SXSW - © Merrick Ales
Matthias Wesselmann, Vorstand fischerAppelt © fischerAppelt

Five important SXSW takeaways

Why attending SXSW is worthwhile - Matthias Wessselmann, fischerAppelt, takes a look back

More than 70,000 visitors from over 150 countries flocked to the world’s largest digital and creative fair South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas for inspiration about the latest digital trends. The Hanseatic city presented a 160-strong delegation, the second largest contingent from Germany. This proved a clear indication of creativity and the digital location. The investment is likely to pay off for every participant – from start-up, company to agency.

1. Important indicator of innovation

SXSW’s varied programme opens up fresh perspectives on culture, (digital-) society and technology. Against the backdrop of digital transformation needed in companies, the festival offers many rounds of discussions on artificial intelligence, blockchain or virtual reality. Participants can seize the opportunity to grapple with these issues creatively and to gain new insights by thinking outside the box.

2. Small talk fodder for new business deals

The spontaneously-announced keynote by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, who warned about artificial intelligence, or a talk by the Democratic politician, Bernie Sanders, who had urged Americans to get out and vote, were undoubtedly two of the most in-demand events at SXSW this year. The keynotes offered plenty of fodder for small talk, which may be crucial to new business deals at home.

3. Using informal setting

The German Haus, in particular, was a hotspot of the German tech, creative and music scene and a reliable point of contact for networking and easy-going exchange. The now-in-vogue city of Austin, which is characterised by many start-ups, apparently impacts on people’s interaction with each other. And many Germans, who had been strangers to each other before the festival, quickly began using the informal “Du” (You) in the German language.

4. Checking brands at the Trade Show

Regardless of Trade Show, German Haus or around the Convention Center, many important technologies, mobility concepts and consumer brands ranging from Dell, Sony, Intel, and Mercedes Benz to Pinterest, YouTube, Google and many location-marketing presences were featured at SXSW. Virtual-reality showcases were almost always among the brands presented. Anything from games to practical as well as tried and tested use cases could be found. The latter, in particular, really broadened the imagination in terms of direction in Germany and untapped potential for brand identity.

5. Catalyst for corporate transformation

Whoever is open to SXSW’s colourful mix of brand imaging, panels and network events, undoubtedly gains a large chunk of inspiration. On top of that, they gained a new angle on the existing state of affairs in terms of digital transformation in their own company or at least in the German economy. And exactly that is good reason for German companies to send an employee to the festival. Nothing else makes for such a sensible investment than empowering employees for digital transformation.

Guest commentary by Matthias Wesselmann, Member of the Board at fischerAppelt AG in Hamburg

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