Presently we are in a rare time in so many businesses.
Resources are being pushed to the brink and the proper allocation of these resources often needs to be called into question.
Putting your business on automatic pilot is no longer an option.
As daunting as the challenges can feel, we have new opportunities to make our engagement with our fans and customers more meaningful.
This opportunity allows those of us in this position to stand out from the pack.
What is the one theme that can propel this opportunity?
Two simple words.
If you are struggling to barely meet expectations in this challenging time you need to fix this immediately.
Once you have the basics under control you have to ascertain how to exceed expectations.
For your customers.
For your audience.
For your employees.
Figure out ways to deepen your relationship with customers so they don’t see you as someone that only calls when you are chasing down money.
How can you better serve them during good and bad times?
Is there a new partner that you can connect them with that might make a difference in their business world?
Can you help them understand what campaigns worked and what didn’t work and why?
These are ways to exceed their expectations.
I’m sure you can brainstorm other ways.
How can you exceed expectations with your audience and surprise and delight them in the process?
Loyalty by your audience SHOULD have its privileges and exceeding expectations for them increases the likelihood that your word of mouth will increase as well.
The same goes for your relationship with your employees.
Imagine a workforce where individuals regularly figured out how to offer to help fellow co-workers before they had to ask.
That’s a world of exceeding expectations.
Word of mouth is such a vital force whether you are dealing with customers, your audience or your employees.
By living in a world of exceeding expectations, you can unleash the word of mouth to set you apart.
As leaders it is increasingly important to place a high value in your organization to exceeding expectations.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski from Duke always has a great handle on this: “The thing I loved the most and still love the most about teaching is that you can connect with an individual or a group and see that individual or group exceed their limits.”
The Consumer Technology Association has just put the wraps on CES 2021 and the event couldn’t have come at a better time for many of us associated with the show.
Every year we look forward to the trek to Las Vegas, to see the future and the CTA deserves immense credit for making the first ever virtual happening a success.
CTA made history with the event becoming the largest Digital Tech industry event ever with almost 2000 exhibitors participating.
To say that the event has evolved over the years, especially including this “pivot” year would be an understatement.
Back in 1967, when the event first started in NY there were 14 exhibitors.
Last year in Vegas there were 4000 exhibitors and over 170,000 attendees.
CES always plays a pivotal role in helping us see the cutting edge of the future.
That’s why we love the event so much!
The 70’s at CES brought us an innovation called the VCR.
The 80’s brought us the Camcorder.
The 90’s brought us the DVD.
The 2000’s brought us the X Box.
Just to put the more recent times in perspective at CES it was 2008 the Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates laid out his company’s roadmap for something called “The Cloud.”
What a journey thanks to CES it has been.
So where did the journey take us in 2021 and what were some key takeaways for us to take back to our teams?
Let’s break it down:
Resilience was a key theme the technology business should be incredibly proud out.
The unexpected event occurred and innovation pressed forward in so many dynamic aspects of the business.
Pivoting became one of the most overused keywords during the pandemic as entire industry categories needed to evaluate the strategy they had locked into place some time ago.
Julie Sweet the CEO of Accenture coined the term “compressed disruption” as she pointed out the need for leaders of today to have “the courage and willingness to rethink their game plan.”
Leadership traits by key executives and CEO’s of major companies are being pushed to the brink during this crisis and its valuable to note some key examples of success that have brought businesses together to survive and thrive.
Gary Shapiro the CEO of CTA is a great example in his role of bringing a global force together for CES this year and making the experience valuable and worthwhile.
The new CEO/Corie Barry of Best Buy is another great example as well.
There are many examples.
Her quote on leadership says it well: “My job is to create conditions for other people to be successful.”
Social Responsibility is always a theme at CES but this year it seemed to take on new meaning.
This took on a variety of meanings for various companies at CES, for example:
Bosch is committed to making a difference with the immense challenge of climate change and states as a priority reducing CO2 emissions in their factories.
Samsung spoke about sustainability and doing what is right and better for the planet.
General Motors is all in on electric vehicles and zero emissions.
It seems when the pandemic first hit most brands pushed hard on the notion of a purpose driven message and the hope is that this is truly a long term commitment to making our world a better place.
Personalization of the customer experience is always front and center at CES and this year is no exception.
This is a key area the radio business has still not figured out how to attack in mass and other industries have made it a priority.
