SXSW Recap 2018 - Binary Fountain

April 16, 2018

SXSW Recap 2018

By: Kayla Zamary

Aaron Clifford, Binary Fountain’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, attends many conferences, and South by Southwest is one his favorites. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the panels and keynotes Aaron found informative and inspiring.

Overview: AI and Trust in the era of purloined data, and real fake news


One of last year’s hottest topics, Artificial Intelligence was just as prominent in 2018, because consumers are becoming accustomed to – if not exactly embracing – applications that have come into wider use. Do they like them? Maybe.  Do they trust them? Maybe not. Trust was also a recurring topic in many panel sessions. In this year of data use and abuse, and real stories of fake news, discussion focused on a study that places trust high on the list of challenges among respondents.

More Data, More Problems: Transparency in 2018
Toby McKenna, business and revenue growth, Bazaarvoice
Price Glomski, Executive Vice President at digital agency PMG
Atul Singh, Dell Global Ad-Tech
Jennifer Sugarman, Sony Electronics consumer marketing team leader

This panel was not focused strictly on health care, but it covered familiar territory. Campaign performance data, targeting segments are now based on complex combinations of data points; this can lead the users of the data astray. Atul Singh described ’good data’ very simply, as “data that does what it says it will do.” The panelists agreed that brands, data providers and agencies must cooperate to make sure the right data is being used, in the right way to reach the desired consumers. Listen here

Making Healthcare Price Transparency Actionable
Chris Moriates, Assistant Dean for Healthcare Value at Dell Medical School, TX Austin
Vineet Arora, Assistant Dean for Scholarship & Discovery at University of Chicago
Dr. Neel Shah, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and founder of Costs of Care
David Vivero, co-founder and CEO at Amino, a healthcare transparency company

The intro to this panel notes that “93% of Americans are ‘personally worried’ about healthcare affordability.” The panelists described the work of Costs of Care and Amino on bringing clarity in healthcare pricing out of the realm of Google searches and into the doctor’s office.  I was moved to tweet from the audience, “Pricing is a mess in healthcare. Comments and ratings from patients regarding their bill and costs of healthcare are rarely positive.” It’s reassuring to know that there are companies working to solve this problem. Listen here


Lessons in Innovation from Silicon Valley Elite
This session featured Ann Hiatt, who has been an Executive Business Partner to Marissa Mayer (former CEO of Yahoo), Jeff Bezos (CEO of and currently Eric Schmidt (former Executive Chairman at Google).  The topic was how to cultivate an atmosphere in your organization that enables it to hire with vision, breed creativity and inspire ambition.

Create Magic: 6 Experiential Storytelling Secrets
Cynthia Jones, GM for Innovation Experiences at the Henry Ford Museum
Christian Lachel of of BRC Imagination Arts
Claire Tolan, of Jameson Distillery, Ireland

This panel explored creativity and engagement in customer experience. Discussion included ways to use six secrets of experiential storytelling to engage, entertain and inspire audiences, and to learn how to create an experience that forges an emotional connection, deepens engagement and inspires life-long loyalty. Listen here

Balancing Brand Building vs Performance
Mary Corcoran, President, Twist Mktg/W2O Group
Ty Shay, SVP and CMO for Symantec’s Consumer Business Unit
Mark Stouse, CEO, founder Proof Analytics
Marissa Tarleton, CMO of RetailMeNot, Inc

Building a likable brand lubricates the wheels of performance marketing, but accountability is more vital than ever. This panel gathered CMOs and CCOs of major brands to discuss how they balance building brand equity with maximizing performance metrics, and to explore how analytics can help define the right mix. Listen here

Trust: The Currency of the Sharing Economy
Juliette Kayyem, CEO of Zemcar, and a homeland security expert
Nick Shapiro, Global Head of Trust and Risk Management at Airbnb, and former Deputy Chief of Staff at the CIA
Arun Sundararajan, professor at NYU  Stern School of Business, teaching tech entrepreneurship, the digital economy, and more

The description for this panel notes that recent studies show society experiences an unprecedented crisis of trust. At the same time, millions of people book lodging through Airbnb, and don’t hesitate to hop into an Uber or Lyft car. The discussion explored the reasons for mistrust, and the enthusiasm that some sharing economy companies inspire in their customers. This is relevant in healthcare customer engagement, because our industry encounters similar peaks and valleys of confidence and mistrust. Listen here

Quantum computing: on the horizon but approaching fast

Still in the far distance for most people in healthcare is the advent of quantum computing. With both panel and keynote events on the subject, SXSW made it clear that this hard-to-grasp next wave of computing is approaching at warp speed. The presentations helped to address the question: “What problems will be solved with this quantum leap in computing power that cannot be solved today with the world’s most powerful supercomputers?” Listen here and here.

About the Author

Kayla Zamary
Marketing Manager

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