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SXSW: what does it mean for business marketers?

By Ben Dansie

Whether or not all the creative, musical, digital types are all still full of yoga and mindfulness having flown back from Austin, and just seen the size of their inboxes, who knows. What we do know is that SXSW is reflecting the changes in the development of the web. Less big bang, razzle dazzle announcements, and more reflection on the big themes. Which makes it a little harder to divine where the web and the community that lives by it are headed. Rather than try and chew over the whole agenda, I ask: what does this mean for business marketers in the B2B world?

In brief, the major themes from SXSW are:

  • The Snowden Effect. Privacy is paramount. Privacy has value.
  • Currency. If privacy has value then BitCoin may finally make web payments native not a bolt on.
  • Data Permanence. Shots of sweaty execs in yoga gear will be around for a long long time. That’s bad for business.
  • Wearable Tech. Will continue to grow in its many forms and be huge for business.
  • Man vs Machine. The Robots are coming to a job near you.
  • Making. 3D print has been largely frivolous so far. That will change.
  • Visual. The web has been largely text driven. No more.
  • Mindfulness. Honest. Expect business people to spend less time on devices and get a little nicer (and bendier).

For business all this means a more human (and perhaps humane) internet. The recognition of the visual element in our online lives will bring huge benefits in user experience, in the primacy of the image over the letter and further recognition that we all have lives with limited time. The best companies will treat relevance as a priority and understand that time, privacy, content are all currency. Whether you are in product or service marketing, think about how each of your touchpoints must contain some kind of exchange of value.

What is exciting for us marketers is how the web is coming much more into the sphere of our physical lives. In your home life it’s called the Internet of Things. At work it’s about smart sensors, wearable tech and 3D print. With the ability to rapidly prototype AND physically print in 3D, the need for businesses to collaborate will maintain the need for strong B2B relationships. That’s where we see the real impact of all of these themes: not the connected internet, but connected business. Through necessity and opportunity, businesses will increasingly connect with each other to deliver online experiences in real time and customise physical products in the shortest time possible.

This echoes one of the longest running themes in our What Works Where Research (#wwwb2b). The internet. It’s all about people, not the platform. Finally we’re beginning to get there.

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