize how innovation and technology will (if it hasnt already) disrupt your industry in the future.


Equinox showcased The Pursuit: fitness classes with smart bikes capable of measuring 500,000 data points and allowing the instructor to monitor during class. Bringing fitness and data together for a better experience, while helping riders to stay focused and engaged.



The Internet, and social media, have opened the door to new possibilities, allowing for greater connections and interactivity than ever before. This transformation has given rise to powerful advocacy opportunities.Global women-and-workplace activist Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud spoke about her work to empower women in Saudi Arabia across issues like gender equality and health support through campaigns like #10KSA. Meanwhile, motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez premiered her inspiring documentary, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, and spoke about her Take the High Road cyber-bullying campaign. Whether debating how terrorist groups are using Twitter to further their agenda, or Yik Yak co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington sharing their efforts to curb cyber-bullying, much of this years conversation focused on understanding our individual social behaviors, and how to take responsibility for our actions with integrity. 13

WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOUMarketers already know the risky business of social media, where users can freely critique, troll and call out any brand at whim. Issues like fraud, trademark infringement and other potential problems can cause major headaches for brands, leading to legal action and plenty of lost time and revenue.

Understanding the legal ramifications of how your brand can be impacted by cyber bullies and trolls, as well as how others in your space have reacted and responded in a crisis can help marketers be confident in pursuing real-time marketing strategies and mitigate risks when it comes to how Internet users can sabotage or hijack your campaign or brand.


At the IPSOS Girls Lounge, a place for women in marketing, advertising and research to connect, Dove encouraged people to recognize that one positive tweet can ignite a positive trend. 14

MOPHIEThe external battery and battery-backup case company rescued SXSWers with dying smartphone batteries via St. Bernard rescue dogs. SXSWers could tweet @Mophie with a screenshot of their location and battery level, and Mophie sent St. Bernards with Mophie chargers to the tweeter in trouble. Other SXSW attendees could use the Glympse app to track the dogs whereabouts. Those who fell for a dog could even adopt one, thanks to Mophies partnership with the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation.

MORE OF OUR FAVORITE BRAND EXPERIENCESAT&T & ANIMAL PLANETAT&T & Animal Planet hosted a purrrrty to find America's Next Cat Star, where people could vote on contestants.

3MTo kick off its first global brand campaign in 25 years, 3M launched the 3M Life Lab, a booth built solely out of materials 3M has invested in over the years. 3M scientists were on-site, hosting demos and workshops, with the space also featuring live DJ performances, incorporating sound samples from the DJs heartbeat taken from 3Ms Bluetooth-enabled electronic stethoscope.

Entrepreneurship is more than building products - it's about lifting up communities and making a difference STEVE CASE, CHAIRMAN OF CASE FOUNDATIONS & REVOLUTION

I don't want to give some of these losers power. CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER & CURRENT TNT ANALYSIST on why he doesnt use TwitterPeople delight in sharing great content. Great content is a great compelling story you want to share. LINDA BOFF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GLOBAL BRAND MARKETING, GEThe heart of the event is really the up-and -coming people we haven't heard of yet, people we'll hear of in the next few years. HUGH COOLEY, SXSWi FESTIVAL DIRECTORIf youre the only one working on a problem, then you are working on the wrong problem. PHIL LIBIN, FOUNDER AND CEO OF EVERNOTEIf you want to succeed spectacularly you have to be willing to fail spectacularly. You have to just go. For me failure has always been it hasnt been a shameful experience, it was just oh that didnt work. BIZ STONE, CO-FOUNDER OF TWITTER & SUPER.MEAs the death of the middle class of film has ha...