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This year VCCP once again attended SXSW in Austin looking to keep our finger on the pulse of the changing digital spaces and be inspired to the latest Interactive trends and technologies that will be shaping 2015!
We have pulled together the 6 Key trends we spotted at this years show and written up a bite size trend report on what you need to know!
Our team & Intro Every
March, Austin, Texas is overrun by some of the greatest minds and practitioners from the world of music, arts, technology, advertising and politics. They bash out and debate some of the greatest discussion and subject matter aﬀecting the world of communication. ! With every year SXSW (South by South West) gets bigger and more elaborate. Its origins as a music festival have been left behind in the wake of what has now become the greatest conference for creative free thinkers in the world. SXSW takes new tools, deposits them in rooms full of tech and creative people, who then dismantle and debate them to work out just how they might work and have an eﬀect within contemporary cultures and lifestyles. It has now become one of the biggest events in the modern marketer’s calendar as it is key to keeping updated and ahead of the curve and to know what to expect from the next 12 months. ! Some numbers on the festival - 22nd Interactive Festival - Runs for 5 days - 800 Sessions - 40K+ attendee - 75+ countries attended ! We have hand picked a number of the big trends from this year's show and broken down what that could mean for us. Will Harvey Innovation Lead James Storey Interactive Creative Director Rob Bartlett Head of O2 Account Ruth Barton MD - VCCP Kin
Trends one two three four
Re-deﬁning retail Wearables working together Rise of the machine Make it an experience five Live in the moment six Make it meaningful
The world of retail is
a space in which we have witnessed huge changes since the introduction of online shopping giants such as Amazon. To stay ahead of the pace of change, physical retail stores are having to adapt and embrace this growing demand for greater, more nuanced experiences from consumers. ! In one of the panels, 'Defining the next generation retail experience', the founders of Rent the Runway and Stitch Fix spoke about the origins of their online-based companies, which offer unique retail solutions in this time of change. One of the key points raised was the growing trend of fast fashion, challenging the very traditional models of retail and supply and demand. Through the enablement of the web we are seeing companies disrupt other models. Airbnb, for example, now successfully monetise in the hotel space, an idea that would have been unfeasible in the pre-Internet era. If Airbnb has managed to disturb the rental market so successfully imagine what could be achieved in the retail market. The next retail revolution
Your personal shopper For me,
it signals a real fork in the road for physical store-based retailers who need to adapt and embrace this changing culture - and take a look at what the future of the high street might look like. Those who are willing to embrace this change are looking at the new positioning of retail stores to create more meaningful experiences. Let’s take as an example Apple, who in many ways have been seen as leading this new age of retail by creating unique and personal experiences, as well as in-store servicing of products, ensuring the consumer has a completely unified experience of the brand from introduction to advocate and after sales support. ! We will see the emerging growth of physical and digital store experiences, as retailers move beyond a room to sell their products, to more diverse environments which will embody the brand, and service all the needs of a consumer. This will be complemented by the growth of social engagement in physical stores, allowing brands to feed live data and have a social presence in a physical environment. Data in the Driving seat Another re-surfacing talking point at this year’s SXSW was defining data in the physical environment. With the explosion of data capture devices we surround ourselves with, an astronomical amount of information and raw data is being captured. Such data sets as browsing behaviours, social activities, movements within spaces and our health, generate large amounts of info, but we have only scratched the surface of leveraging this to drive greater engagements in environments. ! Instant access to a wide range of available data means that on entering a space, whether retail or service, recommendations can be made to a consumer instantly, taking into account health, recent physical activity or movement behaviour. Then the curation of that data, to inform personal, targeted recommendations on data plans for mobile, insurance or even automated personal style shopping, will be combined with image recognition. The ultimate ‘Big Brother’ advancements in connecting and the use of multiple data sources provide a raft of opportunities, but in turn, the enormous issue of consumer protection. With the evolution of social, there is more real, honest user feedback. As they feel protected behind the anonymity of the internet, this will affect positioning in store to combat that Julie Bornstein - CMO Sephora
Mobile is at the heart
Wearables are something everyone is speaking about. Not a week goes by without the announcement of yet another new product entering the market. ! At SXSW, the theme dominated the schedule across the week too, and even made its way into a number of unrelated talks. Fuelled by the recent Apple keynote on the Apple watch, the industry now waits for one of the biggest innovators and players to ﬁnally bring their product to market later in April. ! One session that made me think more deeply about this growing trend of wearables was hosted by Mashable editor, Lance Ulanoﬀ : 'Wearable tech and design - cracking the mainstream code’. We heard from a range of panellists - David Austin (PCH), Jason Johnson (August) and Christina Mercando (Ringly). They covered a range of topics from connected homes now embracing wearables, to advancements in micro batteries. ! One of the most interesting aspects of the subject covered was the current trend of the mobile phone acting as a hub for various wearables, and what the future has in store for this. Currently, most wearables operate by sending and receiving information from a smart phone (usually via Bluetooth or wiﬁ). If you have a number of devices, they communicate directly with the mobile, which acts as a central hub for your personal, wearable eco-system. ! The next big evolution we’ll see in the wearable world will be a move towards more integrated connectivity, as connected devices ﬁnally start talking to each other, rather than just to the mobile phone. Most crucially, this is allegedly being developed to function fully regardless of the manufacturer and locked down ecosystem. ! The Wearable market represents the marriage of fashion, function & technology, with the wrist an extremely valuable piece of real estate Lance Ulanoff - Chief correspondent & editor at large - Mashable
Smart devices If my Pebble
smart watch could communicate directly with my August smart lock at home, the Pebble could unlock my front door without having to use my mobile as a 'middle man’. ! I’m really curious to see if this will actually transpire, as it would mean competing companies making connected devices would have to collaborate on an industry standard. Right now, it's presenting huge opportunities for new companies such as “If This Then That" to come in as a third party and facilitate this. ! On another Pebble note, they had a big presence at the show after the recent announcement of their latest product to market, Pebble Time (Raised $14m on Kickstarter in less than a week) . They also made the surprising announcement of Smart bands, - they are oﬀering $1M funding to prospective developers to devise third party bands that can pair with and enhance the Pebble user's experience.
