I’ve just booked my flights and accommodation for the next annual orgy of consumer tech in Las Vegas known as CES.
I’m sure that most of you reading this have either attended the event or at the very least have heard of it and will fall into one of two categories of response:-
“Hell yeah – see you there!”
“WHY WOULD YOU PUT YOURSELF THROUGH THIS??????”
To the newbies / first time attendees, the event can be a bit intimidating – in 2018 there were more than 4,400 exhibiting companies spread over more than 2.7 MILLION net square feet of exhibit space (read that again and tell me you’re not breaking out in a sweat already ……….). As soon as they hit the floor on day one, their carefully composed plans to cover the event go flying out the window as the sheer scale assaults the senses and they get caught up in the crowds.
Some of the regulars / old timers might yawn, jaded by the “sameness” of previous years reluctantly trudging from hall to hall with an indifferent “nothing to see here” / “seen it all before” attitude, wondering why they decided once again to cover the show live instead of simply following the more than 100,000 media mentions that come out of the event.
Over the last 10 years of relatively regular attendance, in spite of remembering the pain associated with blistered feet from walking an average of 28,000 steps a day, CES has solidified its place on my “must try to attend” list of events where I scout for TIPS :-
As an Innovation Catalyst, I help people to connect the dots between the changes taking place in the world around us and the impacts and implications that these might have on them personally, their company, their industry and society in general.
To do this I constantly contemplate 3 simple questions :-
- What is new that I hadn’t seen before?
- What has changed from the last time I saw it?
- What is on the horizon?
- So what?
- Will this have a direct (or indirect) impact on me, my company, my industry, my competitors, my supply chain, my customers?
- Does this open up new opportunities?
- Does this alter any previous assumptions about “the art of the possible”?
- Now what?
- What action should I take?
- What should I being doing about it?
- Who needs to know about it?
With the “what, what, what” mantra in my mind, I hit the halls of CES classifying everything I see into TIPS.
Obviously I’m always on the lookout for new technologies, but due to the nature of my work and on-going research, I seldom discover something at CES that I haven’t seen, read or heard about before. However, what I’m looking for here is how ubiquitous a technology has become / is likely to become. The more consumer goods adopt a particular technology (lets say “voice enabled” as an example) and the more prevalent it becomes, the more consumer expectations change. Once something is embedded into everyday life (consumer goods), the previously “unknown” becomes the “known” – opening up many more opportunities and bringing about a wave of change.
People often conflate the concepts of “innovation” and “invention” however most often innovation comes in the form the application of an existing technology in a new way, which doesn’t require any invention at all. Some of the most disruptive innovation recently seen has been in the form of “business model innovation”.
These are a great indicator of what the future might hold. I’ve previously sat in many fascinating sessions run by the IEEE and other organisations at CES where patents and academic research have challenged my assumptions of technology capability and forced me to rethink the timeline of just how soon these might have an impact on our lives.
The startup scene has exploded at CES with over 1,000 startups from all over the world exhibiting in the Eureka Park Marketplace in 2018. This has become a major source of inspiration for me and I ended up dedicating a full day this year to just this one single hall. No matter what size of organisation or type of industry you are in, you should be tracking startups in order to identify future possible competitors, suppliers and collaborators.
Of course I could sit back in my loft in London and jump onto the hashtags and wade through the volumes of press releases and articles that follow on for months after the event and classify them the same way (and indeed when I get back to Blighty after the event I do just that) – but if I did, I would lose out on the opportunity to ask “what, what, what” for myself.
So I’ll be there in 2019 once more – how about you?
If you are interested in a printable infographic (free, no signup or registration required) that summarizes my TIPS approach outlined above, it’s available in this blog post here – hope you find it handy.