Posts Tagged ‘intel’

Reflections on CES 2016: Finding Signals in the Noise

January 21, 2016

Intel_CES_2016

Whether it’s your first time going or whether it’s just another year at CES, the event never ceases to feel overwhelming. Over half a dozen hotels are involved, the actual ‘trade show’ is filled with so many booths that it is split into multiple venues covering over 2.5 million square feet, and for a full week there is basically non-stop keynote and conference content.

There is a lot of noise at CES, and pulling out different signals within it can sometimes be difficult. Press coverage is rampant – and inevitably a bit snarky at times – and you can get top takeaways from dozens of different outlets. For example:

  • AdAge highlighted things that got buzz
  • Phys.org focused on listing new tech
  • The New York Times explored how experiential even a deal making room can be, and
  • Znet highlighted the weirdest and worst gadgets

It was just my second year at CES and so I’m not expert on a historical perspective of the event, but a few themes clearly emerged from my experience.

Rebranding the event itself

For a time, the latest TV advances seemed to dominate the buzz, both good and bad, at the Consumer Electronic Show. Over the past several years, though, as the world became more interconnected and technical components became cheaper and cheaper, the tone and breadth of the event changed significantly.

Recognizing these changes, in 2015 the producing organizing rebranded itself as the Consumer Technology Association (from Consumer Electronics Association) and dropped the full name of the trade show to just CES. As CTA President Gary Shapiro noted, “Our name change is an evolution. Just as the tech sector itself has evolved and now crosses multiple industry sectors, we’ve broadened our membership to include new technologies and intersecting industries – software, app development, crowdsourcing technology, robotics, content creation, and the personalized health care and services sectors.”

In this case, the name changes follow an already established shift in the mission of the organization and the set-up of its flagship event, so it didn’t draw much attention or create any real impact. Still, it does formalize the fact that CES is now highlighting how technology will drive broad social and business changes, rather than just showing off the latest update to a gadget in your home.

Autonomous vehicles

The auto industry has become a large part of CES over the past few years. Gary Shapiro even joined in at the Volkswagen Keynote that I attended on January 5. Most of the focus was on electric vehicles, physical displays and interconnectivity. CEO Herbert Diess opined, “The car will be the most important device on the Internet.”

What didn’t get nearly as much attention via the microphones was the future of the automated/self-driving car. This was unfortunate, as one moment on the showroom floor showed me that this is what people are most fascinated by when thinking about the future of transportation.

The benefit of attending CES in person is that you can see people’s reaction to the tech in front of them. When walking the automotive area, the Nvidia booth immediately stuck out as an anomaly. Isn’t Nvidia a graphics card company? And why is this booth swarming with people? What’s going on?

Nvidia_CES_2016It turns out that Nvidia has become a strong player in the automotive area by developing Nvidia Drive to create automated systems to “enable cars to see, think, and learn.” Employees at the booth were surrounded by folks interested in understanding the technical set-up for gathering information on the road as well as the neural networks and machine learning that are being develop to create automated driving experiences.

While looking at futuristic car designs draws one’s eye, people’s minds are sharply attuned to how their car may help them drive in the future.

Partnerships rule

Just introducing the new cool gadget isn’t going to cut it anymore. Every keynote and press conference wasn’t complete without other companies, entertainers, or politicians gracing the stage to talk about projects and partnerships that would shape the future of society.

Panasonic_Denver_Smart_City_CES_2016At the Panasonic press conference, I got to see the mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, take the stage with Panasonic N.A. Chairman and CEO Joe Taylor to talk about their smart city initiative. Ford announced its efforts with Amazon to integrate the Echo system into future smart vehicles. Google appeared on stage at the LG press conference to highlight their partnership to develop more secure smart things. And Samsung had Microsoft’s Bryan Roper demonstrate natural language queries on Windows 10 that will drive their smart devices.

Finally, there was no bigger experience than Intel’s keynote. From knowns like A.R. Rahman, Oakley, X Games, and Lady Gaga, to smaller start-ups like Daqri, there was a constant steam of people demonstrating what can be made possible by Intel’s latest line of chips.

