SXSW Moments: AI for Business

The Forrest Four-Cast: June 19, 2019

Did you miss something at SXSW 2019? Want to relive the magic? Look to this space over the coming weeks for links to video and audio replays of some of the most incredible experiences from this year’s event.

“It’s an interesting and dangerous time, seeing the potency of AI and its ability to fake anything,” says Alexis Ohanian. The self-described grandfather of the virtual influencer Qai Qai told that to the New York Times as part of an article on computer-generated influencers, inspired by a Calvin Klein commercial that features a kiss between supermodel Bella Hadid and Miquela Sousa, who, despite having 1.6 million Instagram followers, was born on a motherboard. “Social media, to date, has largely been the domain of real humans being fake,” Ohanian added. “But avatars are a future of storytelling.”

AI is influencing everything and forward-looking companies are exploring myriad ways to harness the fast-evolving technology. Several SXSW 2019 panels explored how to make AI work for business.

Optimizing Marketing Workflow with AI and Automation
At the core of many successful campaigns is a powerful, highly engaging, and visual experience. Campaigns like these require a lot of work, skill, and coordination by digital marketers, brand managers, content owners, and often agencies. Teams need to be vigilant in finding ways to improve their workflow and deliver measurable outcomes that are driving business objectives. Can human intelligence and AI work together to bridge the gap between efficient workflows and generating real business value? This panel of marketers and technologists debates the current state of the marketing workflow and the role of AI in optimizing and automating the process for developing creative content.

Taxonomy: Hero of AI, Bots, Voice Search and Retail
Companies are scrambling to get content ready for advanced applications and user interfaces like voice search and chatbots. The principles you need to make content voice-, AI-, and future-ready quickly aren’t new, however: They are rooted in information architectures like taxonomies and ontologies. Find out how your existing structured content can help shortcut your effort to take advantage of the latest technology.

How AI Will Impact Organizational Structures
Just like the internet did post-Netscape, AI is forcing change in organizational structures and the creation of new roles. As AI creates new revenue opportunities, it drives operational change. The technology will also require your team, customers and suppliers to work with AI systems that augment their decisions. Learn how others have readied themselves for these changes. Panelists share lessons learned and advice on things to consider including issues with ethics and bias.

Rise of Augmented Intelligence and the Query-Able Brand
The next wave of consumer engagement transformation is happening at the intersection of Augmented Intelligence technology and brand expression. Intelligent platforms are changing the way we engage with customers. With a strategic combination of creativity and technology, we can now capture consumer intent and finally deliver on the digital promise of one-to-one customer relationships. This conversation explore how AI technologies give us the power to scale these solutions to drive tremendous value to customers and the business.

RIP Websites, the End is Nigh
Innovation drives technology forward, so what do you do when one of the industry’s biggest advancements, the website, is failing us? Simple, you kill it. In this session, Alex Spinelli, Chief Technology Officer at LivePerson and former global head of Alexa OS for Amazon, speaks to how conversational commerce through AI will kill the website, and revolutionize the digital economy to capture nearly 90 percent of industry sales in the future. He shares insights gleaned from working with some of the biggest global brands, like AMEX, T-Mobile, The Home Depot and Citibank, and how they are evolving based on consumer needs and preferences to meet demand of having a deeper relationship — a conversational relationship — with them.

How AI Is Changing Advertising in China
Advertising in China is at the front lines in AI adoption and innovation. The majority of ad spend in China is already digital, and AI-based advertising thrives on the massive datasets available in China for number crunching and automation. The key driver for AI in advertising is China’s hyper-competitive ecommerce market, which is more than double the size of its US counterpart. China-based startups use AI to analyze, categorize, and rank influencers, creating an open, blockchain-based, micropayments marketplace that can include everyone on social media. China’s white hot AI advertising applications can serve as roadmaps and spark ideas in other industries that are just beginning to move through the AI learning curve.

AI-AI-Oh!: How Top Companies Create Training Data
AI is all the rage. It’s time to go build the next amazing AI product. But how do you actually DO that? In this session, industry leaders discuss ways to generate training data: from existing business lines, to crowdsourcing or user activity tracking, paying for generation, and other creative options. They cover these models, how the data is being used, and what this means for you and your business.

AI in Retail: How to Do It Right and What’s Next
As AI begins to come of age, virtually every device and application becomes a way for people to communicate with brands. Retailers are challenged with building and deploying omni-channel AI solutions to converse naturally with customers to increase online and in-store sales as well as improve customer experience. Hear from experts as they give their advice on implementing technology that provides a natural, responsive, and enjoyable experience for customers. They also share their expectations for what’s to come, and predictions for the next frontier of AI in the retail industry.

HR to Bots: Job Displacement in the Time of AI
HR is undergoing massive transformation. New apps, sites, solutions and software crop up every day, all promising a more efficient world. That’s the positive side. The other side is the rise of “Terminator”-esque technologies, including AI and bots. At what point will these innovative systems stop being helpful and start displacing humans? How should conscientious HR professionals preserve the delicate balance between human-centered approaches and data-driven insights? Can and should AI advancements be regulated and if so, by whom? This session will give you survival tips on how to thrive through current changes in the HR field while getting ready for the future of work.

AI Will Control Employees by Design or Accident
Organizations are learning to use data to extract more value from their assets, including labor. Meanwhile, labor is learning to navigate the increasing disintermediation of said organizations by optimizing for dynamic, antagonistic innovation. There’s a third path: human-centric analytics to align the behaviors and values of an organizations’ participants for mutual benefit. The computers aren’t going away: here’s how we can all play nice. Hear from Josh Klein, of H4X Industries, who started as a hacker in his parent’s basement and ended up working with leaders at the upper echelon of business, government, and internet security. From black market economies to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, from the radical departures in exchange and marketing enabled by Big Data to the as-yet-unrealized analytic capabilities of Cloud Computing, Klein has specialized in translating these insights into actionable strategies for business leaders.

The Future of Supermarkets and Retail
2019 is the year of grocery disruption and mainstream omni-channel shopping. In this landscape, tight margins, high perishability, and heavy reliance on promotions mean that forecast accuracy is paramount. Legacy players cannot keep up with the speed of change driven by modern tech giants. Rubikloud CEO Kerry Liu discusses how AI and machine learning help retailers fight technology with technology and offer shoppers the convenience and personalization they crave.

More Memories from SXSW 2019
Public Interest AI
Change is Coming
Urban Mobility
It’s Time for Sports!
Saving the Ocean
Military Matters
Women’s Health
Social Media Power
Telling New Media Stories
Marvel’s Magic
Future Health
May the Fourth
Women in Tech
Growing Unicorns
Thriving at Work
Making a Difference
Fighting Fake News
Disaster Response
Hacking Democracy
Pete Buttigieg
Kara Swisher
Arlan Hamilton

Do these audio recordings inspire you to get involved in a SXSW session next year? Enter your forward-thinking speaking proposal for March 2020 via the SXSW PanelPicker. Speaking proposals for next year’s event are accepted via this interface from July 1 through July 19.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.




Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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Hugh Forrest

Hugh Forrest

Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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