The Best of CES

MH3 —  January 25, 2018

Two weeks ago I was riddled with enthusiasm as I attended my first ever Consumer Electronics Show.

The 2018 edition of CES attracted some 200,000 delegates so I’m pretty sure it didn’t notice me exploring its halls and the streets of Las Vegas with a massive smile on my face, a rising heartbeat in my chest, and throbbing brain in my skull. But trust me CES – I was there. As were you. So much of you that with almost three full days of attending, I feel like I barely got to know you.

Day one I sampled marketing-oriented sessions, toured an expo hall focused on healthy living, and attended some dynamic sport innovation sessions. Day two I toured the convention center and covered 23,000 steps worth of inspiration. Day three I joined a summit focused on bettering society.

I learned a hundred and one new things, but you don’t have time to read that long of a list so I’ve whittled it down to ten. Each of these ten deserves to be explored in greater depth, which is something I plan to share with my team and clients over the next few weeks. For now, please enjoy this summarized account and accept my preemptive apology if it leaves you wanting more. That’s one hundred and three percent intentional.

1. I learned that the more people globally list this position as their occupation than any other. Can you guess? A driver. More people work as drivers than any other job on the globe. It made me question the societal impact of the billions of dollars being spent to create a future state of autonomously-driven vehicles. How will all of these people deal with becoming forever obsolete?

2. A man should not be defined by his worst deeds. So said Shaka Senghor. A drug dealer, convicted murderer, MIT fellow, and New York Times bestseller. He was told by the guard when he left jail after seventeen years behind bars – seven of which in solitary confinement –  that he would be back in six months. Senghor used that as his motivation to focus on the future and not the past. To climb past his worst deeds. I (thankfully) haven’t committed murder, though I was jailed for a night, but too often I put MH3 in my own cell of regret over something that went wrong in the past. Senghor convinced me that the blips in my past aren’t worth becoming speed bumps in my future. Blessed that at a technology convention I learned something so powerful about my own humanity.

3. There is a technology rebellion on its way. Gen Z’s are stressed out by tech. Research is showing signs of boredom with technology. Millenial women are diving back into reading print pubs. The explosion in the experience economy is coming and will be bigger than we could imagine.

4. VR is a great technology for experiential if you have buckets of money. Done to scale like the amazing Samsung Olympic VR installment, VR can actually be used quite powerfully. Samsung packaged simulators, rides, indictable and group activities in a seamless manner. VR is still probably a more B2B focused technology, but planning your next 2D marketing campaign in VR will open up endless possibilities that I certainly wasn’t seeing before.

5. Want to get rich? Own the data. It’s that simple. Every industry story has the same bottom line, access to data. It’s everywhere. In the 20th Century Cash Was King. In the 21st… Data Dominates.

6. Intel has it figured out. They were everywhere at CES and everywhere they were they did it brilliantly. Their opening keynote was being talked about right until the closing of the show. Their nightly drone shows lit up the Nevada sky. Their trade show installation was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Staffed by talented, mature (not 22-year-olds) and highly paid (two of them told me so unprompted) brand ambassadors, the energy level and activities was infectious. I didn’t want to leave. With literally more than dozen engagement points. I didn’t have to. AR. VR. AI. Drones. They had it all. If I was giving advice to a college grad of where to go to work, I would say find a way to get into Intel. No pun intended.

7. I would love to be a robot for a day. The bar is so low to be admired. I saw one play ping pong versus a human. People gasped. I saw another take in job applicants. People aped. A third played for a large crowd and flittered with spectators. People giggled. I am not sure if my fellow attendees were aware, but I can do all three of those things. And more! Plus my soon to be released 3.0 model can dance with a full beer can on his head without spilling it for two entire songs.

8. Living longer is not only a universal goal, its an unbelievable business. Aisle after aisle after aisle proffered gadgets for healthier living, staying fitter, measuring every indicator a human could possibly create, stimulating your brain, tightening your tush, and improving your looks. Perhaps my naivete to this category demonstrates nothing more than my own ignorance, but wow. The money being poured into healthy pursuits has no end.

9. Like many major events, CES can be characterized by the official event accessible by all, the official exclusive events accessible by the chosen, and the unofficial events accessible by the connected. I am not ashamed to announce that I was invited to exactly ZERO events of a VIP nature. ZERO! It is probably one of the few times in my life where it didn’t matter. The energy and enthusiasm of the showgoers flowed over to the bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and even the gym at my hotel. If you didn’t end up talking to a stranger, that was by your choice. A choice you actually had to work at to succeed at. People wore their convention lanyards like a badge of honour. Up and down the streets, the CES badge gave you license to nod, smile, or greet a perfect stranger. It was like Burning Man for people who wanted to keep their pants. At least where I was, anyway. The all-too-obvious closing statement to this comment is to lament why we can’t be this social everyday and everywhere. Despite its predictability that is the question I am going to pose to you.

10. Everyone was at CES. When I mean everyone, I mean everyone. Governments, charities, celebrities, every industry imaginable. Why? Because despite all the trend spotters out there, nobody really knows what is going to happen next. Being a CES helps you figure that out. But  There is a lot hype in this world and the biggest challenge at CES is sorting through all the prototypes, demos, and one-offs to understand what ca actually be applied to the here and now. The upside of all this hype is that it provides a powerful kick in the jewels to inspire more innovation and experimentation in your everyday life.


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