20150316SXSW006This post was originally posted on the Pitney Bowes Corporate Blog.

The South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas is an exploration and collaboration of what is new in technology, film and music. Opening today, the tech (or interactive) track of SXSW is that rare event where the attendees are creative technologists and storytellers. Or, to paraphrase Arthur O’Shaughnessy, they are the music makers and dreamers of dreams. The future is being shaped here, in over 1,500 sessions and events – and in the invaluable one-on-one discussions.

The SXSW conference has a great track record: 8 years ago, topics included how social media will go mainstream leveraging location and mobile, or SoLoMo – and how it will pave the way for social commerce. Over the past few years, topics included location intelligence, 3D printing, privacy, searches without searching (think Google Now), wearables (like smart watches), the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) – and how and why people, and eventually businesses will adopt these. (Augmented Reality is a layer of information placed over the image on your mobile screen. For example, use your mobile device to look at the Empire State Building and see a pop up of content showing the height of the building, when it was made, etc. Virtual Reality is an “immersive” platform where the user normally wears glasses of some type to see, hear and interact with a virtual world).

This year, hot topics at SXSW include better leveraging big data and its sources, the Internet of Things (IoT), including next generation wearables, real-time location intelligence, the exponentially growing significance of social media, AR and VR merging to become the next major platform and the advancement of robots. This year there will even be a robot petting zoo.

These all tie into global behavior changes; specifically, the increasing engagement and participation of individuals to organizations and to each other. This new norm is powering emerging business models and driving change in traditional ways of doing business. “The collaborative economy” as some call it, brings all these elements together and should make for a very interesting SXSW conference – and future.

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