The name 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) suggests a strong consumer focus that causes many CIOs and IT managers to ignore the event. A few days in Las Vegas sounds more like a vacation or a boondoggle than a worthwhile business trip for managers under incessant time pressure. However, I saw multiple business angles and opportunities in virtually every product category at CES. Here are a few examples:
3D printing is not just about making cute plastic toys for your grandchildren or fascinating sculptures for your friends to admire. 3D printing has become the fast, cheap way for businesses to make conceptual product prototypes to work out design kinks long before serious money is wasted on molds and tools for actual manufacturing.
For some products, 3D printing can be a cost-effective solution for short or custom product runs. Even Martha Stewart offers designer 3D printed items for weddings.
As we all observe in our own cars, automotive electronics for operation, navigation, safety and entertainment are becoming more sophisticated and complex. However, none of us want to pay more for cars. The automobile industry is meeting this challenge successfully.
Most other businesses need to similarly address the demand for more functionality, achieved in part through more electronics, and higher quality with no increase in the selling price. Advances in automotive electronics are directly relevant to other industries.
Content Creation & Distribution
Many businesses struggle with their online presence. Their websites do not perform well, the navigation is confusing or the content is out of date. Their social media presence is uneven or confusing. Some businesses make poor use of displays and video to tell their story in consumer settings.
The hardware, software and services for content creation and distribution shown and discussed at CES offer many ideas businesses can use to improve the content of their communications.
To many executives electronic gaming is about entertaining a lot of teenagers and maybe a few adults. That’s about the last activity management wants to encourage at work.
However, electronic gaming has grown to an industry with over $10 billion in annual sales. Associated with these sales is a vast audience that your business may want to reach to promote your products and services. Because electronic gaming is so much a part of the life of the next generation, the concept of gamification has developed to produce more interesting and engaging employee training to replace rather monotonous videos or PowerPoint presentations.
Health and Wellness
Many businesses suffer from the absentee and reduced productivity consequences of poor employee lifestyle choices even when they’re not paying the full healthcare costs associated with these unfortunate choices.
In the health and wellness category, the CES offered wearable devices and smartphone apps that gather health data from the person using the device. This data often dramatically raises awareness of unhealthy behavior and encourages modest changes in lifestyle. Vigilant Suisse and WebMD are two of many example vendors in this category.
Smart Home control capabilities are typically much simpler than the automated control system requirements of discrete and continuous manufacturing businesses.
However, many businesses can learn a lot about achieving automated controls at a fraction of what many businesses spend from the Smart Home vendors. Insteon, LG, Lowe’s, D-Link and SmartThings are example vendors in this category.
In many businesses, the cost of sensors and their supporting infrastructure are an impediment to their wider use.
At CES a wide variety of vendors, none of which are widely recognized names, offered low-cost and imaginative solutions for sensor design and integration.
Do you think attending CES with the goal of helping your business is a good idea or simply a waste of time?