Some specific examples are: Ford-and the personalization involved with their voice technology that allows for more conversational speech patterns, Mercedes Benz and their MBUX Entertainment system that has a fully intuitive user interface and Samsung with the various ways that allow you to customize your living space and personalize their services.
Iteration has always been a part of the innovation roadmap and the necessity in the last year for brands to incorporate this into their operational process has been key.
Some trial and error to see what sticks is a foundation to breaking new ground for success and leaders needed to have their sensors ready so they could maximize performance.
The Feedback Loop has never been more important for technology leaders and marketers in 2021 and we saw this in action at CES.
Staying close to employees while distance was mandatory took on new meaning and brands needed to stay especially close to what their customers are thinking.
This remains a key opportunity and priority for the radio sector.
Lastly, Brand Differentiation pops into my head as a big challenge for the Consumer Technology business as it is for the radio business.
In so many cases, it is hard to specifically define for a brand what flag they are planting to be known for.
As an example, the Digital Health category is crowded with self administered personal wellness products that all feel like one big blur to me.
Radio often faces the same challenge when it comes to what makes specific brands special and unique.
Thanks to Radio Ink for letting me pass on what I “saw” from the Virtual CES 2021.
Looking forward to the long lines and the sensory overload next year in Vegas!
There are always many story lines that unfold at CES that provide valuable insights, no matter what business you are in.
Here is a breakdown of the show to date:
The CEO’s And Their Messaging
Always an insightful part of the show as many of the exhibitor CEO’s not only lay out important priorities for their companies, new product lines and key leadership themes for their belief systems.
CEO Corie Barry from Best Buy is at the top of the list for her authentic messaging as a new leader during a pandemic.
As Corie said “Everything accelerated when the pandemic hit and we needed to realize as far as our customer base that the customer is in control as far as where they want it, when they want it and how they want it. Personalization of service is key and the consumer is in control.”
In her view the pandemic accelerated what the future of retail will look like and things that would have taken weeks or months to create and act upon Had to happen immediately.
Iteration became an important trait of Best Buy and it was critical that they had an excellent feedback loop with their employees and customers so they could adjust accordingly.
Purpose driven leadership became equally important for them to double down on and Corrie believes more than ever that leadership should consist of inclusive traits such as vulnerability, empathy, courage and grace.
Lastly, when asked what she has learned during this time she said “Embrace that there is no playbook for so many scenarios that crop up.”
Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg presented his company’s mission for the various currencies of 5G and what they will bring to consumers and business stakeholders in the years to come.
He spoke about how 5G will advance the future of Smart Cities and how they are partnering with UPS to improve the efficiencies of the delivery business.
Additionally, he highlighted their “Pay it Forward Live” music series in conjunction with Snapchat which was made possible by 5G technology with a special guest appearance by The Black Pumas.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra focused her presentation on her company’s major commitment to Electric with an aggressive playbook for multiple car brands.
A common theme for many brands that are exhibiting at CES is personalization and Mary Barra talked about this at multiple moments by talking about “the focus on you” as they dealing with the changing face of the car consumer.
As companies have been challenged with advancing initiatives during the “new normal” she brought out Kyle Vogt/Co-Founder and CTO of Cruise which is GM’s partner autonomous company to talk about the previous year of evolution.
The encouraging storyline is that Cruise grew significantly during the pandemic as their autonomous pilot programs in San Francisco and Scottsdale Arizona continued to evolve.
They have a delivery partnership with Walmart in the works and GM has also diversified their revenue portfolio with a vertical called “BrightDrop” which will be a logistics focused electric delivery unit.
So what are the key brand messaging themes that we are hearing from CES 2021?
First and foremost of course the pandemic has been on every brands mind as they react to the new world.
As Fred Jacobs put it on his excellent Virtual CES tour “the pandemic pivot has been on the mind of many of the brands here on display.”
Samsung has branded their company as “Better Normal for All”, Kohler when talking about their smart home technology says “we want to make consumers life simpler and easier” and LG says “the meaning of home has changed.”
Another big brand messaging theme that has permeated the show has been Artificial Intelligence/AI.
The best description that I heard around consumer technology came from tech guru Shawn Dubravac, who accompanied the Jacobs Media Virtual Tour and said “AI is about making prediction cheap.”
