SXSW 2024: Trend watch from U.S. Bank experts

March 20, 2024

Innovation team members report back from annual technology, business and culture gathering in Austin, Texas

Members of the U.S. Bank Innovation team once again descended on Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest. The team attended countless sessions, participated in events, and interacted with some of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators about major topics in society today. 

Throughout the week, Innovation team members saw many of the emerging trends they follow – such as AI, connected ecosystems, spatial computing and biotech, among others – accelerating, converging and creating astounding new capabilities that will change lives. Key takeaways on these topics include: 

  • Artificial intelligence: While AI was the most represented topic across sessions, a common theme was that it will be a driving force for productivity through the rest of the decade and will be most useful in tandem with humans, not in place of them. However, companies are currently grappling with the challenges of how to apply AI safely, responsibly and equitably.

  • Connected ecosystems: Connected ecosystems, including connectable devices, robotics and Web3, garnered a lot of attention at SXSW because they portend the ability of AI to learn from people and the physical world using more than just language. Large action models are emerging on the heels of large language models in generative AI – which means more than just the next best word, AI models will help people with next best action. 

  • Spatial computing: Presenters and participants pointed to accelerating work in spatial computing, thanks in part to Apple’s launch of its Vision Pro, as well as emerging work in brain-computer interfaces. While everyone agreed there is more work to be done, this could lead to the much-anticipated future where human-computer interaction will become more natural, immersive and ambient, combining the best of physical and virtual worlds. 

  • Biotech: Many presenters pointed to an inflection point in biotech, thanks to such breakthroughs as CRISPR and its success in creating disease vaccines and the first FDA-approved gene therapy to treat patients with Sickle Cell disease. Biocomputing and bioengineering are converging with AI and other trends, and they look set to transform medicine, agriculture, materials, climate and many other industries in the coming years.   

While the Innovation team follows a wide array of trends, technologies and industries, all of these ultimately have ties back to banking, investing and payments. There are opportunities from these developments that will lead to better solutions, better services and more conveniences for those who rely on U.S. Bank as a trusted hub for their financial lives. These new capabilities will also require careful planning and preventative mitigation to harvest the opportunities and avoid the threats.

Led by Head of Applied Foresights Todder Moning, the SXSW participants take back their learnings to teams across the bank to help inform the way they think, ideate and work to create new experiences and financial solutions for clients and team members. 

“At U.S. Bank, we are committed to making peoples’ lives better, in ways small and large,” Todder said. “The future either gets ‘made by’ or ‘happens to’ people, and we get to choose. That’s why we take foresights-driven future safaris – to get out of our offices and learn about the newest and best of what a diverse collection of people, companies, industries and communities are doing.”

As part of this year’s SXSW experience, the bank sponsored the Fintech House. This gathering spot saw a mix of founders, investors, ecosystem builders and corporate partners – all of which help U.S. Bank be a trusted partner to its communities, provide support to new ideas as they’re brought to life and be well positioned to meet future needs.

Technology continues to erase barriers between industries, showing the art of possible and guiding the bank to best understand what its clients, team members and communities expect from them – ultimately, helping U.S. Bank create the future now.

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