It’s SXSW time here in sunny/rain-drenched Austin, Texas (depending on the day…or hour…). While some of the more timid individuals are staying inside, clinging to their gadgets and staying out of the elements, a heartier wave of tech enthusiasts are taking it to the streets. The average SXSW badge holder has access to a vast array of opportunities and exclusive events. Most attendees are tech professionals or aspiring start-up entrepreneurs looking to gain any advantage over the competition. However, today we will not be discussing the events that make SXSW famous, but rather an interesting phenomenon developing on the streets themselves.
Amidst the numerous start-ups offering apps that allow anything from carpool arrangements to pre-event planning, there are a surprising number of professional-grade apps. Even more surprising is the fact that these have been drawing even more interest than the consumer apps.
One interesting online application, Musicmetric, is still in beta but generating lots of interest. No cool swag was offered at the event (though their beer coasters were rather well designed), yet the event was packed. Musicmetric is an app that allows people to create profiles of musical artists and then track their relative popularity via a number of interesting metrics, including how often they are illegally downloaded. When I asked the representative who the target audience of the product was, he answered professional artists, producers, and music industry types, in general. I could be wrong, but looking around the audience, very few people seemed to meet that criteria, yet everyone was fascinated by this new bit of tech.
More and more individuals are becoming “prosumers,” and not just people looking to make money off of their work. One of the best examples recently is Apple’s “Final Cut Pro X” software. Despite the fact that it is one of the most expensive applications offered in the Mac App Store at $299, it is also one of the most popular, currently the 11th most popular app available. Of course, that price is significantly less expensive than it’s $1,000+ predecessors. Obviously, not every consumer of that product is an industry professional.
For companies, this is generally a positive new reality that encourages individuals to be more creative-minded. Average consumers now have the ability to afford and implement previously inaccessible software, and as a result, many are developing skills that they would otherwise be unable to cultivate.
For instance, in the past if Debbie from accounting wanted to try her hand at video editing, odds are her company wouldn’t spring for the software unless she had some prior training. However, the availability of affordable software and free training on YouTube now means that Debbie doesn’t need to ask company permission, she can do it on her own.
This new phenomenon means that employees with diverse and creative skill sets can take on new challenges within your company, with little or no investment at all on your part. Just as employees are utilizing their own devices at work, the prosumer trend encourages employees to use professional apps and improve their skills in areas that benefit them both at work and home. The lines are blurring as people become less-defined by their job or employer, and rather see themselves as an independent professional with an ever-evolving skill set. Smart employers will encourage this initiative.