Let's talk artiﬁcial intelligence (AI).
We continue to see extraordinary developments in the digital health space. Advancements in technology such as 3D- printed limbs, and micro-computer pills are leading this. We are moving closer and closer towards a blend of our physical and digital bodies. One of the keynotes was both inspirational and a little scary, as it discussed the advances that we might soon make in this ﬁeld. Martine Rothblatt is the CEO of United Therapeutics, author of Virtually Human, and one of the highest paid female CEOs in the US. She is also transgender. ! In this session, she spoke about her life, and of her radically innovative work. One of the key subjects in the talk that really inspired me was the debate surrounding cyber consciousness, or AI. Speciﬁcally, the ability of a machine to think and feel like a human being. This may sound like science ﬁction - a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey or Her - but it is very real, and it is very near. Artiﬁcial intelligence
Upload yourself As we move
towards the reality of AI, a number of serious debates will of course need to take place regarding the social impact and legal rights of these digital entities. We live in a time in which we increasingly capture our daily lives on social networks - from photos to interests and opinions - so is it really that far removed from a mind ﬁle? If you can, I would advise watching the talk once it is uploaded on the SXSW site – it really was a session that made me think and even question how I felt about AI, privacy and the ‘replication’ of the human brain. ! I have written a piece before about quantum computing, looking at the use of super computers to solve massive problems - but this takes it to the next level. Martine spoke about the concept of uploading our consciousness as a “mind ﬁle” that embodies everything we are - from our mannerisms and personalities to our attitudes, beliefs and memories. These mind ﬁles could then exist as a digital clone that could, in theory, live forever – or at least far longer your biological self! It sounds like science ﬁction but Martine has already created a prototype of this – she captured a mind ﬁle of her wife a few years ago. The clone is capable of having conversations, debates and was even interviewed by New York magazine last year. It has still a long way to go before being at the level of HAL, with seamless response and complete cyber consciousness, but they are making enormous leaps and bounds in this ﬁeld. Curiosity has led me to challenge the status quo, to rise to Cognitive Computing & AI thinking Martine Rothblatt - United Therapeutics Corp
Best on show Before approaching
the stage, my picture was taken again, looking off camera. Only then could I collect my sword from the stage. No ordinary wooden sword of course. A giant dragon egg image appeared on the display, I then swiped my sword through the air, “hitting” the dragon eggs. By doing so, the display mapped my face with objects and items from the series. The more I swiped and hit the target, the more creative and elaborate my portrait became. ! This is something more brands should be exploring by creating an experience that engages and entertains a consumer in a physical environment. It will lead to more earned media and brand advocates who feel a stronger emotional attachment to the brand. An example of this is the explosion of the use of VR as an experiential tool as it allow you to immerse yourself in a controlled environment, that wouldn't be possible at home (just now). Brands can no longer just use one way messaging. As consumers, we need and now expect the diﬀerentiator of seeing and then having experiences that embody that brand and re-enforce messaging. ! SXSW is the perfect place to see that in action. (Nerd alert)…. As an avid Game of Thrones fan, I was undeniably excited to hear that they were planning on running a GOT experience at SXSW. I had stumbled upon the #SXSWesteros hashtag, and knew I had to go and check it out! ! Away from the main downtown area, I came across a big box warehouse covered in GOT branding.. and an enormous line around it. As a delegate, I managed to skip the line - what I eventually found inside would have been worth the wait anyway. ! I left the Texas sun and entered an entirely blacked out and air-conditioned space, except for two illuminated “experiences”. The ﬁrst required you to have your picture taken on the lron Throne itself – and although the geek in me loved this, the second experience was the truly exciting part. ! A raised stage with three huge projected portrait displays was revealed. Each had a wooden sword upright, placed in front of it. ! I have a soft spot for physical/digital installations, so I was very excited to see what the reveal might be.
