SXSW 2016: Developers’ Collective Role in a Connected World

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In case you haven’t heard, it’s been a busy few months in the tech world. I’m just returning from Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, where I had the chance to hold a discussion with the developer community on the urgent and ethical need for them to protect their users’ data and physical security in our increasingly connected world. As the manufacturing of the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to explode, more than ten million software developers around the world have the responsibility to ensure security and privacy are at the core of their design and development processes, while simultaneously responding to user demands.


SXSW is known to bring together some of the biggest names in culture, technology, and innovation. For its 30th anniversary, the festival brought out everyone from the Head of State and the First Lady to culture creators from Hollywood and Silicon Valley, to software developers representing the newest startups to multinational enterprises.

Here are some of my key observations at SXSW this year:

  • The mainstream adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), one of the key themes of the festival, attracted an ever increasing number of players across industries. CapitalOne showcased the financial service industry’s first ever integration into Amazon Echo platform. Retail fast food chain McDonald’s had an IoT themed startup competition event at SXSW with a stated goal of “enabling IoT in our 14,000 US stores and kitchens helps us to better know and understand consumer behavior”. Of course, technology headliners such as IBM, NTT, Amazon, Samsung, and more brought IoT innovation to the main stage.
  • The rise of augmented and virtual reality: Compared to previous years, there seemed to be fewer people at SXSW staring into their mobile phones. But that’s only because of the onslaught of AR/VR headgear spotted throughout the festival. 2016 clearly seems to be the year where this immersive technology is finding more mainstream use cases in industries such as travel, logistics, healthcare, and gaming.
  • Mobility and the “sharing economy”: This year it was less about standalone mobile apps such as Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, but a lot more about how these innovative services are blending to create a highly personalized, location-specific services that are creating a unique shared economy
  • The global nature of innovation: All credit is due to the SXSW organizers for grouping exhibiting startups by geography. I was pleasantly surprised to see innovative startups from every nook of the globe. As a device enthusiast myself, I spent a lot of time with startups from Japan, Korea, and China where I found IoT, sensor-rich applications of technology. One in particular that I came across was the Baby Smile Explorer from Japan, a startup that promises to leverage sensors, GPS, big data and IOT tech capture and predict your baby’s smiles.

To me, the main takeaway this year was around the rapid transformation towards a digital experience: one that is immersive, personal in nature and global in scale. A digital experience that’s enriched by pervasive mobile technology, highly localized and leveraging real-time data collected by sensors that power an Internet of Things. It could be a connected car, a smart building or a smart manufacturing plant at the core is a software-driven innovation that transcends the touch points across our personal, workplace and global community. So at SXSW, whether it was President Obama call to “create systems that make government more responsive”, or Amazon Web Services (AWS) CTO Werner Vogel highlighting that “security should be the #1 design requirement”, or my own talk urging IoT software developers to take a Hippocratic oath to help build a securely connected world, we found a common thread. It all points to an ever-increasing ethical responsibility that innovators have in an today’s digitally connected world.

It has already been a very special year at AppDynamics: The convergence of mobile, web and IoT applications that I have experienced at SXSW underscore our clear vision of an end-to-end application intelligence and highlight the software-driven digital transformation journey that we are sharing with our customers and partners.

Prathap Dendi

Prathap Dendi

Prathap Dendi is the General Manager for Business iQ at AppDynamics, extending its market-leading application intelligence solutions to the next frontiers of digital transformation. Prior to AppDynamics, Prathap was Vice President, General Manager at Electric Cloud, a DevOps market leader, where he helped incubate DevOps and Multi-Domain Continuous Delivery across hardware and software ecosystems. Prior to that Prathap held leadership roles at IBM incubating SOA and Cloud platforms.