Thoughts from CES: the future, nostalgia, data, privacy, and every company is a tech company.

By Erica Herman, SVP Director of Brand Planning

Several C-Kers attended CES and, while many topics were covered, there were a few discussions that stuck in our minds and challenged us to reflect on how we approach our work in communications.

The future

Let’s begin with the 4A’s review, CES 2019 – Lifestyle Futurism. It’s well worth a lunchtime read, and it’s just fun to imagine the near-future. Chick Foxgrover, who wrote the report, is the 4A’s EVP, Creative Technologies and Innovation, and an astute observer. His main themes – 5G, AI, mobility and privacy, and tech ethics – were clearly where the heat is, and every one of them impacts our industry. He also talks about Lifestyle Futurism, the technological knitting together of all aspects of our lives.

Deep data as natural resource (what an evocative thought!)

Ginni Rometty, IBM Chair, President and CEO shared “For years I have said that data will be the world’s greatest natural resource. But we estimate that less than 1 percent of the data that the world is emitting is actually collected and analyzed.”

Regarding AI and other tools that allow us to grapple with deep data, she stated, “These tools are so powerful, but like all powerful tools, we have to usher them safely into society. I really do believe trust and security will be the preconditions for this era to thrive.”

Data security and ethics

On a related note, data security and ethics are at a fever pitch. A wide variety of brands (e.g., McAfee, Amazon, Verizon) touted ways they’d stop hackers from collecting CC/personal data. Apple had a particularly well-placed OOH message for a Las Vegas event, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”

C-K’s client Nikon shows off its new Z series cameras’ capabilities.

Nostalgia

Victrola, Kodak and Polaroid harnessed positive sentiment from the older generation with products that, through technology, can deliver on expectations for today. (Kids like them, too.)

Every company is a tech company

This is a big one. Not that long ago at CES, most exhibitors would have been heavily tech-led companies. Today, we’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t embed tech into how it’s made or how it works. What that means is this: all aspects of our lives are represented at CES. How we care for our babies in utero and our elders as they age, how we play, learn, exercise, listen to music, travel, and build our homes. Even John Deere was there.

Companies and brands are eager to keep on their tech game or up it. Many are also getting in the game and may decide they want to be seen as a “tech” company, even though technology isn’t their core competency. That’s a worthy conversation to have out in the open – whether a company benefits more from identifying with its core competency vs. technology – because every company is, and will continue to be, touched by and reliant on technology in all its forms.