Technology innovation is at the forefront of driving change in most industries these days. Whether it’s financial services, automobiles, home entertainment, healthcare or a plethora of other verticals, cutting-edge tech is changing how people live their lives.

One of the top places where this global tech innovation is showcased each year is the South by Southwest festival – or just ‘SX’ for those who’ve been – in the great city of Austin, TX (I suppose we’re a bit biased!)

This year, our very own Founder & CEO, Harvey Hudes, is an advisory board member for SXSW Pitch (formerly SXSW Accelerator), an event where some of the most cutting-edge startups around the world present their technology to a panel of expert judges in front of a live audience. In this role, Harvey and a number of experts across various industries have been focused on evaluating hundreds of applications over the last few months to determine the companies that will present in March. Earlier this week, the official finalist list for SXSW Pitch was revealed!

As we look forward to our time at SX this March, we’ve come up with a few of the trends we’ll be looking out for at SXSW Pitch:

Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence – Both of these are first-time categories at this year’s event and are among the most buzzed about technologies today. The applications for AI are myriad; a lot of the talk is around virtual assistants, but AI and machine learning are being implemented to analyze vast amounts of data, create autonomous safety systems and provide business insights.

Blockchain, meanwhile, has long since moved from an infrastructure to trade cryptocurrency, and some forward-looking firms are experimenting with it to manage and streamline supply chains, manage machinery and even power genome sequencing. Both AI and blockchain promise to be among the most exciting categories at this year’s event.

Data and analytics – The volume of data created continues to rise exponentially, and businesses in virtually every sector are investing in tools to help them manage this explosion of information. Data analytics tools can, of course, be used for business intelligence and gleaning meaningful customer insight, but also to help emergency managers make quick decisions during disasters and even to help scientists conduct research more efficiently. This is another area to keep a keen eye on.

Financial services – Of course, fintech hasn’t gone anywhere and is still at the forefront of most discussions about innovation and technology. In fact, as the space evolves we are moving farther away from the early “disruptor” days and into what some are calling Fintech 2.0. This involves more partnerships and collaboration between financial institutions and tech startups, and a focus on the end-to-end customer journey as opposed to individual, monoline services. Many innovative fintech efforts now are geared toward providing easy-to-use tools for customers that help them manage their financial lives better. We’ll be looking out for some fascinating fintech discussions at SXSW Pitch.

Out of the 800+ applications that were entered into this year’s SXSW Pitch event, the 50 companies taking the stage represent the cream of the crop. Be sure to check out the full list of finalists, and we hope to see you in Austin this March!