Every year, SXSW Interactive brings together a multitude of tech executives, thought leaders, influencers and digital marketers in Austin, Texas to network and discuss a variety of topics ranging from design and programming to wellness and the workplace. This year’s festival was packed with exciting brand activations and insights into emerging technology, marketing, startups and culture. Here are just a few moments that showed us why SXSW is still relevant and informative:

Real, Emerging Tech Trends May Not Seem Important Initially

Many of the technology trends which will have the greatest impact on our lives and businesses can be easily missed early on. They are seemingly insignificant when they begin, and often become important at a point when it’s already too late to catch up. In order escape this cycle and see the future of one thing, you must simultaneously see the future of many things. To do this, it’s important to distinguish between a real trend and something trendy. Real trends share four common characteristics:

  1. They are driven by basic human needs
  2. They are timely, but persist over long periods of time
  3. They evolve as they emerge; they are not stoic
  4. They have dependencies in multiple points of convergence

Futurist Amy Webb, professor at NYU Stern School of Business and founder of the Future Today Institute, shared these insights and more during her “2018 Emerging Tech Trends Report” session.

For a more detailed overview of 2018 trends, I highly recommend you download the 11th annual Tech Trends Report, released live at SXSW, which provides a data-driven analysis for the emerging tech trends that should be on your radar this year.

Making Human Connections is Good Business

Even though we live in a world powered and made easier by technology, the value of human connection cannot be overstated or replaced. This point was emphasized by Bozoma Saint John, Uber’s first ever Chief Brand Officer. The best storytelling can be found in people’s personal experiences and there’s no better time than the present to explore experiences in diversity. During Bozoma’s time at Uber, she has found there’s value in embracing empathy, and celebrating the people who work at Uber has helped the brand begin to move past it’s difficult past.

Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer, Uber

 

The importance of human-centered work was also echoed by WeWork Cofounder and Chief Culture Officer, Miguel McKelvey, who launched a business model by creating environments where people feel supported and uplifted. He and his team at WeWork are crafting culture through the design of space and architecture. “We can’t move past the technology of the human soul,” said Miguel. He’s using this insight to figure out new ways to connect people and move them towards their purpose within WeWork’s coworking spaces and beyond.

Miguel McKelvey, Cofounder and Chief Culture Officer, WeWork

 

The Future is Female

From Melinda Gates to Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of dating-site, Bumble, to CNN Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, powerful women were front and center at this year’s SXSW Interactive. Many discussed the power of the “Me Too” movement and the undercurrent of change bubbling below the surface of corporate America.

Audrey Gelman, CEO and Co-Founder of The Wing, a NYC-based co-working and community space for women shared her thoughts on why it’s important for women to have dedicated spaces where they can come together to feel empowered and safe to network and do the work important to them.  

Audrey Gelman, CEO and Co-Founder, The Wing

Melinda Gates spoke about the value of putting investor money towards women and minority founders, as well as having equal representation on corporate boards. Women across all sessions emphasized how necessary it is to have men as allies in the workplace and beyond. Many were hopeful for the future and energized by the movements around them.

Our team was motivated by so many of the interesting conversations SXSW 2018 had to offer and we’re excited to bring what we’ve learned to our teams and clients throughout the rest of the year.