What You Missed at SXSW 2016

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A few weeks ago, we attended the SXSW 2016 festival in Austin — and it did not disappoint.  There was so much to learn, take in, and explore, it was a truly rewarding experience.  From brand experiences, startups, and technology, we rounded up to share some of our favorite takeaways from the trip.

Here’s what you missed at SXSW 2016:

DAY 1

We arrived at Austin, Texas.  The city looked and felt like Portland – Oregon and New Orleans – Louisiana.  Artsy and trendy, yet sophisticated at times.  A city with a strong college presence (University of Texas) and an entrepreneurial ecosystem that you can see and feel.  Streets were crowded with participants from all over the world: 60,000 of us.  The festival is structured in three parts; Interactive, Music and Film.  Interactive, the one we attended, showcased technologies and services, from the usual suspects (Oracle, IBM, Google) to up and coming companies and startups.

We started the day by listening to President Barack Obama’s opening key note.  It was great! He made it clear to everyone that by participating in the conference he was letting everyone know that the world and the USA needed our ideas, products and services.  He challenged the audience to engage with the government and the business community to keep innovating and looking for solutions to make life better for everyone thru technology.  He talked about security, analytics, and big data.

Dag Kittlaus, Steven Levy @ SXSW 2016 Photo: Ståle Grut
Dag Kittlaus, Steven Levy at SXSW 2016 Photo: Ståle Gruto

Our second conference was about Artificial Intelligence (AI) from the creator and founder of Apple’s SIRI, Dag Kittlaus.  It was a product acquired by Apple after it was developed by his company.  I learned a little about AI and how this technology continues learning from constant interaction with humans and machines.  I soon realized that the “secret sauce” of AI is mostly the algorithm that resides in the back end of the application.  The one that helps capture, store and analyze the information continuously so that when asked, the application provides answers.

Our last conference was about finding a product fit within entrepreneurs and the market they wanted to sell in.  We had the opportunity to watch two companies in a panel where the moderator and speaker would ask questions such as: What is the problem you want to solve and how do you plan to solve it?  From there, building a business and identifying new markets, product features, new products, etc.  The speaker, Scott Cook, worked for Intuit (creator of QuickBooks) and was in-charge of developing new products within the company.  Sort of an Intrapreneur.  It was a great practical example of how the thinking process should work when taking an idea to market.

DAY 2

My first conference was about Machine to Machine and Machine to Person interaction (learning).  A Bot (roBot), as I learned, is known in the industry as a machine with an algorithm that can replace human interactions on occasions.  Lark, an automated chat based health app provides a Bot interface with humans to respond to health questions that otherwise will be responded by humans.  Lark learns continuously from people’s questions.  Sort of a SIRI but specialized in health.

Second conference, “Tech and Modern Government.”  Congressman Flores from Austin, Texas was one of the panelist of the session.  He talked about the ways to disrupt government thru technologies and discussed examples such as Uber and Lyft.  He mentioned that most of the time government is not ready to accept change, as the innovation comes from private citizens and not government.  He recommended joining professional organizations and lobbying as a group in Congress to make things happen.

Third, SXSW Accelerator, where three startup presented their proposed business.  This was a great opportunity to see and feel how these companies pitch their ideas.  I have to say they were all great.  One business created a legal algorithm were contracts were reviewed for possible clauses that needed to be discussed further, while another business created a pressure sensor for gas tanks to fulfill gas dispatching – internet of things (IOT).

My fourth conference was about Millennials.  It was called “The End of the Work-More Culture”.  It started out with a good description of what this generation represents.  However I could never understand how working less increased my possibility of success.  I guess I belong to a different generation and will never understand… Moving on!

DAY 3

The first conference of the day was titled “Good Charts, Making Smarter Data Visualization”.  The speaker went through different types of charts with similar content and pointed out how each of them convey different messages, and why charting is very important to select the types that speaks to the audience clearly.

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“Software as an Agency” by Cory Clarke. Source: VSA Partners

Next conference, “Analytics for Social Marketing.”  Businesses are using the power of social media to better understand their markets and customers.  However, they need analytics to go through data and transform it into information they can react to.  Twitter, Facebook, CRM and others are some of the tools used to capture what is called “Social Capital” to better understand customers’ trends. We at Fusionworks use and offer Microsoft Dynamics CRM for this matter.

The third conference, “Software as an Agency” by Cory Clarke, was a session that demonstrated that the line between a Digital Marketing Agency and a software/developer/consulting company such as Fusionworks is very thin.  Agencies are developing applications, sometimes B2B but mostly B2C.   However, they are working on design, development, UX/UI, content management, features and functions such as we are.  It was quite an eye opener experience because we are faced with new competitors that a few years back we did not consider as such.  Prospectively we need to evaluate the possibility of joining forces with companies like this.  It will make our applications better looking and provide the user with a better experience.  We are currently collaborating with a company named MindOven in Puerto Rico which is a Digital Marketing Agency interested in managing CRM campaigns for their customers while using Dynamics CRM as a tool to manage them.

Fourth conference; “Cognitive Computing” – cognitive computing is defined as the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model. These are the next-generation computer systems that learn and interact naturally with people to extend what humans or machines could do on their own. Cognitive computing systems get better over time as they build knowledge and learn a domain. This primarily includes their language, terminology, processes and preferred methods of interacting. Unlike expert systems of the past that required rules to be hard coded by a human expert, cognitive computers can process natural language and unstructured data and learn by experience, much in the same way humans do. Again, more about artificial intelligence, the use of Bot’s (roBots), machine learning, algorithm and so for.  People, this is what’s next!!!!

Trade exhibitions, Puerto Rico Startups Booth and Parallel 18 gathering

First, we had the opportunity to go into the trade exhibitions. There was everything from software, services and appliances.  The most popular brands were present and a lot of startups presenting their new solutions as well.  We visited the PR Startup Booth which was well displayed and attended by 5 local PR startups demonstrating their solutions to the world.  It was good seeing our country participate in such an important event.  Lastly we participated in Parallel 18’s party.  It was great, we met a lot of people and connected with a few potential companies and individuals which we can do business in the future, both in PR and USA.

DAY 4

On Monday I participated in a few non business related sessions.  One of them, GIF which are short videos that you place in website or consumer portals to enhance User Experience.  I also saw Anthony Bourdain in a live interview about his TV show and view of life; interesting personality.  Lastly I went to a Latino Meetup where I met the Director of the Board for the Stanford Latino Emerging Leaders Program which Fusionworks will be participating in this summer.  From this last one, it was obvious that Latino penetration in the USA in terms of business is very limited and there are big opportunities for us in technology and digital markets.  Hopefully this is something that we will be learning more in the program.

In summary, it was a great event and an amazing personal and professional experience.  I got to learn of many companies and solutions that I do not get to know in Puerto Rico or any other Partner Meeting.  The city was great and full of people with great and grand ideas.  It is always refreshing to get out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to new things.  I came back with lots of ideas that I hope to integrate some in Fusionworks.

Hope you enjoyed our experience highlights. Keep coming back to read more about the IT industry, and other interesting stuff.

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This article was written by Leslie Luciano, Fusionworks’ Director.

Fusionworks: experts in Microsoft GP, Microsoft CRM, Oracle Fusion Financials, Oracle EBS, Prophix, SAP Business Objects, Microsoft Power BI. 

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