POV: SXSW 2014 Preview

MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW - The upcoming South-by-South West Interactive (SXSW) conference is known for highlighting the latest and greatest in technological and digital innovation. Thirty thousand attendees will congregate in Austin, Texas from March 7–11 for presentations, panels, keynote speakers and networking events, as well as a Gaming Expo, Trade Show and Startup Accelerator. In its 21st year, SXSW has been the launching pad for numerous successful brands: Twitter (2007), Foursquare (2009), Foodspotting and Lena Dunham/Tiny Furniture (2010) and Groupme (2011).


SXSW 2014 promises to further accelerate the emerging trends from the recent CES and MWC conferences, e.g., wearable tech, 3D printing, iTV & 4k TVs, connected cars, and the Internet of Things. However, SXSW tends to juxtapose content, particularly entertainment with this technology, arguably best illustrating of any conference how the two combine to alter the digital landscape. Some anticipated trends include:

Digital Storytelling: The intersection of content, technology, and society will be explored and will result in a larger conversation around the evolution of digital storytelling. Both hardware and software are important components of this discussion, but SXSW will likely focus on the software and intellectual property that complements hardware innovations introduced at CES. Content and its distribution will be highlighted as brands continue to move towards entertaining their audiences as a means of differentiating themselves within the marketplace. Services that capture our daily lives and turn them into something digestible and shareable will proliferate.

Democratization of Audiences: The power of the crowd will be a central focus this year, kicking off with the addition of SXSports to the SXSW lineup. The importance of fandom will be present throughout all verticals – Interactive, Film & Music – as audiences continue to fragment and brands and marketers continue to vie for attention from consumers who continuously have less of it.

Data: Deep Learning & Privacy: The conversation around big data will continue this year, but is likely to shift towards deep learning – artificial intelligence that mimics human brain structure and behaviors in order to solve problems – and the ongoing struggle over privacy and data security. Expect the dialog to center around government oversight, responsible data collection, commercial data use, and the tech community’s role within each.

With over 1,300 events packed into 5 days, SXSW promises to overwhelm. Will there be a clear start-up winner? Will SXSW continue to concentrate on business and marketing rather than innovations from Silicon Valley? Go to  and follow the Mindshare SXSW team during the conference as they work to identify what matters most in the world of science, speed, and culture.