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.