When Consumers Are in Control, Where Does That Leave CES?

In 2015, the focus on “more” of everything did not have the desired effects for the tech industry. This resulted in CES 2016 being more about reflection. In tech’s unrelenting push for more—more processing power; more square inches of screen; more hard drive space; more cloud computing; and more connected consumers—we took a brief pause to consider which way the future was headed.

I know it’s weird to say that the largest tech conference on the planet could offer any time for reflection, but as we enter the third decade of the connected age, there were many moments where the attendees actually did consider whether the new shiny object was worth the effort. 8K TV screens debuted, even while penetration of 4K screens remains minuscule; hoverboards were available to try, but you couldn’t bring them home because airlines won’t transport the fire hazards; and connected set-top boxes featured more channels, but still haven’t solved universal search.

So there was not much enthusiasm for the evolutionary products. The revolutionary tech was just far enough in the future that it was a topic of discussion, but not action. Self-driving cars have regulatory concerns. The Internet of Things is fragmented into a variety of use cases—content, health, lifestyle, etc—which limits applications of the hardware today. But, what can we take away? As the digital landscape gets even more complicated, we see a push back to basics. How do we connect with our customer? What does our customer want from us? And how do we deliver on the promise of personalized, connected experiences?

From that standpoint, the key takeaways from CES were very exciting for me. Brands that build new experiences will rely on knowing their customers’ identity, across the customer journey. Time to get back to the basics in 2016.