Google Cloud Next descended on Moscone Center this week. With Sköna HQ mere steps away, we took it upon ourselves to do some field reconnaissance, taking in the atmosphere around the 18,000-attendee event. Here’s what we noticed from the hustle and bustle.

AI looms large

In not-so-shocking news, AI dominated the proceedings. Whether in Google’s own creative or storefront pop ups from companies like GitLab and Virtusa (more on those later!), the possibilities of AI to improve processes, increase efficiencies, and transform industries was on full display – with a special focus on how it can be leveraged with existing tools. AI’s fast, it’s powerful… and everyone’s using or doing something with it right now (and they want you to know about it). That puts a premium on standing out – and the companies who did went big, bold, and clear with activations, placements, and messaging.

An authentic legacy

First, a huge round of applause to the team at Google for a creative (and musical!) developer keynote. They bravely executed an idea that could have gone very, very wrong and stuck the landing, using actual devs to do it. By committing to authenticity, they bookended the technical content effectively, created a great hook for a less technical audience, and made the theme of legacy (playing on both legacy tech or building your own) more resonant.

Experiencing experiential

We’ve all read the headlines: Downtown is dead, and all that remains is a wasteland of empty offices, shuttered smoothie shops, and closed commercial spaces. Reports of San Francisco’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but there are spaces to take advantage of – and with great clickbait comes great opportunities. Creative thinkers took advantage of vacancies around Moscone Center to cement their presence and messaging with storefront pop ups. We explored three alone in a one-block vicinity around the conference venue – each an opportunity for attendees to delve deeper, ask questions, and create traction to strengthen an existing customer relationship, or potentially take the next step with a new vendor.

What does it all mean?

Google Cloud Next reinforced the importance of authenticity and creative risks in order to stand out in a crowd – especially when everyone is talking about the same thing. Whether covering the topic of the moment, showcasing new offerings, or deepening relationships through experiences, unique stories help cultivate brands that people love and believe in.

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