As Digital Health Care has been an exploding category during the pandemic you are seeing numerous AI applications in that world like:
Axir Engine-which comes from Axion Research and is the first AI powered disease risk engine and is early cancer detection technology.
Imedisync-which is an AI powered digital mental health care platform provider.
And Nuralogix-which has an AI powered product called Anura which is an app that positions itself as your personal wellness app that can measure all of your vitals.
The key question with all of these significant advancements is will they ever get FDA approval to help their go to market strategy?
CES is all about pushing the boundaries of innovation and it is great to see so many companies have been tremendously active during lockdown.
I expect CES 2022 to showcase even greater advancements in our technology world to improve life and solve business problems.
As CES 2021 is just beginning with Monday’s Press Day, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the virtual event.
Would it purely resemble a Zoom or Microsoft Teams appointment?
Would there be that presentation sizzle we have grown to expect from the big brands who are participating?
Would I miss the endless cab lines?
I’m here to tell you at first blush that the Consumer Technology Association has done a great job in keeping with the show biz vibe.
Additionally, the big brands as expected have invested in the look and sizzle of their press conferences and keynotes as well.
Let’s agree we don’t miss the cab lines for sure although I do miss the random connections you make while in the que.
To give us more perspective on what to look forward to I called upon my friend Ben Arnold/Industry Analyst from the NPD Group.
A few years back I was privileged to interview Ben at the Radio Ink Forecast Event and his wisdom is much appreciated!
BK: What are the key central themes you expect to come out of CES 2021?
BA :I think we will see a lot around 5G. Over the last 3 years at CES, 5G has been a story, but mostly around infrastructure and explaining the technology- “what will this new technology do once it gets here”. This year we have several major 5G phones already in the market, so I think the conversation will transaction to applications and what consumers can do with 5G. That’s exciting- to have more actual product demonstrations of what 5G can do.
Given the year we have been through, I also believe we will see technology that is a product of our current situation. Health and wellness will take centerstage this year in a way we have not seen. Solutions for keeping people safely at a distance (maybe via smartphone apps) or allowing them to see doctors remotely from the comfort of the home. Lastly, I think automotive and autonomous mobility will be another big story this year (as it is each year) for a related reasons- that this idea of movement and commuting has totally changed for people- and how might that change the way we think about autonomous vehicles.
BK: For an event that is so sensory, how will CTA pull off a virtual affair?
BA: I love the content each year at CES- the panels, presentations, keynotes. This year I think attendees will have more opportunity to take in all this great stuff that they can’t get to for some reason (presumably because they are like me, speed walking through the hall to a meeting). Also, everyone gets to experience CES from their homes- a new experience. I’m ready to embrace this year’s edition. I know how dedicated everyone at CTA is to CES so I have no doubt the show will be great this year.
BK: Do you anticipate any new innovations will surface this year that may have been spurned on due to the pandemic?
BA: Key themes around safety and proximity (how can people connect and engage but do so at a distance from each other) and telehealth will be the biggest pandemic connected stories. Something like contact tracing, which is done via apps on smartphones, is a technology solution to the pandemic. And work, many of us have spent months now working from home- I’m looking for any innovations around how people and organizations work virtually in this new era.
BK Healthcare has been a growing category for years and I’m guessing this will be even bigger?
BA: Health and wellness is a trend we see every year at the show but it takes on added importance this year. I think we will see products and services around telehealth really surge this year.
BK: What will we see out of the automotive sector and has it slowed with less commute patterns?
BA: I don’t think it has slowed down, but I think companies are activiely planning for how the emergence from the pandemic changes consumers and their interest in mobility. Could we see more mobility options focused on single riders? Perhaps some innovations around cleaning and sanitizing vehicles inside after use? I think this industry continues its very rapid pace of development but I agree the change in commuting patterns is something to contend with. It could be that our ‘new normal’ is a return to commuting, but on different hours in the day, or maybe fewer days a week. Things to consider, but nothing I feel will knock this industry off track.
BK: What categories have grown in light of the pandemic?
BA: 2020 was about keeping people productive and entertained at home. In 2020 we saw historic sales of big screen TVs as consumers hunkered down and binge watched their favorite shows and movies. Gaming was huge this year- gaming computers grew an astounding X% in 2020. With everyone working at home and multiple families needing their own PC and accessories, it was a big year for anything that enables productivity from home.
BK :How will audio be represented?
