Mar 16, 2016 / by Eliza Cohen

SXSW_Retrospective.jpgSXSW Interactive is so often described as a scene of absolute organized chaos. 

In many ways, this is an accurate description. As I sit down this evening and let the past five days soak in --- days literally bursting at the seams with some of the most thought-provoking interactions with friends and (up until now) strangers – it seems to me that rather than chaos, SXSW is a time for us to pause (if you can call non-stop action, networking and sampling Tex-Mex a pause) to connect the dots. Upon further reflection, I came to the conclusion that it is SXSW Interactive's unique power to influence the connecting of the dots that make this festival so special. Read on to learn more about this influence.

Harnessing the Power of People  

Look outside any window in downtown Austin during SXSWi and you most likely will see hundreds of tiny dots — people moving both in packs and stag. SXSW connects festival goers by harnessing the power of people in groups and in sharing mode. Over the past decade, the city of Austin has become synonymous with innovation. And the city nurtures both innovation and knowledge sharing in a way rivaling any other city across the country. During SXSXi, this knowledge sharing increases logarithmically.

This past Friday evening, we welcomed hundreds of public relations and marketing focused customers, neighbors and festival attendants to our offices for a celebration of our incredible TrendKite community and SXSWi. Here at TrendKite, we make it our mission to empower brands and agencies to connect the dots surrounding their own ecosystems – through seamless and beautiful reporting, thoughtful integrations and best-in-class strategic consulting and support. And support to connect the dots goes both ways; feedback is our fuel and we value the feedback of our community to help us grow within an industry that we are simultaneously pushing to evolve. It is this kind of relationship (the combining of minds, conversations and sounding boards) that is truly demonstrative of the power and magic of SXSW Interactive. See how TrendKite empowers PR professionals 

Data is the Most Powerful Language

We live in a world today in which there is a strong focus on “data driven insights.” As our personal and professional lives continue to produce what seems like an infinite amount of data, the ability to synthesize this data and pull out the nuggets from the noise has become both increasingly difficult and one of the most sought after skills in the job market.

Data has become currency and power – and when worked with correctly, data connects people in productive ways. Hearing the stories of our customers using TrendKite data to shape strategic business decisions is unequivocally what gets me out of bed and into our office every morning. Take the Japan-inspired, luxury beauty brand, Tatcha for example -- who recently used TrendKite dashboards to discover unexpected influencers within the food blogging arena. This discovery became the driving force behind the re-wiring of their affiliate marketing strategy. Or extending beyond the PR and marketing arena, IBM Watson, which uses massive amounts of data to drive better healthcare decisions. Data has become part of the fabric of our personal and professional lives – and it’s clear that it’s not going anywhere. 

Blueprint for the Future

Each year, one or two special gadgets distinguish themselves as “so hot right now” at SXSWi. If 2015 was the year of wearables then 2016 was unequivocally the year of virtual reality. From Mashable house’s Samsung Gear VR, to Sony’s Playstation VR, it seemed like every expo, news article and social feed was full to the brim with this hot trend. But the question now is will this trend last? How does one measure its potential staying power? 

As festival participants and followers (PR directors, marketing analysts, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, etc.) settle back into their desks this week, they will begin to sift through the tea leaves left behind by experiences and coverage of SXSW Interactive. They will analyze quantitative and categorical data to create their own blueprint of the future that the festival has sketched for them this year. They will measure their own impacts and re-titrate their strategies accordingly. And in turn, they will use this analysis to help them to connect the dots. 


TrendKite team member Matthew Heng (Manager, Customer Success) contributed content and SXSW experiences  to this article.

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