Bot Guide to SXSW 2017

It’s the beginning of the year, which means that SXSW is going to be here before you know it. We’re diligently putting together our schedules, and we want to make sure you’re prepared for the best bot-related events if you’re in Austin.

There’s a great lineup of workshops and panels for the bot space—see the list below, or click on a day to jump to that day’s lineup:

[Friday] March 10th, 2017
[Saturday] March 11th, 2017
[Sunday] March 12th, 2017
[Monday] March 13th, 2017
[Tuesday] March 14th, 2017
[Wednesday] March 15th, 2017

Friday, March 10th

Build a Chatbot: The New Consumer Engagement Tool
Workshop :: Tricia Katz, Mutual Mobile
The workshop led by Ms. Katz is a great opportunity for bot newbies to build their first Facebook Messenger bot. I’ve seen Tricia present before and she provides great insight into building bots for clients who don’t even have chatbots on their radar. If you’re new to the space, you should seriously consider adding this one to your schedule.

Saturday, March 11th

Best Bot Practices
Dual :: Omar Siddiqui, Kiwi Inc/Sequel; Laura Newton, Kik
As a great follow up to the previous workshop, you can learn about other platforms on which you can build bots as well as best practices. The speakers will give us insight into real-life examples of the bots they have build from some of the most recognizable brands.

Ready Or Not, The Bots Have Risen!
Panel :: Andrew Poon, Yahoo; Bryn Hurren, Amazon; Lauren Kunze, Pandorabots; Shane Mac, Assist
Executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Assist, and Pandorabots will explore the contextual search landscape and how companies who in the past have been seen as competitors are coming together to collaborate on paradigms to guarantee a better user experience.

How B2B Bots Will Help Your Company and Career
Solo :: Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot
The CTO and founder of CRM darling, Hubspot, will talk about how to use bots to complement and grow your core business. Hubspot is the creator of GrowthBot, which is one of Slack’s most popular bots.

B2A Marketing: Selling to the New AI Consumer
Panel :: Cory Clarke, VSA
While bots are shifting the paradigms of how we interact with technology, the consumer’s buying habits will also shift. The premise of the session is to help us prepare for that shift in the market. However, it’s pitched as a panel but only lists one speaker, so it’s hard to predict exactly which point of views will be represented.

Payments Gone Viral: The Rise of Social Commerce
Panel :: Dale Birvani Pfeifer, Goodworld; Kahina van Dyke, Facebook; Hans Morris, NYCA Partners; Ambarish Mitra, Blippar
The panelists will present the argument that payment apps are set to replace credit and debit cards. While users are greatly benefiting from paying for goods and services directly from the apps they spend the most time in, there is still room for improvement. The panel will explore the verticals for which this new paradigm isn’t working, and present ideas on how to fix it.

Sunday, March 12th

PSA: Daylight savings happens on this day, so keep that in mind and get yourself mentally prepared. 🙂

Will Bots Replace Bureaucracy?
Solo :: Joshua  Browder, DoNotPay
You may have heard of the bot that helps people in England get out of parking tickets. Joshua Browder built it. He will be talking about the projects he has built since to help people navigate highly bureaucratic environments. This is one of the talks I am most looking forward to. You should add it to your schedule, too!

Shop Shifting: How Tech is Changing Commerce
Solo :: Alexandre Naressi, Accenture
Mr. Naressi will explore the shift in buying patterns. He will focus on how AI will help us predict consumer behaviours as well as how their buying experience will be influenced by VR, AI, and home assistants.

Monday, March 13th

How Bots Are Automating Fact-Checking
Panel :: Alexios Mantzarlis, International Fact-Checking Network/Poynter Institute; Chengkai Li, The University of Texas at Arlington; Mevan Babakar, Full Fact; Bill Adair, Duke University
As the title of the panel suggests, the panelists are going to walk us through the bots they have built for fact-checking. They will also present their vision of the future of automated fact-checking and how it can change the landscape of real-time news.

Design Driven Growth for New Tech: Bots, AI, IoT
Workshop :: Mariya Yao, Xanadu Mobile; Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS
Join these two badass ladies for a workshop on growing your bot/AI/IoT related product and then retaining your newly acquired users. The workshop will combine hands-on exercises with lecture material to ensure that you walk out ready to grow your bot.

Hardware & IoT Meetup: AI, Bots, and Autonomous
Meetup
If you want to geek out to the newest in IoT hardware, you should definitely pencil this one into your calendar. It sounds like anyone is welcome to showcase their own IoT hardware, so if you plan on launching something at SXSW or just want to get some feedback from like-minded people, this is your chance.

Facebook Messenger and the Rise of the Chatbot!
Panel :: Esther Crawford, Olabot; Mikhail Larionov, Facebook; Thomas Smyth, Trim
Ms. Crawford wants all of us to have a personal bot to replace our portfolios and personal websites. If that weren’t intriguing enough, they will also cover the shift in paradigm that comes with conversational interaction design and platform risk.

Tuesday, March 14th

We Sued for Your Bots
Panel :: Rachel Goodman, ACLU; Christian Sandvig, University of Michigan; Esha Bhandari, ACLU
The session will focus on the ACLU’s challenge of the US anti-hacking law which hindering the use of bots and other forms of automated technologies by academics and journalists to surface abuses and potential discrimination by employers and the housing industry.

Talk To The Brand: Bots And The Chatty Marketer
Panel :: Stephanie Hay, Capital One; Chris McCann, 1-800-Flowers.com
The panel will explore the difficult balance that companies will need to strike between giving the customers personalized support through conversational platforms that mimic human interaction, and seeming too over eager to talk to customers who don’t want to talk to them.

Wednesday, March 15th

Slaying Scalpers for the Beyhive and Beyond
Panel :: Fielding Logan, Q Prime South; Jared Smith, Ticketmaster; Jeffrey Seller, Hamilton Broadway; Jennifer Snell, Next IT
The panel will explore the ways in which the entertainment industry is fighting off bots used by scalpers to purchase tickets to the hottest events. This is an opportunity to learn a lot about the inside workings of Ticketmaster and how your fees are getting used to ensure more people can buy tickets to shows.

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Elizabeth Winkler

About Elizabeth Winkler

Liz is the Director of Product Management at Message.io.