BA: I think we will see more new innovations around voice and digital assistants, but I believe the story this year in audio will be how it enhances these in-home content experiences consumers are having. Sales of big screen TVs has never been higher. We are in an age of bountiful content (with all you can stream video and music libraries and the popularity of podcasts) audio is right there.
The Consumer Technology Association rolls out CES 2021 this week and I couldn’t be more pumped for the event.
Every year, it is a must see moment and this year as we are stuck in a pandemic the virtual event is more important than ever for us to digest.
One tradition I look forward to is syncing up with my long time, co-conspirator, partner in crime and friend Fred Jacobs to interview CTA President Gary Shapiro for his take on the event.
1. Can you describe the immense challenges involved with the necessity to move the show to a virtual event?
This year’s CES is a totally reimagined experience – both for us as producers and for our attendees. Our goal is to create an experience that lets exhibitors, media, thought leaders, and executives connect in ways that are both safe and meaningful.
The biggest challenge was finding a platform that would let us accomplish this. We teamed up with Microsoft for its technical expertise, global scale and experience in creating compelling digital content. Microsoft is a global innovation leader and longtime supporter of CES. They understand what makes CES special and unique. And they’re working side-by-side with our team to capture that experience digitally.
CES 2021 attendees will be able to build profiles and select areas of interest so that we can tailor their experience and offer content recommendations.
2. Healthcare is always a big focus at the show. Will we see new medical technologies spurred by the pandemic?
Digital Health is a key focus area of CES 2021. We’re seeing amazing technological innovations borne out of this pandemic, many of which will be on display and part of the conversations at CES.
Robots and drones are forging ground in automated, contactless home delivery. Smart city technology helps monitor our public spaces for signs of ill health, using air sensors and temperature checks. The next generation of wearables will monitor our vitals and alert us to any irregularities before they become larger issues. And artificial intelligence can lead to improved health outcomes and lower costs.
3. COVID has forced most people to stay home more this year. How do you foresee video content and delivery changing as a result?
Despite a slowdown in television sales, we’re seeing growth in content streaming and continued interest by consumers in smarter TVs. According to CTA’s 2020 Sales and Forecast report, over 70% of displays shipping this year are smart TVs that enable access to hundreds of streaming services. And consumers continue to upgrade their sets to smarter and higher-resolution displays. In fact, 76% of TVs shipped this year will be 4K displays.
Augmented and virtual reality headsets are also expanding the horizon for entertainment, as content creators develop new all-encompassing video experiences. CTA predicts 7% revenue growth for AR/ VR headsets this year.
But it’s not just how consumers are streaming content that’s changing – it’s what they’re streaming. We have an entire vertical of CES dedicated to covering this transformation. C Space at CES brings together leaders from marketing, entertainment and media to discover disruptive tech trends affecting content consumption, advertising mediums and consumer behavior. I’m excited to hear from Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman Ann Sarnoff about her company's decision to stream its 2021 slate of releases online during our C Space Keynote address, Jan 13, at 10:30 AM ET.
4. And where does radio fit in? “Regular radios” are disappearing from homes and offices, but more people than ever are listening to favorite stations and personalities on mobile devices and smart speakers. Do you see that accelerating?
Consumer adoption of streaming platforms is moving at lightning speed through this pandemic. According to CTA research, U.S. consumers spent $42 billion on music and video streaming services in 2020, up more than four-fold from 2016. And our home entertainment is getting more immersive and sophisticated as digital assistants in smart speakers, soundbars and TVs are opening opportunities for voice-based applications.
Radio stations need to support various mediums – including smart speakers. Smart speakers are our portal to the world, connecting us with our favorite radio personalities, news sources and music genres, across time zones, across borders, and across languages. And with 5G, radio can reach new markets around the world. Streaming and radio stations remain an important component of our fully connected content future.
5. Many companies like Delta had ambitious plans at last year’s show that had to be disrupted or put on pause. Which companies are you looking forward to “seeing” at CES 2021?
We have leaders from some of the most cutting-edge companies joining us on stage this year – Amazon, Best Buy, Google, IBM, Twitter and Walmart, just to name a few. We’re also pleased to be joined again this year by leaders from non-traditional tech companies, such as the WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and WW International CEO Mindy Grossman – because these days, every company is a tech company.
6. 2020 has been off the charts. What leadership lessons have you observed by business, government, or civic leaders this year that have stood out to you?
