What happens at the yearly CES doesn’t just stay in Vegas. It has wide geographic and business impact. The show has been gaining prominence each year (now 180,000 attendees) and affects any company that puts innovation at the forefront – which, in the era of digital disruption, includes B2C, B2B and the marketing companies that serve them both.
Consumer Electronics Show is now a misnomer. It’s really become THE technology show. Why is it important for B2B companies to pay attention (and attend if they’re so inclined)? CES showcases new products and innovations that leverage new technologies and solve and evolve consumer needs. In some cases, the B2B companies are fueling the development of these innovations (or their offshoots) with their technologies; in other cases, since B2B companies are targeting people (albeit for business purposes), there’s a need to understand what’s being done on the “consumer” side – as consumer expectations blur between B2C and B2B use cases. It can only make B2B companies more in tune with what’s out there, where technology is heading and how they can play a part.
A life-like piano playing robot, a walking car, being able to virtually try on clothes or a TV that rolls up into itself – all may seem a bit far-fetched now. But, as we all have witnessed with the progression of 5G, the proliferation of AI (even in our own homes), the reality of autonomous driving and the increase of health & wellness technology – the hyperbole of yesterday becomes the reality we experience today – and where the bar is now set. B2B companies can start to see growth areas for their businesses, they can understand tools, technologies and solutions that may have applicability for improving their own way of doing business. And, it’s a great environment for inspiration. The wow factor does wonders for getting people in any business to think about “what if?”, “what’s next?” and “how ’bout?” It’s these questions that get people thinking differently and spur even greater progress.
As a B2B company, HOW you participate is key. Knowing the huge focus, seemingly limitless budgets of show exhibitors, and groundbreaking innovations being unveiled, participation can be intimidating. But you don’t have to stay home. Think of it as a multi-year strategy – where you attend a few years before you activate your participation to exhibit. Start slowly and absorb the experience, see where your company fits, what your point of view is on what’s being shown and communicate that internally and externally. When/if you decide to exhibit or advertise, ensure you have enough budget and resources to make an impact. An underwhelming presence could backfire. Think creatively. Guerrilla or grassroot tactics can be a cost efficient way in – and done correctly, can make a big impact. Apple did just that (although they’re not lacking budget nor resources). They booked an oversized billboard right outside of the show and made a statement about their point of difference when it comes to privacy. With planning, your CES investment can also be used at other shows, events and digitally. Be honest about your company’s contributions to technology, but push the envelope. That’s what technology companies do.
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