While competition still abounds in the tech sector, the future growth of smart things, augmented/virtual reality, drones, and robots, will be contingent on various kinds of shared systems. The potential of interconnectivity for both commercial growth and societal benefits will only come about if the devices and systems that hold promise in this area can find ways to work together via partnerships, APIs, and universal standards.

Some closing observances

Samsung Gear has been available, but with Oculus Rift taking pre-orders at CES, virtual reality fully put its stake in the marketplace this year. I’ve tried the headset a few times and within minutes gotten “VR sickness.” I await future reports on the return rate of these devices.

There are car manufacturers a plenty now at CES, but sadly they have no idea how to staff the show floor. Turn left or right at any other booth and you can find a staff person to talk to – sometimes even at a leadership level – but from Volvo to Ford to Toyota, it was nearly impossible to find anyone to talk to about their latest efforts.

The smallest things can create the biggest emotional reaction. Panasonic showed off its transparent TV screen in a natural looking living room setting and people crowded around to watch it with expressions of joy and wonder plastered across their face.

And finally, no Las Vegas experience would be complete without an Elvis moment….

Elvis_CES_2016

BY MATTHEW QUINT

Investing in Unconventional Thinking

April 23, 2013

PJA Some of the best brand stories emerge from unconventional thinking, especially in a market environment where pure financial wins are harder and harder to come by. Big blue-chip companies are increasingly turning to less traditional methods for expanding brand awareness and affinity by adding a more “human” touch to their marketing efforts. At the BRITE ’13 conference, PJA Advertising + Marketing’s President Mike O’Toole led a panel of marketers from Intel and PepsiCo who have invested in just this type of thinking. Panel members relayed some unique brand-building tactics and how they’re positioning themselves for stronger relationships with current and future customers.

O’Toole, host of PJA Radio’s “The Unconventionals”, started the conversation by noting some of the common characteristics of outside-the-box approaches. In particular, he highlighted the long-term nature of these initiatives, saying, “There’s a sense that if you create experiences that your customer cares about, the goodness will accrue back to you over time.” He also notes that content-owned platforms, vs. external media sponsors, have become a popular tactic in recent years. Txchnologist, an online magazine created in partnership with and sponsored by GE, is one example. Populated by a network of freelance writers and reporters, Txchnologist articles and op-eds discuss technology and innovation’s impact on modern day society. Through this vehicle, GE is able to drive conversation in the space and strengthen its position as an industry thought leader.

Another approach is to provide an outlet or resource that allows consumers to relate better to, or learn from, a brand. Both Intel and PepsiCo have heavily relied on this strategy, lending to the success they’re now seeing nearly three years after kicking off their respective initiatives. Intel’s Creators Project was developed to support new and emerging artists in music, film and design. Run by Creative Director David Haroldsen, the Project produces videos, releases albums, and builds stages for bands, among other things – all in the hopes of showing younger generations how technology enables them to reach larger audiences and celebrate creative expression.

PepsiCo, on the other hand, dedicates about 10% of its digital media spend working with startups during their nascent stages, believing that early investment in these highly innovative companies will lead to valuable business partnerships down the road. PepsiCo Beverages’ Global Head of Digital Shiv Singh tells Crain’s, “We decided to formalize a relationship, to really think about how to bring infrastructure to supporting startups, helping them help us.” Singh likened the relationship to a venture capital firm, but without the need for a checkbook. Startups benefit primarily from PepsiCo’s guidance on things like monetization strategies and marketing insights. PepsiCo team members co-locate incubator spaces, sponsor key events and broaden media relationships. In turn, these startups help develop PepsiCo’s credibility in the social and digital spaces.

Both Intel and PepsiCo have hit plenty of speed bumps before achieving the results they are seeing today. The panelists were also quick to underscore the importance of ongoing measurement. Data and findings from focus groups, website traffic, and attendance at sponsored events are critical to recalibrating program strategy where needed and helping to secure increased budget, time and credibility.

Watch BRITE ’13’s “Unconventional Marketing Investments” to learn more about how PepsiCo and Intel go beyond traditional marketing tactics to strengthen consumer engagement.

Visit Public Radio Exchange for full episodes of “The Unconventionals,” a PJA Radio Production with academic sponsor The Center for Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School.

BY NANDITA RAY

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