One lesson about American innovation that has stood out to me in 2020 is that when faced with adversity, nothing is impossible thanks to our melting pot country of bright minds from around the world.
Less than 12 months after a devastating pandemic swept the globe, scientists banded together to create multiple effective vaccines that are already being distributed. The big takeaway for me, seeing Pfizer partner with Germany’s BioNTech to create the first FDA-approved Covid vaccine, is that innovators are all around us. We need policies that allow the best and brightest to come to the United States.
But U.S. immigration policy needs work. While large parts of our economy still rely on crucial high-skilled immigration programs, such as the H-1B visa, many of these programs are outdated and need to be improved for our new competitive world.
American innovators – regardless of where they were born – help drive our global competitiveness. Policymakers must enact policies that attract – not deter – immigrants who want to succeed in America.
7. Radio has been scrappy this year, doubling down on local community connection and coverage. Any thoughts on how broadcasters can stand out in 2021 in an increasingly crowded media landscape.
It’s true – the media landscape is more crowded than ever. But that’s a great thing! Content creators have more avenues than at any time in history to share their art and inspiration. And as new revenue models emerge, both ad-free and ad-supported, there are more opportunities for consumers to choose the models that make sense for them. I can’t wait to see what we create in 2021 and beyond!
Automotive thru the years at CESThe Consumer Electronics Show provides a mountain of Intel to take in every year and the automotive sector is a big part of it.
Ever since, then Ford CEO Alan Mulally first keynoted at the event back in 2009, CES has become a showcase for an evolving business that has innovated, pivoted and marched to its own beat.
Suddenly, after Ford’s appearance, the shape of the show regarding automotive dramatically changed before our eyes and other car manufacturers and OEMs followed suit.
Ford first was primarily focused on their My Ford/Touch driver connect technology which incorporated Sync and My Ford touch, as Ford first developed a connected destination for mobile devices.
Ford was very focused helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while evolving into software based platforms that fundamentally changed the way consumers and businesses would interact with vehicles on the road.
Mulally would return to keynote for multiple years later and his theme regarding the car becoming a computer on wheels would strike a chord for the changing face of the dash.
Speech recognition would also be an important theme for Ford and the other automotive companies that would ultimately be part of CES in the coming years.
Luca de Mayo from Audi called the next generation of cars, “the fastest and most powerful mobile device.”
Adaptive cruise control to heads-up displays would grow along with mobile hot spot connectivity and the radio business would begin to be educated about the immense challenge that we would face.
This would lead to an important dialogue around our business and how industry leaders need to be aligned around the connected car and it’s present and future impact.
Does radio “sell” the value it brings to consumers everyday?
With the business selling against each other rather than selling the medium should that mindset be reconsidered?
I truly believe this is a priority for our industry.
Has the business to this day truly acknowledged how consumers desire to ingest content?
This is critical to the future.
The dashboard has become part of a cohesive strategy for automotive manufacturers and the radio industry needs to consider every channel of distribution and how audience behavior impacts consumption.
As the years would evolve we would see the automotive footprint grow at CES, specifically regarding OEM’s with over
400 of them attending debuting new products, including multiple automakers like: BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota and more.
Autonomous driving continues to be a major topic for our industry and the ultimate impact is still not fully understood.
I vividly remember attending the Radio Ink/Convergence Event back in 2012 where futurist Nolan Bushnell first mentioned the reality of autonomy in our lifetime and I thought he was way out in front of his skis, but obviously I was wrong.
Back in 2015, we first began to see assistive vehicle elements such as sensors, driver active and fail safe mode as part of the road to self driving vehicles.
Along the way we would see major automotive manufacturers invest heavily in self driving tech for example:
Ford invested one billion dollars in Argo AI
Toyota invested one billion in their Toyota Research Institute
General Motors acquired self-driving car start-up Cruise Automation for 581 million dollars.
This illustrates further prove self driving vehicles are here although we are still not at the stage of Level 5 autonomy(no human interface).
The Radio Industry’s reaction to the continuing changing face of the dashboard is critical to the future.
Some years ago at the Convergence Event I moderated a panel about the changing face of the dashboard and how radio can best be prepared for the challenges.
My fundamental conclusions:
Excellent content will always win.
Unduplicated content will always win.
