SXSW: the story of two days in apnea in innovation

Brand Content, Etude de cas, Social Media, Technique, User Experience

9 Apr, 2019

Communication, marketing, retail, artificial intelligence are among the hottest themes of the major Texas conference: this is our report. Held in the American city of Austin from March 8 to 13, SXSW is one of the world’s leading conferences on digital innovation.

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Here we are again with you for the second episode of the SXSW. Two very interesting days in apnea.

We start with Mike Pell, head of the design department at Microsoft Garage. He went on stage disguised as Bob Dylan and started with the first notes of Baba O Riley from the Who, presenting his latest book, “The Age of Smart Information”: How AI (artificial intelligence) and XR (extended reality) definitely transform the way we communicate.

“DATA, INFORMATION, ACTION: the ideal funnel for Pell.”

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DATA, developed with artificial intelligence, produces INFORMATION that interconnects people with machines and digital environments, for a final elaboration (ACTION) that focuses on EQ, emotional intelligence, i.e. the ability to “read” the signals emitted by others and react appropriately. A continuous and infinite story.

Alarming? Exciting? But how do artificial intelligence developers expect to keep their hands on the power of their algorithms?

We are behind the scenes with Wally Brill, head of Google’s Personality team, and Anna Pickard, head of communication at Slack. The two converge on one point (and we are relieved): AI must learn to understand and elevate our humanity, balancing the technological component with respect for our own personalities.

What about consumer expectations?

Kerry LiĆ¹ tells us about it in “The Future of Supermarkets and Retail”. The average consumer expects the full personalization of the omnichannel experience, with an infinite number of combinations of offers and services, impossible for the retailer to manage.

And this is where artificial intelligence comes in, perfect for solving problems that cannot be solved by man. Physical” points of sale will not cease to exist, but they will increasingly have to use AI to quickly meet their customers’ needs, such as at the Shanghai Crossroads (which we have just visited) where AI and facial recognition offer a personalized, easy and fun experience.

A leap into sport with a (very) special case of merging digital and real experiences: the Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL). It is an American football tournament in which teams of real players participate, entirely controlled by fans via the Internet, with games played in areas closer to a television studio than to a stadium, thus allowing maximum proximity, even virtual, between fans and athletes.

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Twitch, Amazon’s live streaming gaming platform, has acquired the live broadcast rights to the tournament, including advanced interactive features.

We continue with Nick Westergaard, an internationally renowned brand strategist, who explains the 7 dynamic rules for building and developing a brand’s positioning in a hyper-connected, digital and versatile world: meaning, structure, history, content, community, clarity and experience. Nick is voluble, brilliant and punchy. And he replied almost in real time to an e-mail from us.

This is also the SXSW.

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We change location and we find ourselves in China, with Bessie Lee, whose CV is so impressive that we don’t want to give you the details (but you just have to go online and consult it to understand).

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The scenario is remarkable: in China, 20% of global data is analyzed at any given time, 30% in the next 10 years, with 48% of the investments in artificial intelligence in the global global start-up market. Bessie shows us how artificial intelligence helps Shenzhen’s public transport drivers (700 buses involved) to stay alert, by monitoring their driving behaviour, with possible audio alarm signals. The project is producing positive results and will be implemented in all major cities across the country. Yes, but what about privacy?

Another example is the use of AI in Hot Pot restaurants, where robots greet and serve customers with different levels of fun and engaging interaction. A new cultural revolution on a technological basis. What would Mao say?

In parallel, we are following the General Assembly workshop on the most modern methodologies for mapping consumer “pathways”. Over the past 15 years, the number of contact points with which a consumer interacts before completing a purchase has tripled, from an average of 2 to 6, and while brands think they know their customers, only 37% of consumers say they feel understood by the brands.

A final step in the presentation by Steve Bartlett, CEO (just 25 years old) of Social Chain Group (a $100 million group with 20 companies). 4 million hours of videos uploaded to You Tube, 67 million posts on Instagram, 650 million tweets. Welcome to a day on social media. An enlightening meeting to understand the vital role of AI in the future of marketing.

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6pm: It’s time for relaxation and networking, in the many events organized by the Festival’s sponsors and partners, with augmented reality facilities, interconnected basketball courts, robots that caress your hand, in the midst of dozens and dozens of high-level live music concerts.

It’s the SXSW.

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