What can you say about a conference that has been dubbed the “Davos of Digital,” with late night parties featuring long discussions about revolutionary, disruptive ideas for tomorrow and business plans and strategies for today? That was my SxSW conference in Austin, TX, and here are my top takeaways:
Create change, but create change that is massive and different suggests LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman. “If it takes $10 of revenue and replaces it with $1 of revenue” you could be on the right track of a major disrupter, offering Skype as the example who replaced the public copper-wired phone system with a convergence in mobile and voice over IP (VoIP).
Barry Diller, the Chairman and Senior Executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp noted that “Money chases things…” The best place to be is in the invention of things… because it’s discovering what is possible.
Finally, someone is paying attention to content. “[Content] curation is important,” according to Jeremiah Owyang, of the Altimeter Group. “I’ll tell you why: There’s too much freaken noise out there… but yet there’s an opportunity to filter the content.” The opportunity could mean easier ways for us to filter the noise, or companies like Google.
Wait until businesses understand that every user’s opinion and feedback is content that needs to be weighed and properly valued.
The Future of Location Based Stuff. LBS, or location based services is gaining in popularity but they need to monetize in a big way. Companies like FourSquare need to change the behavior of potential users to check into locations to get discounts while easily maintaining privacy levels. Get ready for a few game-changing ideas and the first huge success story later this year – I can say no more … yet.
Good bands make good breeding grounds for amazing ideas. Okay, this you knew since college. Some of the best bands from the music track of the conference play key interactive venues. But when you have the Foo Fighters at the MediaTemple closing party, that sparks innovative discussions well after the band packed up. Really.
Augmented Reality is coming. Perhaps over the next two years, expect your phones and computers, and especially tablets to be faster at adding visual layers of relevant data to whatever your camera is looking at. The most exciting areas are in education and shopping (in-store and eCommerce). Google is reinventing their AR offering in Google Goggles, so stay tuned for more. [Additional Info on AR].
My favorite conversations are clearly the ones you could only have at SxSW: Ellen McGirt from Fast Company, B. Bonin Bough from PepsiCo (see the Future of Business article) and Dave Carroll who was thrust into prominence when United Airlines broke his guitar. He created three videos with more than 10 million views to tell the story [Original Song link].
“The thing I’m most proud of now,” according to Carroll, a former volunteer firefighter, “is a project called Everyday Heroes” showing gratitude for first responders.
I met Dave, who also speaks on customer service branding, with David Vap, Chief Solutions Officer for customer experience software company RightNow Technologies. They shared a panel discussion at SxSW on customer service.
It wasn’t just these conversations, but meeting people who I’ve spoken with for years and never met; seeing start-ups form in conversations I was part of; learning who the innovators are and discussing the possibilities of what could be and what could happen and how to make it work (and pay) that made this an amazing conference. It wasn’t the panelists as much as it was the people in a place ready to do amazing things.
Perhaps Barry Diller and I have something in common: “What I like about this place (SxSW) is so many people are essentially following their curiosity.”