Publicis Kaplan Thaler attended SXSW Interactive for 5 days of immersion into the latest thinking and technology across the digital and interactive space, with impressive keynote speakers such as Nate Silver, Rachel Maddow, Al Gore and Elon Musk. The conference left us inspired – although the work we’re doing today is smart and innovative, the landscape is changing rapidly and it’s an exciting challenge to stay ahead of the curve. Although we could talk ad nauseam about the thought-provoking sessions, at the end of the day, we came home with 6 noteworthy themes.
Hardware as King: At a conference long-held up as a software and service launching ground, hardware innovations took more center stage. Instead of Google Glasses, 3D printing and motion-controlled technology from LEAP Motion took center stage, indicating that the future of technology application is all about how it comes to life in more tangible ways.
The Arrival of CPGs: Big traditional brands such as Oreo, Doritos and GLAD didn’t just attend, they used the event as an opportunity to demonstrate innovation, create buzz, and launch new products. Their presence shows that every company is a digital company, and that brands can be leaders in this space.
The Collaborative Economy – aka the Sharing Economy. Crowd-sourcing and new ways of sharing are changing the way we discover and consume goods, disrupting industries, helping innovators spread their ideas, and creating value. Companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Etsy, and SideCar are revolutionizing their industries and are putting the power back in the hands of the consumer.
The Changing Pendulum of Social: People are becoming over-saturated by social platforms and apps. Moving forward, clear value exchanges will be the determining factor for adoption, use and engagement. And as for brands, change comes in the form of senior leadership. With some brands putting the power of community management in the hands of senior leadership, it flips the perception of social media on its head – in a good way.
Location: From Social to Utility: The “small human actions” that fueled Google’s growth was the clicking of links, and Facebook was “likes.” Now, platforms like FourSquare are mining the aggregate value of small human actions to draw insights about the community, location, consumerism and sophisticated recommendations.
Search: From Links to Answers: Statistics + algorithms + natural language = finding the signals in the noise. The next wave of search is here, moving from giving us content that we can pull answers from, to actually giving us smart answers.