CES las vegas

5 reasons you should be talking about CES in your next strategy session

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180,000 people are still stretching their legs after a week walking the strip in Las Vegas, visiting thousands of exhibitors, attending talks and… drinking.  By now most of you will have seen the latest gadgets, smart “whatever” or heard about 5G as a key enabler for the next generation of connected “everything”. After CES ended and while the world is “feeding” the algorithms with the 10 years challenge, we are all back in our offices. Now is a good time to reflect on why certain not so obvious CES outcomes should be part of your next strategic session, no matter if you are a C-Level executive or if you are in Marketing, Sales, HR, Supply Chain, or Research & Development. Reason #1: China is big, way bigger than you think… unless you are Chinese.
China World Economic Outlook (October 2018) – Real GDP growth
In the middle of the USA-China trade war, the Chinese presence at CES was bigger than ever, both in the number of exhibitors and number of attendees. Entire pavilions dedicated to large, medium and small Chinese companies were present, competing in any possible sector, from retail (with JD.com and Alibaba.com) to home-appliances (TCL above all), mobile (Huawei), AI, eSports and many others. Despite the fact that the Chinese economy is not shining as brightly in the past decade, the country is transforming into a technological superpower ready to learn from and compete with the west. Companies cannot ignore either the massive 1 billion+ Chinese market, its growing and travelling middle class, or the competition that comes from this poorly understood, imperialistic part of the world. Reason #2: Think in ecosystems as the lonely wolf will soon die
evolving intelligence
Properly designed business platforms can help create and capture new economic value and scale the potential for learning across entire ecosystems.” John Hagel –Deloitte  In other words, the big winners of tomorrow will be those that create operating systems for different players to join in and co-develop, co-produce, co-create value for the end user. LG gave a great example of such thinking during its keynote address. What  was once a pure manufacturer of home-appliances is now being transformed into a “platform” company, with a proper operating system (WebOS) and AI (LG ThinQ) to power not just the LG devices but those of many partners with whom the Korean company is building ecosystems (for your house, your car, etc.). One of the companies that I helped get off the ground, Smarterchains , is building the ecosystem for the factory of the future, connecting manufacturing leaders with the thousands of industry 4 technology vendors, collaborating with consultants and system integrators to create a win-win scenario for all. Understanding how ecosystems are and will affect your industry is paramount in defining the success of your company in the near future. Reason #3: Get your data together…right now!  
Over the past few years big CPG companies have been advocating the shift to a mass-one-to-one personalization model powered by large amounts of data. At CES, both Mark Pritchard (P&G CMO) and Keith Weed (Unilever CMO) announced that the 1 billion data points mark has been achieved (P&G) and will be achieved in 2019 (Unilever). Despite direct to consumer being a small part of their business, both companies have been intentionally collecting and classifying consumer data for better marketing. Looking beyond CPG and looking back to the change of strategy and vision LG has initiated, data and the ability to own it is a clear industry trend that can no longer be ignored by anyone. Companies with no clear data strategies, data roadmaps and data roles (inside or outside of the organization), will have a hard time competing with their peers that have one, or the newcomers that will be born with one. Setting up a data mindset is not straightforward and it often starts with understanding the status quo: tech stack, data availability, organizational structure, capabilities, etc. Reason #4:  Today’s kids & teenagers will operate in a completely different media ecosystem
Wether you have any or not, the next generation of 20+ year old consumers will be raised in a very different media ecosystem where content consumption habits are shaped in ways few truly understand. The phenomenon of Twitch where millions of people watch others play videogames, the new influencing channels (i.e. toys,  Ryan ToysReview ) and social platforms are reshaping how brands can engage the current generation of consumers and future generation of shoppers. Observing trends coming out of CES, from entertainment being served on demand anywhere (home, car), to the CEO of Netflix declaring that he doesn’t see Disney as his main “keep me awake at night” competitor but rather Youtube (source: CNBC), the media landscape is clearly changing. What to do? We will be living for many decades and likely forever in multiple media landscapes (in part we are already in that situation). What was once a single media landscape made of few TV channels, radio stations and magazines is today a complex, varied, multi-platform world that serves in very different ways audiences based on their age, tastes, and level of digital savviness. One size fits all is dead and companies have to step up their game to serve different audiences in different media ecosystems. Reason #5: The technology roller-coaster: don’t get hooked too soon and get beyond the hype
Technologies need time to mature, become adopted by the industry and its consumers, or disappear. A year on year analysis of the presence at CES of exhibitors from certain technology types shows easily what technology is in hype stage, adoption or simply in the death circle. This year it seems the “missing in action” technology has been Virtual Reality. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of companies were showcasing some sort of VR but according to the many CES veterans, after 3 to 4 years of “VR everywhere”, this tech got the hook. Why? We can speculate together but the key message here is not to get hooked, at least not too soon with new technologies. In conclusion While some might get hooked with the latest CES gadget, I believe you should look beyond the hardware and focus on the information flow that defines trends relevant for your own industry, taking those to your boardroom or strategic meetings and integrating it into your action plan. At the eBusiness Institute, we have extensive experience of working with numerous brands on their digital transformation. We understand the importance of an optimized consumer experience to drive your brand’s sales online and offline. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.


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