Bots Take Center Stage at SXSW

What started as a music festival in a city known for its passionate devotion to live entertainment, has now morphed into one of the leading technological events in America. It’s the place where we expect to see the next big thing — the app or consumer product that has a profound impact on our world.  

The annual entertainment and technology confab represents some of the biggest companies, the next crop of up-and-coming startups, and emerging areas of technology. Yesterday, as the festival kicked off, tens of thousands of people will be streaming into Austin, Texas to be the first to see and touch new and innovative experiences.

This year, one of the most talked-about areas is squarely focused on the world of bots. In addition to being one of the most anticipated areas to explore at SXSW, bots will join artificial intelligence (AI) and immersive entertainment experiences like augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This year, attendees even have the opportunity to plan their days through a bot baked into the SXSW Go app that can suggest the best place to pick up your badge or point you to a food truck. Austin cannot be experienced without a visit to one of their many epic food trucks. Thanks, Abby!

Already in the opening hours, our team noticed that bots are everywhere. Bots greeted us at the Capital Factory Spark Lounge.

And, the Amazon Prime drone was ready to take flight — we can call that a bot, right?

If you’re reading this, we don’t have to explain how important bots are in your work and life. Without many mainstream consumers even realizing it, bots have worked their way into many of our core daily experiences — from interactions with banks, online shopping, trip planning, and conversational experiences such as texts and messaging.

While they haven’t yet reached mass-market appeal, it’s just a matter of when. According to a report by Gartner:

“This technology offers a new human interface, which is particularly interesting since much of the current human interaction with technology is through a screen, a very old-fashioned approach. Interacting with chatbots won’t require any particular setup; the technology will simply understand and do as the human asks.”

Bot technology may not fully understand humans yet, but that’s why this stuff gets us so fired up about their development potential. The implications surrounding bots touches so many parts of our world. All the work that happens now informs the massive potential of bots later. The more we work on building tools and services that simplify the developer processes, the more platforms bots will work on.

A Moment in Time

Each day, we’ll post some of our favorite updates from this new and evolving world of bots on Twitter.

SXSW Day 2 Bot Sessions We’ll Follow

Here are the sessions that we’re excited about as SXSW heads into day two:

Bot Best Practices

Bots were one of the biggest trends in 2016. Facebook Messenger, Slack and Kik all launched bot platforms, and it’s been exciting to see the interest from small to big brands like Sephora, Vine and United. While the industry is bullish on bots, the current experiences have not lived up to the hype. The good news? It’s still early days, and there’s plenty of time to build a bot and help shape the future of chat.

This session will share insights into how to build good bots, drawing from years of industry experience building bots and working with various bot developers.

Ready or Not, The Bots Have Risen!

Advances in contextual search, and the rise of bots and digital assistants, are changing the way consumers search for and discover information. It’s also created a world where companies who were once viewed as purely competitors have become frenemies, encouraging partnership and collaboration to help create the best and most seamless experience for users. But are bots truly helping us find better information, faster? Executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Assist and Pandorabots, will discuss how this new interaction model will be the future of how we find the information we want and need from the brands we love, whether it’s from a bot or not.

How B2B Bots Will Help Your Company And Career

Will bots replace mobile apps? Will a bot steal my job? What’s the big deal with bots anyways? Bots are the beginning of a powerful new future and one of the biggest technology disruptions we’ve seen in decades. Join Dharmesh Shah, CTO and Co-founder of HubSpot as he discusses bots for business and how companies are using bots today to drive growth and productivity. He will also share first-hand lessons learned building GrowthBot, one of the top ten bots on Slack.

B2A Marketing: Selling to the New AI Consumer

Increasingly the power of making decisions is being delegated to algorithms and “bots”. From self-driving cars to robo-traders, people are more-and-more comfortable allowing software to make critical day-to-day decisions. As comparison shopping tools, automated personal shoppers, and shopping bots mature purchase consumer purchasing decision-making power rapidly being ceded to algorithms, requiring that we completely reframe the marketing industry. To put it another way, the AI robot overlords are coming, and they have credit cards. This panel will discuss the potential implications and methods of a B2A marketing and the industries most likely to see an impact.

See Something Awesome — Share it With us!

If you want to share updates or follow along with us, check us out on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to exploring this awesome new world of bots with you throughout the weekend. 

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