Our best takeaways from SXSWi 2017

We asked our ATX team for some of their highlights from their SXSWi 2017 and here were their takeaways. Were you in town? Tell us about your takeaways on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

On women in tech

Our Sales Rep Frankie was really impressed with The Female Quotient’s Girls’ Lounge. Their mission is to create equality in the workplace because, after all, diversity is good for ROI. Their goals are to close the wage gap, increase the visibility of women within corporations, develop programs that support caring cultures and create new tools to eliminate unconscious bias and eliminate barriers to achieving equality. All great things to get more women in the tech industry and in STEM in general.

Frankie was especially impressed with the Saturday 5:30pm panel called Workplace Wishes – Reimagining Today’s Culture. It included perspectives from a variety of roles, ranging from business executives, to researchers and journalists:

  • Meredith Kopit Levien, Chief Revenue Officer of The New York Times
  • Robin Hauser, Director of Unleashed Productions, filmmaker of CODE:Debugging the Gender Gap
  • Judith Williams, Diversity Chief at Dropbox
  • Lesley Slanton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer at Hewlett Packard
  • Howard Ross, Co-founder of Cook-Ross, unconscious bias expert

She captured this quick clip from the session:

You can find more on their YouTube channel.

On marketing and branding

Our Marketing Manager Rebecca was able to attend two sessions around marketing and branding this year. Here are her takeaways, in her own words:

“The first was an Ad Tech session which featured people from The Washington Post and Vox Media. The first part of the session was aimed towards content publishers and discussed the importance of making ads on your own site a good experience for the user, specifically focusing on the speed of ads loading. The second part was directed more towards marketers, and they discussed how they drive users down the funnel to subscription. There was a lot of discussion on measuring the value of users and how to treat users differently based on the platforms they came on (they mentioned that email is an often overlooked platform), getting users to engage with your content and how that content differs across platforms. Also strategies for what happens when the user gets to your site, so remarketing tactics such as cross-brand promotion and pushing people to different platforms.

The second session I attended was called The15,000-year-old Marketing Strategy: Why it Works and featured entertainment star Donny Osmond, his son who is in marketing and lives in Austin, a neuromarketer (a neuroscientist + marketer), and a marketing executive from Microsoft. Much different from my previous session, this was all about telling your brand’s story in an emotional way that people can remember. The neuromarketer informed us of the chemical reactions that go off in people’s brains when they are engaged in a story; something that doesn’t happen when a person is viewing a powerpoint or advertisement. Their advice is to discover the underlying emotions and needs of customers and craft a brand story around that in order to make powerful, emotional connections with them. Donny shared a lot of corny stories about how he engages with his fans and how that’s kept him in the entertainment business for 54 years. It was interesting to hear the viewpoint from the Microsoft guy who said that we’re almost too data driven, but advised that social is a good platform to have unique interactions on because those interactions are amplified by your community.

So all in all, I learned some interesting things from those panels, especially in terms of nurturing users and telling brand stories.”

On the future of marketing

Finally, our Sales Rep Jace loved the VIP Brand Summit Cookout ‘s panel with great speakers on influencer marketing, snapchat, and VR, including Carlos Gill and Robert Scoble. He also enjoyed IBM and National Geographic’s pop-ups. on the Brand Summit panel, Scoble spoke about the current state of AR and VR and what the next 5 years will look like. In Jace’s words about all of it:

“IBM was a combination of VR and AI with their Watson technology. Love how they are teaching people what not to do with giving up personal information with AI technology. I also really enjoyed the Speech Activated Virtual Reality.

National Geographic was one of the craziest VR experiences I have seen. With their technology everything looked so real, and there were animals and objects coming towards you on the screen, essentially popping out of the picture. It was amazing!

And I loved how Robert Scoble was talking about what Israel is already doing today around VR and AR, and then he painted a picture of where we’ll be with the technology in four years. He really told the story of past, present, and future of VR and that really let things sink in for me of where we are going with this technology. Makes me realize that what is impossible today might not be tomorrow, and both personally and professionally that’s such a cool concept. Boundaries being removed every second of every day, Really cool, and really scary all at once.

What a time to be alive!”

What was the best thing you saw at SXSWi 2017?