SXSW 2015: Highlights From The Keynotes

Every SXSW Interactive features notable speakers on provocative topics, this year spanning everything from ride sharing to “mind clones.” We’ve identified three important themes for marketers:

  1. Empathetic design takes center stage
    Paola Antonelli, senior curator for MoMA, kicked off her keynote on the future of design with a shout-out to the rise of empathetic design. A user-centered design approach that focuses on the user’s feelings toward a product, empathy-driven design can provoke emotion, influence user behavior, and create strong connection. Paired with the right metrics, it can generate measurable intimacy that brands can benefit from.
  2. Ride sharing on the rise
    Logan Green, co-founder and CEO of Lyft, was reluctant to talk much about his major competitor Uber, but he did have a lot to share about his vision for the future of driving. He believes that the spreading practice of ride sharing has enabled more affordable, reliable and memorable transportation while boosting the local economy, and that on-demand car services like Lyft will make car ownership “unnecessary” in the future.
  3. Mobile reigns supreme
    Directly or indirectly, all five presenters this year touched on the impact of the ubiquitous connectivity aided by mobile devices. For instance, the first thing highlighted by Astro Teller, head of Google[x], was the recent success of its Loon project, in which Google has tested high-altitude balloons to provide Internet access to rural and remote areas. The paramount challenge for brands in this “mobile age” will be how to gracefully capitalize on the connection established by smartphones and wearable devices.