It’s the annual pilgrimage to Austin’s SXSWi (South By Southwest Interactive) for what is fast becoming a bloated expression of all that the people who are not in technology detest about the industry: postulation (in the form of panels) and self-promotion (in the form of product launches). And I say this as someone who went to SXSW last year and had an amazing experience. For many reasons, including the astronomical prices of flights/tickets/hotels, we won’t be going this year.
So what should I, and the hundreds of thousands of us who are staying home, be doing while our friends network in Austin?
1. Pay attention to the trends coming out of Austin but do not let this distract you. User Experience (2010), Social Ecommerce (2011) etc. were the trends at SXSW a few years ago, before the rest of the world started to pay attention. You want to pay close attention to these macro-trends to figure out the applicability for your business. Where the trends do not fully apply to what you are doing then it’s OK, don’t force it on your business model. Just like it’s OK not to be at SXSW.
2. Sign up for the SXSW account to snoop on your competition, investors and thought leaders. I hesitate to call all the panelists and topics groundbreaking but, within the rough you will find some diamonds in the form of thought leaders. You can find these people in the long list of attendees and panelists on the SXSW website. We did this last year even before we registered to go. You can also stay on top of things by following the SXSW hashtag on Twitter or other social listening channels. Some of the panels will be streamed (just search on the day). Most importantly though