Keep Austin at the forefront: 10 cannot-miss sessions for SXSW 2016

By Katie McWilliam

As a resident of Austin, Texas, I have been anticipating this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) since we rang in 2016. The city is an incredible hub for the tech community, but the vibrancy and advancement of Austin as a tech leader becomes most apparent during the annual SXSW Interactive from March 11 to 15. Twitter, Foursquare and Periscope all launched at previous SXSW sessions and went on to change the way we communicate, exchange ideas and share experiences.

If you have tried to select which SXSW events you will attend, you know that the schedule is chock-full of inspiring and influential topics and panels. How will you narrow it all down? Luckily for you, the legwork has been done; here are 10 sessions to add to your schedule.

Smart Women Using Smart Data to Rise to the Top. Friday, March 11, 12:30 – 1:30, Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater: There is a lack of women in computing positions today. This session will focus on how data and digital jobs are having a positive impact for women in tech. Specifically, the panel will discuss how women are utilizing big data and analytics to help them make better and more effective decisions and spur their career development.

Why you should add this to your schedule: The success women are seeing using data-driven decision making is a lesson that everyone can benefit from, no matter what your gender is!

Mobile Ventures’ Identity and Privacy Management. Friday, March 11, 3:30 – 4:30, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon B: With mobile technology rapidly changing how businesses develop, privacy and identity management are becoming ever-present challenges. Speakers from multiple sectors will discuss privacy from the other side of consumerism, beyond trading privacy for service.

Attend this panel because: Mobile technology is progressing at a rapid pace, which is bringing privacy to the forefront. Are you prepared?

Make Magic, Not Mobile Apps. Saturday, March 12, 12:30 – 1:30, JW Marriott, Salon D: Mobile devices have made things that seemed like science fiction 20 years ago an everyday part of our lives. But, as our mobile devices become more proficient in assisting in the day-to-day, what does that mean for the role of our apps? Learn how Uber, OpenTable and Pinterest have adapted to create better user experiences.

Add it to the calendar because: It is astounding to reflect on how mobile apps have evolved. This session will look at where we’re headed with presenters from some of mobile’s most popular apps.

Bringing Stories to Life for the Smaller Screen. Saturday, March 12, 3:30 – 4:30, Hilton Austin Downtown: Audiences are shifting from the web to mobile devices. To account for this change in traffic, news organizations have to find ways to engage with their readers. A panel with representatives from the Guardian’s new mobile lab, The New York Times’ NYT Now, NPROne, Buzzfeed’s News App and Apple News share their lessons learned.

Why you’ll want to attend: It’s said that the only way to inspire a new idea is through storytelling. As such, learning how to effectively tell stories through mobile is paramount.

Coding on Camera: “Mr. Robot” and Authenticity on TV. Sunday, March 13, 12:30 – 1:30, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom EFG: “Mr. Robot” experienced huge success in its first season due to its authentic representation of hacking. Listen as the cast and crew of the show discuss how they navigated the challenge of realistically depicting tech culture.

Why you should attend: Whether you’re an old coding pro or just a fan of the show, hearing the cast, crew and critics talk about the criticism and praise the show has received should stimulate some interesting discussions. If you can’t make it, you can use #SXSW #MrRobot to follow the live conversations around the session.

IBM Watson: Information, Insight and Inspiration. Sunday, March 13, 3:30 – 4:30, Courtyard Marriott, Rio Grande Ballroom: How can computers help to improve our lives? Watson is being used to solve a myriad of human challenges, such as those in the healthcare and culinary science industries. Find out how the future applications of IBM Watson might impact our world.

Why you should go: You may know Watson from “Jeopardy!,” but after attending IBM InterConnect last month, I was completely captivated and enthused to learn about the ways that Watson is being integrated to improve a wide range of industries, including concierge services and patient care.

Lead, Not Follow: The Consumer’s Mobile Journey. Monday, March 14, 11:00 – 12:00, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H: How are customers engaging on mobile? And how do marketers, brands and advertisers create better personalization by leading customers through the mobile journey?

Attend this panel because: As a customer who is heavily influenced by my Starbucks app, I am curious to see the potential for the future of loyalty programs. If you can’t attend, follow #SXSW #engagemob.

Forget Unicorns: Breeding Dragons in a Mobile World. Monday, March 14, 5:00 – 6:00, Austin Convention Center, Ballroom EFG: While the term ‘unicorn’ may be familiar, this panel will explore the emerging concept of ‘dragons.’ By using innovative mobile technology, companies can create meaningful engagements between customers, marketers and brands.

If you can’t attend this session: Make sure to follow the discussion around it using #SXSW #dragons.

Impact of MedTech in a Super-Aging Society. Tuesday, March 15, 12:30 – 1:30, JW Marriott, Room 201-202: Learn about how Japan is using universities’ research and development for healthy longevity, putting the country at the forefront of MedTech development. Not only is MedTech propelling the commercialization of technology, but it is also stimulating the regional economy. The panel will discuss the effects on Japan’s technological innovation.

Why you should add this to your schedule: For me, the most exciting thing about technology integration is the potential it has to change healthcare and patient care. You can follow the discussion around this session using #SXSW #jpmedtech.

Closing the Knowledge Gap with Cognitive Design. Tuesday, March 15, 3:30 – 4:30, JW Marriott, Salon FGH: This panel will focus on how to improve web/app design for users through cognitive design. The discussion will showcase the application of the enterprise tech tool with the personal story of John Kirkwood, a web developer who used these tools to help him overcome a severe brain injury.

If you can’t make it: Use #SXSW and #CognitiveUX to follow the discussion.

Written By

Katie McWilliam

Social Business Manager for IBM Mobile

Katie is the Social Business Manager for IBM Mobile, maintaining the social presence across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. She helps develop the content marketing strategy to create engaging social content. Katie is aluma of Virginia Tech. Prior to IBM, Katie developed…

Other Articles by Katie McWilliam
See All Posts