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!