SXSW 2024 key takeaways from our team 

By Alex Kuner
Inviqa SXSW 2024 Blog

Last month five of the Inviqa team headed off to Austin, Texas to be educated and enlightened at the multidisciplinary celebration of innovation that is SXSW. Now they are back in the UK they’ve pulled together their highlights from the show to present our SXSW 2024 key takeaways.

SXSW is an annual convergence festival of film, music, interactive media and technology that takes place annually in Austin, Texas. Since its inception in 1987, it has showcased exciting new talent and emerging industry trends.

The Inviqa team were among the thousands of creatives and industry thought leaders in attendance. Below they give an overview of five of the most interesting SXSW sessions in 2024.

The triple opportunity technology supercycle  

During her captivating keynote, Future Today’s CEO Amy Webb delved into the possibilities of an impending Technology Supercycle – a period of sustained technological growth, with past examples being the industrial revolution and the onset of the internet era.  

The next tech supercycle will be powered by the convergence of not just one, but three general purpose technologies: AI, biotechnology and a connected ecosystem of things. Each of these technologies, Webb states, connect in some way to every other technology that we use in our daily lives, meaning that “the wave of innovation that’s coming is so intense, so potent and so pervasive, it will literally reshape our human existence.”

Key takeaways:

  • As AI harnesses a growing amount of consumer data, the rising public concern regarding data privacy may warrant increased regulation and standards around data use.
  • Biotechnology could be used to address various global challenges, such as improving access to food via synthetic biology, and the opportunity to bridge the gap in health access through a more cost-effective production of pharmaceuticals.  
  • The convergence of digital and biological worlds allows for a whole new range of treatments: the most exciting of which being cells within our own bodies that could produce medication in response to external stimuli.

Building brands in the unhappiness era

During a talk between multiple brand leaders, from the CEO of health drinks brand Olipop to the COO of DailyPay, the idea of brands being an ally to customers’ overall happiness and wellbeing was touched upon. This is particularly relevant during a time where brands are selling products and services to people who are ‘unhappier than ever’.

Key takeaways:

  • We can create “successful behaviour changes through better experiences”.
  • Brands should focus on helping customers to “focus on long term happiness versus short term pleasure”.
  • For brands to be authentic you need to find the real human problem to address with products and experiences – “a deeper root structure helps when you are forced to pivot”.

Addressing unconscious bias with inclusive technology

One of the most interesting talks we attended was a discussion between two Senior VPs at Amazon Web Services and, highlighting the importance of building inclusivity into technology from the outset. With the rise of AI and its further integration into the retail sector, it is important to recognise unconscious biases in products and merchandise suggestions. Large Action Models (LAMs) can be trained to understand human intention, and so predict what to do next.

Key takeaway:

Building brand engagement through accessibility

A panel of execs from Vimeo and Rev, a speech-to-text transcription technology, sat down with a deaf disability advocate and a disability reporter to discuss how accessibility has been overlooked on the internet and the importance of improving the future media landscape.  

Key takeaways:

  • 75% of consumers have been found to prefer learning about products through video, and the vast majority tend to watch videos with the sound off, making it imperative to ensure accurate captioning.  
  • Captioning isn’t just about making video more accessible, it’s about promoting the best user experience, period.  

Organoleptic Retailing – engaging customers through all the senses

A talk by the CEO of Clementine’s Creamery, a rising ice cream brand in the US, was one of the more intriguing we attended. It focused on how brands should consider an ‘organoleptic’ approach to our products – in essence, using all five senses available to us.  

Key takeaways

  • By thinking organoleptically, brands can connect with their customers using more than just a single sense, fostering a deeper emotional connection.
  • Like ice cream, physical retail is a multi-sensory experience. Brands could consider more than just sight in their work – taking into account both haptics (touch) and sound, for example.

SXSW 2024 key takeaways if you plan to attend in 2025

SXSW sees hundreds of talks, activations and expos taking place across a huge area of downtown Austin. Being faced with such a vast swathe of quality information can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed and trying to spread yourself too thin.

This is why our biggest SXSW tip for those wanting to attend next year’s event would be to come prepared!  

Make sure that you read up on all the different talks on offer ahead of your arrival and create a rough plan of the ones you definitely don’t want to miss. This will save you a great deal of time and a lot of frantic running around.