While SXSW isn’t where tech launches, it’s where it typically gets key momentum. Twitter. FourSquare. Vine. Meerkat. While none of these launch at SXSW, they all gained their initial momentum here. This year is a little bit different, the key topic of discussion in panels this year isn’t a single application, but a much broader piece of technology – artificial intelligence (AI), and rather than gaining momentum people are talking about how they’ve been using it for some time. But first things first – how did we get here?

According to Inmar Givoni, there were three key factors:

1. The increasingly widespread availability of hardware: while we’ve historically been limited by the amount of computing power that we can afford to buy, access to cloud-based servers (also known as “someone else’s computer”) means that it is now possible for companies, including startups, to scale up to the required level of computations that AI requires both quickly and cost-efficiently.

2. Massive amounts of training data: while it is essential to AI to have access to machines with sufficient computational power, all the hardware in the world will be for naught without training data. Lots and lots and lots of training data. With people increasingly storing their files in the cloud, and importantly with people tagging those items with meta data (everything from descriptions of their cat photos to the genre of the songs in their music collection) there has been sufficient data for companies to develop their AI programs (so that’s how Facebook recognizes my friends when I upload photos of them!).

3. The availability of software and algorithms: while one size does’t fit all, the sheer volume of software products and services that are now available off the (virtual) shelf have again lowered barriers to entry in the implementation of AI.

While AI is being applied many areas, Converseon is a clear leader in applying this technology to social listening and voice of customer data.   By using an active learning model supplied by million of meticulous human coded records generated over more than 10 years, our technology – called ConveyAPI – is a powerful solution to decipher and understand these complex discussions and language in critically important ways.  ConveyAPI was named Dataweek’s Top Innovator in Social Data Mining and can be used directly through an associated platforms (“Conversus”), through select ecosystem partners and as a compliment to most social listening platforms.   The data analysis picks up where most social listening platforms stop to provide not precise sentiment but also emotion, intensity and custom classifiers like advocacy, purchase intent, and more.    So yes, while AI has indeed become a key buzzword and topic at SXSW, we (and our clients) can attest to its power when applied in this area.