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SXSW 2014: Hottest Topics to Include Wearables, Data, and More Wearables

  |  March 6, 2014   |  Comments

ClickZ asks a number of industry leaders what they expect the biggest topics of conversation at this year's South By Southwest will be. Unsurprisingly, wearables is a popular theme.

With only one day to go until one of the biggest industry events of the year, ClickZ is super excited to be attending the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival 2014. From Saturday, March 8, through to Tuesday, March 11, we’ll be bringing you original coverage of the largest trends that are coming out of the event, as well as exclusive interviews with some of the biggest marketing and technology influencers.

But before we go anywhere, we wanted to give you a sneak peek into some of the biggest topics of conversation at this year’s SXSW Interactive – or the biggest anticipated topics of conversation, should we say. In order to do that, ClickZ asked a few industry leaders their thoughts on what they expect. Here’s what they said:

ClickZ: What do you expect the biggest topics of conversation to be this year at SXSW and what are you most looking forward to?


kaylagreenheadshotKayla Green, director of Digital and Enterprise Strategy, Saatchi & Saatchi LA

I think we’re going to see a lot of discussion around the topic of privacy this year. It's a subject that’s top of mind right now and as we hear from companies who are leading in new digital capabilities, there will be questions around the privacy implications of these new technologies and tools. Brands and agencies need to be cognizant that this is something audiences want to know more about, and we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we rallied around new technologies and innovations without asking the tough questions around privacy and data management.

The conversion of technology and marketing lands at SXSW, so it’s natural that the new apps, services, social media platforms, and tools that make our lives better always seem to shine in Austin. However, the conversation this year may not be around the newest shiny object, but rather around questions of privacy - how secure is user information, where is the data stored, who owns the data, and how does the audience maintain privacy with these new products and services?

What I’m most looking forward to? My job is to understand human behavior and motivations surrounding digital technologies and platforms. Those of us in strategic planning fields look forward to SXSW as a meeting ground for experimentation with leading edge technologies and social platforms. Once a year, we find ourselves in Austin with thousands of early adopters who jump head first into the new launches of products, apps, and services while at the Interactive festival. These early adopters spend their time in Austin talking about what’s on their phone, what they’re wearing, who they’ve connected with, and how. All of this new technology leaves people like me searching for the how and the why of this new media usage so that we can generate a level of foresight and understanding of how we can apply these new technologies to our business.

heidibrowningHeidi Browning, senior vice president, Strategic Solutions, Pandora

This year at SXSW we’ll continue to see the exciting trend of highly personalized technology, products, and media that can learn and adapt to the user. Product and service monopolies are nearly extinct: consumers want their own special, customized connections with apps, websites, and brands. From a brand perspective, as consumers become more connected through smartphones, wearable technology, cars, and homes, the clear winners will be the brands that understand what they really want and deliver it flawlessly through a simple, personalized user experience. Looking at the connected car, for example, it has to deliver a wholly different experience that augments the driving experience rather than hindering it and keeps things intuitive for the connected consumer. So, while the latest and greatest products change from year to year at SXSW, fundamentally, the rules of success are the same.

nathaniel-perez-hi-resNathaniel Perez, global head, Social, SapientNitro

SXSW delivers another year of action-packed knowledge. I believe the top themes will be:

• The intersection of creativity and innovation will be at the heart of the conference this year. Pushing the boundaries of technology-enabled creativity has and will keep being a key conversation. Exploring how innovation and creativity has and can fuel new ways to build products, businesses, and cultures is a fascinating aspect of what's going on these days.

• Wearables and the Internet of things will obviously be the shiny object this year. As last year brought Google Glass in its early forms to the SXSW public, this year will kick wearables into the stratosphere, helping audiences grasp the power of wearable experiences, data and the quantified self, and much more. Beyond wearables, Internet-powered devices and appliances, and the seamless role they can play in our lives, will also be a popular topic.

• DIY and hacker culture: This is a "doer's" revolution. From quirky to crowdfunding to 3-D printing. I believe SXSW will impact the power that technology is having on the very human ability to make things. I'm really eager to connect with new vendors, start-ups, and emerging tech companies. Also always happy to be inspired by the power of the SXSW crowds and knowledge.

fasano5082-8x10ePeter Fasano, senior vice president, Social, Ogilvy

My annual "spring break for nerds" trip to Austin for SXSW has a heart that beats in the center of the Driskill Hotel bar. We gather here for late-night conversations yielding the most value and percolate for the months following. I anticipate conversations this year will bubble up into three focus areas - Big Data, the Internet of things, and collaborative economies.

The event proves the market supply and demand opportunities that drive collaborative economies - I booked my stay at Airbnb and will navigate the city with via UberX and a shared bike. The Internet of things driving home, car, and health tech are exploding as consumers embrace quantifying and optimizing their daily lives. Together, these two trends are driving the insights and innovation for the start-up and corporate worlds through bid data. Meet me for a drink after 1 a.m. to carry on the conversation.



Melanie White

Melanie White is the Editor of ClickZ, where she has worked since July 2012. White has been with Incisive Media (ClickZ's parent company) since 2009 where she was Deputy Editor/ US Editor for one of the financial risk management titles, International Custody and Fund Administration (later Custody Risk).

In addition, White worked on FX Week where she was a Senior Reporter. She has also worked and contributed to a number of other titles, including The Accountant, International Accounting Bulletin, the New York Post, Independent Magazine (UK), as well as the broadcast title Sunday Live with Adam Boulton at Sky News.

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