As a South By newbie, I’m eager to soak up some new perspectives on doing things a better way. New ways of approaching age old problems and plenty of new ones are all around us, something that struck me as I arrived in Austin by way of transit from Chicago.
Preparing to jump on the airport transit train I noticed arrows on the floor directing travellers to stand either side of the sliding doors, while the rest exited the train via another arrow in the middle. A simple nudge towards better behaviour. The taxi rank at Austin directed you to stand next to a number etched on the sidewalk indicating how many people where in your group, so that the right sized taxi could pick you up. Another nudge towards better behaviour (not least a reduced sense of queuing). When we grabbed a meal that night the bill came neatly divided by ‘seat’ so everyone knew exactly how much to stump up. A simple nudge… you get the picture.
New solutions are all around us and nowhere more so than at SXSW 2014.
Speaking to some veterans of previous conferences I know to expect to be hit by a barrage of evangelical hype about the future, and the temptation to get swept along with the pace and scale of change in any number of fields. Wearable tech, domestic robots, the quantified self, social enterprise, data for good (and bad), the internet of useful things, real time storytelling for brands; any number of these and a hundred other new trends has the capacity to change the world, or not.
What I’m most interested to hear is how companies big and small are putting some of these buzzwords into practice. What are the challenges they face in doing so and how have they adapting to meet them? What are their simple nudges towards adopting new behaviour?
These guys aren’t just talking about the potential in the future, they’re making it happen now. Their willingness to share what they’ve learnt, and what they’re planning on doing next with the rest of us is one of the things that makes SXSW such an exciting place to be.
To see live photos of SXSW view PHD’s Pinterest page.
Simon Harwood, Planning Director for Innovation & Insight. PHD UK