This was my first time attending SXSW and most likely won’t be my last. I spent a total of five days drinking the kool aid and here’s what I learned:
The explosion of influencers
One of the hottest topics was influencers. As more brands and VCs look to invest in this space, they are running into a major issue: authenticity. How can businesses ensure the experience is authentic? But also, how can they evaluate their ROI?
Businesses need to understand that influencers are known for who they are (they are made famous on social channels first and are self-built star) versus celebrities who are known for their work (and often made famous by more traditional channels such as TV, radio, etc.). Put inherent trust in the influencers your business hires. They should be real people with real experiences interacting with your products and your company. Just as brands need to distinguish themselves, so do influencers. As this space grows, consumers will be even more sensitive to highly produced content. Make sure the end results match your brand and your influencer’s brand. – This was from The Moral Code of Pay-to-Play Marketing panel.
‘A robot without a tool is like a car without tires’
You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a talk, exhibition or demonstration around robots or AI at SXSW.
While robots will continue to be a tool for increased productivity, they will be made to collaborate with humans. Cobots are robots that will be careful of human safety, can work in unstructured environments and have a user interface to interact naturally with their human co-workers. – This was from the Democratizing the Industrial Robot talk with YASKAWA Innovation talk.
We saw the future of storytelling unraveled and pieced back together as we watched a film made completely by AI tools. It’s as dramatic as it sounds. From conception of characters, location, clothing, makeup to the casting of the actor and editing, AI tools such as IBM Watson, EEG, emotion recognition, MS Rinna chatbot etc. were used to create a ‘watchable’ film. – This was from Can a Film Made by a Machine Move You? panel.
Content is king, queen and all the other pieces on the board.
We are starting to see digital platforms such as Youtube, Facebook etc. incubate themselves. They are buying both content and creators. They are also making creative decisions from design to production. We predict that the logical next step would be to bring all elements of content creation and distribution in-house that is if they have not already begin to do so.
Where will content live in the future? Content creators are looking beyond legacy platforms like Facebook and Twitter. From interactive video storytelling, audio and voice recognition, VR/ AR / MR, live video and messaging (chatbots), content creators are looking to build monetization into “themselves” from day one. – This was from the Pop Tech: Marrying LA and SF panel.
From a smart but disgruntled attendee: The machine reduces me to data. Interestingly, this complaint set off a lively discussion.
We are in a lopsided moment where we have data but we are bad at doing something with it all. Except for advertisers. Advertisers, sneakily enough, are using data to adapt to consumers’ needs and wants. Although there is a lack of transparency around their usage of data, it’s scarily nothing new.
There is also the idea of thinking of your data-self as an extension and not a representation of you. As we continue to feed more data and more of ourselves into machines such as Google Home or Alexa, we’d have to accept the fact that we are a known entity. How can design tackle this issue? Is design still the reductiveness of noise and not possibilities? – This was from Innovation by Design: What’s Next? panel.
Tl;dr robots are here to stay. So are influencers.