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.