SXSW is an intensive 10 day festival with a multitude of industries coming together to inspire each other and learn. Enterprises including, tech, film, music, education, and culture host many insightful lectures and events on current topics and the latest trends.
Crowd has attended for the past few years as representatives of the Department of International Trade (DIT) who help showcase UK businesses on a global scale. The DIT lead a series of events and roundtable discussions at the UK House venue, which Crowd partook in. This yearly festival was previously held virtually due to the pandemic so it was great to experience the intimate feel and real-life buzz of having the event in person again in Austin, Texas. There was so much to learn and experience so we have collated a few of our favourite key takeaways.
NFT’s will continue to grow
SXSW had a lot of information about Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) and how they are on the rise with applications for many different industries. We now see that platforms like Instagram are starting to introduce NFT’s and many artists are now turning to them as a way to gain higher profit from their work – as well as a deeper connection and engagement with their fanbase. There is still some work to do to change the perception that many people have about NFT’s (they’ve been called ‘overpriced jpegs’), but we believe that NFT’s will soon become more mainstream and a common part of everyday life.
Hologram selfies and the unavoidable Metaverse
SXSW is at the cutting edge of technology and augmented reality but this year there was even more buzz about the future of the virtual world. We walked into many rooms with people wearing virtual reality headsets experiencing a range of different realities and games. There was also a big emphasis on the Metaverse coming our way, whether society felt ready or not. We need to try and use it for good, for people to connect and experience things they may not be able to within the real world.
We saw some of the best applications of this technology for healthcare, working more closely with professional teams and education. This year’s winner of the SXSW Extended Reality and Immersive Technology competition was Matsuko who promises to allow users to “experience true holographic presence using just a smartphone.” This is an exciting game-changer for the technology world. Who knows what it may mean if the average person can create holograms of themselves and share in the digital world. We also expect to see a shift in how people value, and increasingly invest in, their digital avatars over their physical selves.
The exclusive industry of space tourism
Demand for space tourism is on the rise and within the next few years, we should see the first commercial space travel beginning. However, this industry is extremely exclusive at the moment. SXSW hosted a range of startups and new technologies that are starting to make this sci-fi dream happen – along with a hefty price tag. For $50K you can take a 7-8 hour long journey up into the stratosphere and see Earth from above. More affordable approaches or the next best thing are impressive simulations with excellent videography but minus the zero gravity and carbon emissions!
Brand authenticity and truth-telling
This year’s event had a lot of focus and discussion around the importance of brands communicating and operating with clear authenticity and a meaningful purpose, which especially appeals to the Gen Z audience. This audience will seek out businesses that align with their own values, and hold the buying power.
Therefore, how a brand delivers itself to market and its values around sustainability, equality and diversity are key in achieving that audience cut through. Brands that are not considering their environmental and societal impact, or not staying true to their messaging, will be called out very quickly.
Re-shuffling of the 9 to 5 working lifestyle
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a global mindset shift about the way we work and support employees. Many white collared roles experienced new flexibility that remote working offers and businesses have had to listen to their employee’s experiences from this.
It is now not about just tracking employees by hours spent but tracking the work achieved. Supporting employee development is absolutely critical. There has been much debate as to whether it is better to let the employees customise their working style to their individual needs and how they know they work best, while still ensuring people work effectively and cohesively as teams.
Crowd are always at the forefront of industry thinking and can use these insights to help promote your product or brand internationally. Get in touch today to discuss your project.