After four days exploring topics, trends and margaritas at South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, I’m starting to pull apart the trends which rose to the surface.
From my perspective, there was no total trend like there has been in previous years, like group texing apps or geolocation apps which seemed to dominate. This year, there was much talk about wearable technology, but not a total understanding of how we might use them.
Wandering through the exhibition hall, it seemed three clear messages were meant to be heard.
1. The world is small, but we’re still fighting for territory.
There was an obvious focus on international business. Entire countries set up impressive booths to recruit the best talent, entice business relocation and share the benefits of working with them. Canada, Argentina, and Korea had particularly impressive showings. With virtual working and collaboration tools making time zones and language barriers hardly obstacles at all, the global village is all about helping each other produce the best. Pretty cool.
2. Technology is built upon other technology.
Obvious, right? Well, yes, but… the best products offered now consider the daily technology customers use in their daily lives. Consider how many products offered must rely completely on the devices we use. Mophie, a brand I’m particularly crazy about (and using RIGHT NOW to power my wifi hotspot to write this blog in a crowded airport), creates power backups for our mobile phones and devices. The cases they develop fit on to existing phones like iPhones or Galaxy models, providing backup battery when needed. They don’t make phones or provide cell service, but they make the way we use those things work better. Knowing their customers is what helps them exceed customer expectations.
3. There will still be flashes in the pan.
After a few times of attending SXSW (this year was my fifth) it’s obvious we humans get really excited about really silly things. One year it was new social networks that were clones of the already-successful models, another it was geolocation apps which didn’t truly provide any value. This year, there were a few devices which wanted to edge out Google Glass as the wearable technology we could get excited about. But here’s the thing – Google is ahead of the game, and we still haven’t totally figured out if they are worth it. So mimicking that without added value seems to be another miss.
SXSW Interactive is full of smart people, interesting ideas and fun opportunities to connect. The customer experience changes daily because your customers change daily. We expect more, don’t always think rationally and always act on emotion. If there’s one event that gets those concepts, it’s this one.
Were you there? What were your impressions?