Austin is the capital city of the great state of Texas and, for 10 days in March, the home of thousands of creative minds from around the world for SXSW (South by Southwest). SXSW, or "South by" as many refer to it, is a convergence of creativity where thought leaders from music, film and interactive converge to meet, learn and share ideas.

My journey to SXSW started in early February with a request to join a panel on the Internet of Things and how we’re bringing it to life with Coca-Cola Vending. I recall thinking that attendance would be very light at a 9 a.m. panel on a Saturday morning in a city known for great nightlife. But, 40 days later, I quickly realized I was wrong when I walked into a ballroom with a few hundred well-caffeinated attendees eager to learn.

Many people think of vending machines simply as "equipment", but Coca-Cola Vending represents the retail store of the world’s most loved beverage brands. With millions of locations around the world on nearly every continent, our Internet of Things is vast. But it’s not just scale; we vend more than 100 beverages globally every second, delivering unmatched frequency. It’s when you combine incredible scale and frequency that the potential value for the Internet of Things becomes remarkable.

Coca-Cola Vending is well positioned to realize that value from a connected smart-fleet that calls home every day, to delivering seamless payment and loyalty with mobile wallets, and a digital content platform enabled to deliver messaging that’s personally relevant and immediately useful.  

One of my favorite experiences involves making the most of an evening trip to the gym. Imagine that you’re on your way in and you pass by a Coca-Cola vending machine. Utilizing bluetooth beacons and mobile wallet technology, we can understand if it’s your first time passing by that machine that day and deliver a message that Powerade can give you the energy and hydration you need to make the most of your workout. When you’re finished working out, we can use that same beacon to deliver a message about how Core Power can make the most of your recovery by delivering protein to maximize your gains. With such personal messages, we make the transaction seamless with your smartphone where a single tap enables you to pay and earn rewards.

That’s just one example of how we’re going to harness the Internet of Things and our brands to enrich the lives of millions. But it’s only the beginning, with the incredible minds at Coca-Cola and those at SXSW we are well-suited to redefine greatness everyday.

Hope you’ll join me in Austin next year.

Derek Myers is group director, strategy and commercialization, Coca-Cola North America.