First of all, if you want my quick and direct opinion: Amazing!
Now, if you would like me to detail to you how SXSW surprised me (and for good) below are my thoughts.
The first day of the conference we received our badges, we were really excited and our foursquare and gowalla got noticed on our first visit to the Austin Convention center. During the Interactive period we attended lots and lots of sessions of various topics!
Latin America was present at the IT summitt, and also in a session called Cashing Out: Start-up Successes in Latin America where Daniel Undurraga (Groupon) and Andrés Barreto (SocialAtom group) explained how there’s a change now and venture capital is being allocated to the consumer web or technology sector and how startups have adjusted to this reality.
Cesar attended two mobile banking sessions, this type of mobile apps need a special attention due to their security issues. With all we ‘ve learnt, Common Sense can keep on developing and improve mobile banking projects!
I attended I’ve never met my coworkers: Running international teams, presented by Jason Lengstorf and Thomas Sturge (Copter Labs). I thought this session would help me with our Common Sense international teams (Argentina/USA) but actually it made me really happy that we are applying almost everything they mentioned, we are on the right track and doing things fine! Their recommendations were mostly based on communicate-communicate-communicate and suggested different online tools for team work.
The Kill Your Call Center! Bring Your Support Home panel gave us great ideas on how to improve our support for our clients, Frank Eliason (Comcast), Frederik Mendler (Rackspace Hosting), Jon Spenceley (FreshBooks) and Michelle Kostya (Research in Motion). Generate commitment and make your customers “feel like superstars” by incorporating support into your core business.
It was obvious I would enjoy, and very much, the “Future of Journalism” category! Among various sessions, it was very interesting how content management is tackled in companies and how this great business asset sometimes is not considered as such: Not my job: The ultimate content strategy smackdown. The panel included Jim Mathewson (IBM), Kristina Halvorson (Brain Traffic), Lisa Welchman (WelchmanPierpoint), Nathan Curtis (Intentional Design Inc).
In this same category was Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising where Brian Clark (GMD studios), David Eastman (JWT), Kyle Monson (JWT) and Shiv Singh (PepsiCo) explained how to communicate like humans, how to listen and how to use transparency in all marketing and enterprise content.
The Core Conversation Cage Match: Social vs. Video presented by Natanya Anderson (Dachis Group) and Russ Somers (Invodo) dealt with the pros and cons of each of these for marketers. I really enjoyed the panel, and was happy to meet these two marketers!
We met lots of interesting people, and that’s what SXSW it is also about, right? Apart from Natanya and Russ, the conference allowed me to finally meet Fernando Labastida, who leverages the IT Latin American market. That’s why we interviewed him regarding why US companies should outsource to Latin America, you can read and watch his interview here.
Fernando introduced us to the StartUp Bus – Lemonade Stand guys. They took a bus from New York to Austin and in 48hs developed a great app to sell online. Team work and staying awake is what mattered for this guys! We also met different entrepeneurs and IT guys from Latin America thanks to Fernando: Alan Colmenares who innovates from Colombia with digital projects and Daniel Undurraga founder of Groupon Latin America and whom we interviewed about how to succeed with your startup if you are in Latin America. Thanks to Fernando I also met a social media guy: Ian Greenleigh that just like me, got a job through marketing himself in social media!
We also talked with Jose Briones about Product Management while Ricardo Guerrero tried to make us dance Salsa (ha!) and through whom we met Peggy Dold who apart from doing Marketing for global entertainment, she loves Argentina! Peggy is developing a very interesting social music app. Famous twitterers Mauro Accurso and Dominican Joan Guerrero found Ricardo while we where eating, and now we’ve got new social media friends! Estuardo Robles and Tom Evans also were present at this event and we enjoyed some meals together and shared a GroupMe to keep in touch and organized all our SXSW days.
We attended several parties hosted by well known companies: AMD, Microsoft, Google, among others. We had a great time. In the Google party we met Catherine Liao, she had a great idea to develop a “wine app”! At the Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 party I finally met Gregg Hansen, AMD VP. Gregg congratulated me on my LinkedIn CS promoting job, thanks Gregg ;)
We also met people from Argentina, like Antón Chalbaud, from AltoDot which develops interesting Social Marketing IT.
The city itself surprised me, the people, the great convention center, the extremely well organized conference, the sessions (of course!) and though the lodging situation was completely full and lots of people in the city, it did not collapse and we all enjoyed the event.
In my opinion, the SXSW keynotes are the ones that define the main concepts that founded this conference. Seth Priebatsch (SCVNGR) made us see life through a gaming lenses. The game rules produce engagement with our goals, and engagement was exactly what Guy Kawasaki expressed in his own presentation. But also life is about us helping our society, and successful companies can do a great marketing campaign while they give. Tom’s founder Blake Mycoskie explained his own giving project and how that made his company grow tremendously. Last but not least, location and QR codes are at the top of the tecnology features that can still make a revolution in business.
Regarding our region, Latin America had a very important presence in SXSW this year, we hope that in 2012 it has more sessions and panels, Common Sense undertakes that responsibility!
All in all, SXSW was: Make friends, start business, develop new ideas and have fun!
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