CES 2021 will hopefully open our eyes to the reality that “in car” listening is under multiple attacks and we need to boldly adapt and prepare for our future.
Check out jacobsmedia.com/ces2021 for information on their virtual CES tour.
Evaluating the Evolution Post CESThere are consistent themes over the years that resonate from the CES Experience.
I’m into my second decade of attending and as I reflect on what I’ve learned, I’m just as curious as what our industry has learned...and more importantly acted on.
Partnerships are a key value proposition of the Consumer Electronics Industry and as our business has evolved, how can we evaluate our performance regarding partnerships?
Let’s look back over the years to see what we can learn.
I first directly noted after the 2011 CES show how partnerships are important to the Consumer Electronics Industry and that we should consider this an opportunity.
Back in 2011, CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said about radio “it requires constant innovation. It requires partnering you’re not used to partnering with, get out of your industry events and go to other events like CES, means trying things and failing.”
Well, many in our business did begin making the exodus out to CES as the years have passed.
Partnerships first truly hit me as an opportunity for the radio business back in 2011 when I acknowledged Ford and their view of partnerships “we should emulate Ford and welcome strategic partnerships to enhance our brands. Ford has developed partnerships in an open source manner with its in car apps, reaching out directly and saying “Become a Ford app developer and partner.”
Back in 2018 when Fred Jacobs and I interviewed CTA CEO Gary Shapiro we asked him about new examples of partnerships that we would expect at CES and he said “we partnered to create a Smart Cities Focus and we partnered with the Prince of the Netherlands to bring Dutch startups to the CES and we have partnership behind virtually every new marketplace. We partner because we need and want expertise and new ideas that we simply can’t manufacture internally. Increasingly in the technology space every successful company partners because the days of stovepipe organization success is over.”
For those of you who have attended CES there are many partnerships throughout the show, including Eureka Park which is the breeding ground for startups.
We’ve recently witnessed many partnerships in the automotive sector like Intel partnering with Ferrari North America using Intel’s AI technology to change the distribution of sports broadcasting and content and last year at CES Microsoft and Ericsson, who partnered around the integration of both companies connected vehicle solutions.
As resources for all companies continue to be challenged as a result of the pandemic era have you taken a beginners mindset with your team and considered new opportunities for partnerships?
Join Fred Jacobs, Paul Jacobs and their special guest tech guru Shawn Dubravac for the CES 2021 Virtual Tour next week.
For more information go to Jacobsmedia.com/CES2021 to sign up.
As Fred says “Innovation marches on, even during a pandemic.” I might add... especially during a pandemic!
If I can help your team plan for the future reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As I’m well into my second decade of covering the Consumer Electronics Show, and as we get primed for CES 2021 it’s worth evaluating the evolution that radio has taken in tandem with the show.
Every year more and more broadcasters have joined the throngs attending and every year there are certain consistent rallying cries that come forth.
What has been one of the loudest priorities?
Research and Development
Finding a clear path to innovation is critical to every business model and the radio business is no exception.
Does our business walk the walk or just talk?
Here is a candid assessment only meant to give a supreme nudge to those that can make a difference.
Research and Development Over the Years at CES.
Back in 2008 as I covered CES for the first time I said “Radio is at a crossroads of tremendous opportunity. We have to learn from our past and learn from industries like consumer electronics to make our future bright.”
Clearly, I only walked up to the line to challenge the industry on R and D but I didn’t come flat out and say it.
In 2009 CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said “sound choice is increasing options abound for how to receive and listen to audio. There is a phenomenal future of innovation and those who don’t take the time to see the options and reflect on them will be lost in the competitive dust.”
Gary Shapiro first begins to throw down the gauntlet challenging our business to innovate and reconsider current practices but he is only just beginning to ask us to challenge status quo.
In 2011, one of my key takeaways for the industry was making the Research and Development challenge after attending CES.
Every year, as I and others, (like Fred Jacobs and Steve Goldstein) have pushed the importance of R and D after attending the show very little actually seems to occur.
R and D doesn’t have to only apply to technological advances and improvements.
It can relate to better user experience, better customer service, unique ways to market a brand and other ways that lead to continuous improvement.
Back in 2013 I was fortunate to interview Nolan Bushnell while I was at CES.
Nolan has an amazing history of creativity and innovation including being the Founder of Atari and Chuck E Cheese.
