SXSW 2015 – Privacy, Gamification & Data Oh My!

March 15th, 2015 - Posted by: in Culture , Design/UX

imageFirst few days of SXSW Interactive are in the books, team SmartAcre g33ks got to meet such a diverse community of people. I say community as SXSW is more of a community than an event. From startups locally here in Austin to global brand leaders, SXSW Interactive continues to grow and up their game.

To try to summarize everything we saw, participated and learned into a post would be nearly impossible. In fact that is a common theme, there is so much you see and do but realize there is so much more you missed. However here are my random thoughts and takeaways from the first few days.

Data is driving businesses and startups

Let’s start with some crazy stats, we have been connected to the internet for 25 years. For the first time we have a generation (Generation Z) that has always had the internet. The internet is everywhere now, we don’t just connect our laptops or phones. It’s in our cars, on our bodies and in our home appliances. Last year when we attended SXSW it was all about the wearables. There is still a lot of buzz about wearable tech in 2015, however the verdict is out if it is a trend. Nevertheless the internet is a 29 trillion dollar business and there is so much you can do with it.

While we are connected to the internet, take a moment to stop and think what the web is collecting. Companies are collecting data about our personal demographics, our online behaviors, things we like and don’t like. Personal information is almost like virtual currency now. Ever ask yourself what is my email worth? Or even beyond what if someone figured our my salary, my net worth? What do we see the future trends to be?

Answer: Predictive data was said with an overwhelming response.

We are long past the big data boom and now it’s more about figuring out what people will do. Or should I say based on data holes in your profile deep learning can figure it out. It’s one thing to collect data it’s another to do something with it. There are software companies like Refresh, Inc. that have algorithms in their software go out and grab the data and can not only give you information about a person’s net worth but also predict when your birthday is even if you didn’t tell facebook. How? Take this simple example. If you have people wish your child a happy birthday on your wall, Facebook has just learned you have a child and when their birthday is. At SmartAcre we use data to inform our marketing decisions on daily basis. Data helps us inform our decisions on how to nurture leads and add velocity for our clients.

Being in control

Another common topic I heard was how to use gamification. Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ self contributions. The idea of gamification is a way to turn a normal, repeatable task into something fun or a game. In general people want and will keep track of progress because they know there is a reward at the end. However they want to be in control. Remember that when always pushing the gamification or automation. If over done people will shutdown and stop using your product.

Privacy and security

This is a hot topic this year at SXSWi. Since everyone is collecting data, more and more concern is growing with what is private and what is public. Think about how privacy in our world has changed. But the way we have changed is not just through the internet. Take for example in the 1960s and 70s, kitchens in homes were small and served a purpose. Today we want our kitchens to be large and open. They are designed for social entertaining and not to be private. The same goes for privacy. We are willing to give up something if we know there is something in the end we will get.

The big question we all need to answer in society is, what are we comfortable with giving up?

Would you give up your plasma or DNA? For data or information in return? I bet your first response is no. But what if there was software that could determine if you had a genetic strand that could tell you would would have an illness in the future and you could prevent by starting to take medicine today. Then would you give up your DNA?

Or how about giving up your cell phone access in exchange for an insurance quote. Maybe? A insurance company could reward you for safe habits like not taking photos, texting while driving. Could they save you money?

Check back in a few days with my observations on the second half of SXSW Interactive 2015. Please leave a comment below with any questions and I will respond.

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