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Clemenger Group ANZ @ SXSW Wrap Up

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Clemenger Group Australia and New Zealand's wrap up SXSW 2018 in Austin, Texas

Clemenger Group ANZ @ SXSW Wrap UpIn comparison to previous years, SXSW 2018 showed a lot less of the weird and out-there technology we'd come to expect, instead focusing a lot more of how existing technologies are already being applied and what the future uses of these technologies might look like.

Some underlying themes of the conference were brought up in different iterations across talks spanning very different topics, highlighting the fact that there are significant common threads rearing their heads in the midst of the technological shift we are only just beginning to enter and understand.
Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 1.06.28 pm.jpgMost major advancements were not driven by one brand, or one company - they were the result of collaboration between players in what seemed disparate industries. Yet, that difference is exactly what enabled the innovation to come to fruition, like the partnerships between Uber and Embraer that has led to the two companies developing a network of autonomous flying cars.

Collaboration was not only hailed as the new driver for innovation on a company level - Joseph Lubin from Ethereum, for example, sees the future of blockchain enabling the collaboration of people with the same interests in solving world problems, like cancer.

This seamlessly connects to another major theme of this year's tech conference - diversity and inclusion. Although not directly addressed, the #metoo movement was well reflected in a lot of talks. The major themes concentrated on bias and inclusion, with many panels crediting the diversity of their teams for the advancements in technologies they were able to achieve. We heard about the importance of designing with, not for, people, and importantly, the need to show inclusion in the products we create.

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 1.06.59 pm.jpgScreen Shot 2018-03-16 at 1.07.20 pm.jpgIn the same vein, almost every talk mentioned user centered design as the core of how businesses approach their work. No matter if the discussion was dealing with flying cars or connected cities, a design process from the user up was always highlighted as the key ingredient. This tied in with many talks driving home the importance for brands to create experiences for their customers rather than just selling products/services.

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 1.07.46 pm.jpgFrom a technology perspective, the main trend of SXSW this year was not surprising: AI and Machine Learning. In comparison to previous years, we saw a lot of brands and companies talk more about the practical application of these technologies and it quickly became apparent just how heavily AI will infiltrate everyday life in the near future - from smart cities, autonomous transportation, the IoT to search, retail and personalisation. We also listened to various discussions around how AI is impacting society and how the human race can use it to augment its own intelligence.

VR/AR found mention in a series of talks that concentrated on the application in areas outside of entertainment and gaming, with a lot of work being presented around VR applications that have been developed for the health sector, professional training and rehabilitation.

The newest kid on the block, and the technology that drew the largest crowds, was Blockchain. There was less talk about cryptocurrency and a lot of talk about the technology powering it. We heard from startups using this technology in healthcare, finance, logistics, entertainment and transportation as well as how decentralisation will influence communities around the world.

Although there was a general feeling that humankind  is moving too fast in its advancement of AI and its applications - a warning that we need to think about things a bit more to ensure the technology we develop will have a positive impact - overall the conference struck a positive vibe and left people with a fresh sense of optimism about the abundance of possibility and opportunity that lays ahead. 
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Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, Fri, 16 Mar 2018 06:26:51 GMT