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The greatest challenge of our industry is the constant tension between fundamentals and future-state.
As marketers, we’re tasked with defining the opportunity in emerging spaces while being the constant champions of best practices and basics. (Anyone else written 3,752 POVs about the metaverse, AI, Clubhouse, TikTok while simultaneously drafting “social video 101” decks? . . . just me?). We don’t just seek new information because we love to learn. We do it because it’s our job to know, understand, inform, teach, translate, and activate.
In March, MIMA headed down to Austin, TX to participate in the SXSW Interactive conference. If you haven’t heard of it, picture thousands of people from all over the world coming together to hear from the brightest minds and biggest stars in tech, engineering, gaming, marketing, entertainment, and innovation. It’s the biggest BrainFest* you’ve ever seen.
(And yes, we threw a big party with The Social Lights to bring all the Minnesotans together while we were there but that’s beside the point)
While at SXSW, I heard optimistic and catastrophic outlooks for our world from famed futurist and all star MIMA Summit speaker Amy Webb. OpenAI Co-founder Greg Brockman shared his vision for AI’s role in innovation and how it would be moderated against bias and bad actors (spoiler alert: it’s our job, not theirs). Data scientists and product innovation lab leaders and environmental innovators and Google’s leading expert on Explainability, and YES a celebrity or two. All sharing their vision for the future.
Throughout the forward-facing narratives about technology and innovation leading the way, there was this underlying current: fundamentals are the backbone of disruption.
Take this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. From the very start, it was filled with talks of teams disrupting the system, unexpected winners, and can-you-believe-they-made-it moments. But for all the talk about bracket busting and underdogs disrupting the outcomes, two legacy teams took home the hardware: LSU and UConn. Take your shot, sure. But know that great programs that emphasize the building blocks will always have a leg up.
Our industry is the same. As speakers at SXSW dug deeper into how machine learning was powering their work, they all noted that the outcome was only as good as the source data it’s learning from. Generative AI experts reminded the audience that our ability to leverage the technology properly still hinges on the ability to use written words to craft a prompt with precision and purpose. And creative opportunity is often defined by the quality of the source image and the basic specs of the platforms it will occupy.
So, why am I telling you?
Because we’re all called to keep our tools sharp. It’s part of the reason I joined the MIMA programming team 10 years ago. And even though a lot has changed in our industry over the last 10 years (not to mention since MIMA’s creation 25 years ago), there’s even more that has stayed the same. Am I saying we get it 100% right? HECK no. But the real magic is in the effort.
Here are the top five takeaways from SXSW:
- Treat your audience with respect by understanding them.
- Understand the platforms and playgrounds you design for.
- Communicate with focus and clarity, regardless of the channel you’re using.
- Focus on the process and progress will follow.
- Don’t lose your most powerful gift: curiosity.
It’s not the flashy, innovation-forward list you wanted, but it’s the boring-ass basics we all needed. It’s the vegetables alongside the “future of generative AI” cupcake dinner. And it’s exactly what you can expect to see from MIMA in the months ahead.
What fundamentals are you focusing on this year? Drop us a line and let us know
* not affiliated with the real life BrainFest in Baltimore