His other notable claim to fame was hiring Steve Jobs while at Atari.
His book “How to Hire the Next Steve Jobs” is a great read regarding the qualities and characteristics to look for when going thru the hiring process and his themes in the book resonate today when considering the research and development process.
According to Nolan “the most important thing is to hire people with passion. The hiring process can actually be really valuable because with every applicant you could say “what would you do if you were president of this radio station?”
Nolan goes on to reinforce the importance of curiosity in leaders and how that curiosity feeds the creative research and development process.
There are many curious leaders of the broadcast industry who have been accustomed to attending over the years such as Holland Cooke, Bill Saurer, Ed Cohen and others who I am unintentionally leaving out, but there is one in particular who is a great example of curiosity in action and that’s Jerry Lee.
Jerry has been to every CES and his thirst for curiosity runs deep every time I run into him.
Jerry’s curiosity fuels his pursuit of solving business problems and of improving a business that he passionately loves.
As Fred Jacobs put it back in 2014 “if you don’t have a program of continuing education the learning eventually stops and with it the perspective and innovation.”
I think as 2021 begins, it is worth all of us revisiting our continuing education plans and try some different things.
Let’s figure out how to build actionable steps that build a cost effective research and development process.
As the need for R and D is more significant reach out to me if I can help you or your team.
2021 CES Potential Key ThemesIn anticipation of the upcoming CES, I wondered in a new pandemic based existence what might be surfacing at the upcoming digital only show.
One of the biggest life changing moments during the pandemic has been the necessity for consumers to rely on video to communicate with coworkers, family members and more.
Zoom went from a useful tool to a necessity overnight and that will obviously fuel at CES a look at other types of video conferencing capabilities.
Google for example took major leaps in their video conferencing capabilities with Google Meet by enabling video chats with hundreds of participants.
With Microsoft having a big presence at the upcoming show it will also be interesting to see what advancements they are working on for their Team platform.
Fitness tech has been a burgeoning category every year at CES and there is no doubt this year will be no exception.
As gyms have essentially shut down as a result of the pandemic consumers have placed a greater reliance on finding their right solution fit to stay fit.
The turning point for fitness tech this past year was that these machines or devices actually do help us be better fit.
Of course there is gimmickry but overall there is great quality in this category, obviously led by the Peloton wave.
Look for other subscription service copy cats to try and get a piece of this category.
Relating slightly to the fitness tech category are electric two wheelers which saw growth in 2020.
With regulations in states like New York and California making them safer to ride we can potentially expect to see more interest in this category at CES.
Home health care was bound to advance out of necessity due to the pandemic and this year we can expect to evaluate products like:
Vision Check 2-a new DIY Smart Phone Vision test created by Eye Q which makes it easy to test your vision at home and order glasses on-line and Gate Doc, a smart automated and touchless body temperature scanner which eliminates the burden of temperature checks.
Heath-care was an exploding category before the pandemic so expect to see lots of innovation this year.
Are there devices or categories that emerged last year at CES that might need a reboot of sorts?
Some of the Amazon devices might be a little on the weird side. For example: A drone that rides around your house recording video strikes me as unnecessary.
Bad Sci Fi implications
Amazons Halo fitness tracking device also seems a bit useless
I don’t need an app to tell me I’m in a bad mood
Another idea that either needs a reboot from last years show or go away is the foldable phone category
Still trying to figure what my motivation would be for needing it
Then there is 5G
Marketing ploy or real deal?
As the carriers all fight for their share it feels more marketing than an advantage that has arrived
Very few companies find the big win that becomes the must have of CES.
Let’s see who breaks out of the pack in the upcoming days.
The technology business is great to emulate when thinking of the innovation process.
This year at #ces 2021, I look forward to what will pop, what will drop like a thud and what requires more development before it hits mass market.
This year at the show we will get a sense of the progress of existing categories and the breakout of new ones that may hit consumer consensus.
How these products get there is a fascinating journey that over the years has evolved into more trial balloons that ultimately fade into the sunset
Rest assured that even fast failures provide valuable insights for a company’s next development
Tweaking and iterating goes a long way toward the innovation process
Businesses can learn from this calculated mission and grow for the future
I eagerly look forward to CES 2021 next week as we evaluate new learnings and new possibilities
This comes at the most crucial time in our careers when business and brands need innovation the most.
Buzz Knight shares his thoughts about media happenings