SXSW 2017 is coming to a close here in Austin. Our minds are swimming, our feet are tired and our pockets are full of business cards, but once again the festival delivered a fascinating look at how technology and innovation are shaping our world. Here are five key takeaways:
1. The current political climate was felt around every corner.
From the “tech under Trump” track to the slate of keynote speakers that included Joe Biden, Cecile Richards and Corey Booker, attendees were very focused on what lies next in this new political climate.
2. New technologies are here, but what do we do with them?
VR and AR were seemingly on every corner and in every activation, but much of the conversation about them was still focused on the real-world applications. So while VR and AR will play a role in our future, many are still figuring out what that will be exactly. Similarly, autonomous vehicles was a major theme, but most of the conversations focused on how we will get there and what that will change about our society.
3. AI is the hot new kid on the block.
From Watson to cars and even healthcare, AI is poised to be the next great problem solver and job disruptor. For the second year in a row, SXSW even hosted a live conversation with a robot on stage.
4. The traditional world order of start-up founders is being challenged.
Gone are the days when being a Harvard or Stanford dropout are a pre-requisite to lead a successful start-up. This year we saw an increase of start-ups run by people looking for their “second career” after leaving the corporate world. SXSW Interactive keynote Adam Graham even spoke to this stating “dropping out of college is not required to have brilliant ideas, and in fact, some of the greatest successes in the history of creativity come out of ideas that didn’t make a whole lot of sense when they were first pitched.”
5. Authenticity is key in building trust.
Among the marketing panels and topics, many were trying to make sense of how to rebuild or refocus in a climate where trust is increasingly scarce and for many, the answer is to be authentic. Don’t stray from your core beliefs (and if you don’t have them, define them) and you will build trust among your audience.