So, another CES done and dusted. And while there was some interesting tech to see, this isn’t the place to read about it (I’d recommend this article of VentureBeat for the top trends and this one from BGR on the most exciting gadgets – featuring one of our clients too I might add ;))
Instead, today I want to focus on the bad stuff. What went wrong at CES. And as comms pros, what can we take away from it?
1. Robots are not our friends.
From the infamous LG keynote where their smart robot CLOi was having a bad day to the robot suitcase that was meant to be able to follow people but just fell over instead, robots caused major headaches for companies at CES. Learning – if anyone suggests doing a live robot demo, run away now. This has the potential to cause major reputational damage to your brand if it goes wrong, and if it goes well, it’s not even new. So please just don’t.
2. You can’t predict the weather
It never rains in the desert, right? Wrong. During CES, Vegas had rain for the first time in 116 days.. And not just any rain, but an all-day torrential downpour. Getting around became impossible as traffic ground to a halt, outside demos like those of self-driving cars had to be put on hold for “safety reasons” but worse was for Google who had to shut their massive tent at the convention center as it wasn’t, well, waterproof. Worst still, the outside of the tent was the phrase, ‘Will I need an umbrella today?’, making it all too easy to poke fun at Google on social channels. Learning – if you’re going to publicize about how your technology prepares you for anything – be prepared for anything, including the weather. Giving out branded umbrellas to sodden journalists could have turned this soggy situation upside down.
3. Losing power means people losing their minds
As a result of all of that rain, the Central Hall at the LVCC lost power the following day – which was housing some of the biggest names in tech like Samsung and Intel, as well as the CNET stage. For nearly two hours, there were a lot of very unhappy people who weren’t able to show or see the latest tech goodies. That said, Panasonic was able to turn this situation to their advantage by offering reporters the perfect opportunity to test out their latest camera, which sells itself on its low-light capabilities. Learning – you can’t always control the situation that you’ll end up in, but look at ways to turn it to your advantage while your competitors are scrambling.
4. Politicians ruin everything
Now, this is not going to become a political argument, but I think that we can agree that shutting down the main road of CES for two hours so that Mike Pence could drive through was not going to benefit anyone at the show. This led to some very delayed or cancelled meetings on Thursday, as people couldn’t move between the two main venues, leading to yet again more frustrated attendees. Learning – Plan for the unexpected! Running extra Monorail shuttles during this shutdown and telling people about this ahead of time would have gone a long way to prevent frustration.
5. The lack of diversity
Before CES started, there was a lot of unhappiness around the lack of diversity represented at the show. While this may be representative of the tech industry at large, having only white male speakers keynoting felt particularly tone deaf this year. To combat this, CES prominently featured the women and people of color who had been invited, but as Ina Fried from Axios noted, "I am moderating a small breakout session on Thursday afternoon on the future of robotics. I'm hoping it will be a good discussion on an important topic, but I am hardly a featured speaker." Learning – ensuring diversity at every event line-up now is an absolute must. Trying to go back and claim this after the fact, is only going to make it worst. Consider this from the very beginning – be open about the challenges, not defensive, and ultimately make an effort.
So, another year, another CES. What were your takeaways from the show?
The top trends of CES 2018: From almost autonomous vehicles to sensors everywhere