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 devic