The resounding theme of SXSW ’21 was acceleration dimensionalized by humanity. The pandemic required acceleration across all categories, companies, and emerging technologies. But it also brought humanity to the surface.

Our four key takeaways:

Be Immersive

This year, digital and physical worlds merged in real time. Gaming took center stage, providing new forms of entertainment and a platform for retail. Now, consumers will expect a shopping experience that’s live, virtual, and interactive. Look for new ways to scale all the A’s, V’s, and X’s of reality.

Be Inclusive

Creative media plays a huge role in the perceptions we have of one another. Platforms like TikTok invite people with different backgrounds and beliefs to share views and ideas. Follow these tech leaders by using creative media to spark inclusivity. Bring people together and share light even when the world seems dark.

Invest in Human Capital

The “data, data, data” mindset has led to invaluable, albeit flat, customer profiles, but the pandemic encouraged brands to dimensionalize data and digital experiences. Continue the trend by talking to people, not profiles. Challenge your brands to go beyond the data with storytelling, emotional AI, decisions, avatars, and mixed realities.


Diverse perspectives lead to innovation. Focus on diversity of thought to discover new ways to approach problems. New approaches will lead to new metrics like emotional responses, stronger emphasis on engagement, time spent, and brand trust. What could be more human than trust?

Contributors: Preston Barrett, Cheryl Huckabay, Kate Hubbard, Ale Lee, Scott Luther, Kat Mogongwa, and Sarah Rivers