It was an incredibly accurate
experience, and hugely responsive to the user’s movements. The fans that took part then shared the original artwork created via their social networks, all of which helped to promote the new series as well as the latest sound track. ! This was a great example of a simple, but very well executed, use of technology and creativity combined to engage with fans and consumers. I advise checking out some of the GOT artwork, and coverage of the experience, to see how eﬀective it was – the pieces are beautiful! ! <—ME Make it engaging The environments we inhabit need to evolve and adapt with the people that occupy them, taking into account elements such as sound, time of day, social feed and even mood Rick Lin - Creative Technologist - Urban Matter
We are seeing an increasing
culture of sharing moments on the go (some would say over sharing!) paired with the growing consumption of bite sized content. These are permanently attached to our online profiles, which could come back at a later date to haunt us. To grow with this movement, we see more and more apps coming to the market that enable the younger demographic to adopt this and share time or location specific content such as Snapchat, and Meerkat. It also creates a feeling of urgency to be part of something almost secret, as you know once its gone it’s gone. ! This offers exciting new possibilities for brands and we have started to see some great examples that have embraced these new platforms… Snapchat culture
Meet Meerkat As a ‘Snapchat'
generation, looking to share our every moment on social networks, something like Meerkat has the potential to be huge. I’d be keen to see if it will make the leap from the early adopters to a more mainstream audience. ! The greatest challenge will be for them to try and keep up the momentum post-SXSW. Let’s face it, we all have a folder on our phones of apps we may have downloaded and used once or twice, but now lie dormant. It’s my apps graveyard folder. ! I’m keen to see Meerkat avoid this, and excited for the opportunity it could hold for brands willing to try out new platforms to tap into a younger demographic. Every year at SXSW, a wave of new and exciting apps try to make a splash, and command a spot in our mobile app. real estate. ! This year the app. I heard the most fuss about across a number of sessions was Meerkat - an easy-to-use, live streaming app that allows users to share their unique moments and experiences. I thought I would give it a go and capture a bit of my experience on the last day of SXSW. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get started. I pounded the streets of Austin with the device, checking out bands and various pop-up experiences. Within ten minutes I had eight people watching - at peak time, I had around ﬁfty. It oﬀers a real “in the moment experience” that you can share with others who would want to be part of it but physically not attend. ! Basic overview • It links to your Twitter credentials. • You can stream instantly, or you can schedule a stream for a later time. • It posts a link to Twitter the minute you start streaming so that people can follow you. • Numerous people can watch your stream from any device and are held in a group forum. • You can like, retweet or comment on the stream. Meerkat is about the engagement between brand and consumer via a live stream broadcast. As it is in the moment, it’s not trying to be perfect and planned shot for shot, and that could be a challenge for some brands. Pete Cashmore - CEO and Founder of Mashable
Make a diﬀerence Some examples
of how you can do this ! • Be attentive and responsive on social media: pay attention to how people are engaging with you and take time to respond ! • Oﬀer something of value: position yourself as a resource to consumers when you engage, make them want to come back ! • Make positive, emotional connections: create real, original content that resonates with your audience. There has been a a lot of talk regarding millennials (or generation Y) currently coming through school, college and moving into the work place. This demographic have diﬀerent goals, passions and ways of working due to the impact of growing up in an internet-enabled, hyper connected world. They have a digital, liquid, collective mindset. ! These millennials are disrupting the traditional processes in a good way. They challenge by breaking the expectations of the brands and services they engage with. The selection of options at their ﬁnger tips (via a quick search on Google) impact on the way organisations need to approach their relationships with consumers. They now face a more level playing ﬁeld with their customers and need to be more open and transparent with this more enabled market sector. ! This should be considered a positive, as it creates great opportunities to have more meaningful interactions. To be seen now more as a friend or extension of who they are, as opposed to the traditional product or service provider model. Every child is an artist, the trick is to be one once you grow up. Pabilo Piccaso
Al Gore gave a talk
at SXSW : ‘Climate Change: Challenge & Opportunity’ He focused on the ever-growing demand for transparency of an organisation’s operations and impact. Society now rightly expects more transparency, and access to information has exposed a number of individuals and companies that may not be conducting themselves in the correct moral or ethical way. ! Whistle blowers and Freedom of Information ambassadors like Ed Snowden and Julian Assange have led to new public revelations of sensitive and contentious information. ! This ought not to be seen as a negative but as a welcome opportunity for brands to position themselves in a more positive light. Apple for example has shared info. on its environmental impact from product manufacture & energy consumption, and has worked hard to turn that into a positive. Be transparent
In-audible mobile triggering system using
existing speakers Social photo challenging app designed for explorers Rent bikes directly from your phone. Match with nearby bike, unlock it and ride it wherever Insole for your shoe that generates, stores and charges your devices Start up spotlight