2017 marked both the 50th anniversary and my first attendance to CES. I couldn’t have been more excited to see it all in action. Whilst it seemed nearly impossible to experience every single inch of the vast booths of new tech, entrepreneurs, and titans of innovation, the OMD Word team and I eagerly explored as much as possible, gaining several thousand steps on our wearables in the process.
It comes as no surprise, CES delivered on being a fantastic incubator for viewing trends within innovation. As these trends reach mass consumers, social media becomes the hotbed capturing consumers’ responses and participation within these trends. Three key themes continuously bubbled up to the top when walking the conference. While not entirely new to the world of CES, these themes have the capability of reshaping consumers’ behaviour on social media. We’ll call them the three A’s of CES 2017: Autonomous, AI, and the prospective bell of the ball, Alexa.
First up, Autonomous
Autonomous cars increased in sophistication and the metaphorical road got way more crowded this year. After achieving the ability to take consumers from one place to another, the focus expanded to how these vehicles could communicate with each other making transportation even safer and more efficient by reducing traffic buildups. How consumers will occupy their time once the physical act of driving is removed as a necessity still remains to be seen. But it allows for a variety of entertainment and connection opportunities via a new touch point of consumers’ attention.
Throughout the conference, AI weaved its way across robotics, to self-driving cars, to health and fitness, and everything in between. With the ever-growing surge of big data, 2017 AI fosters personalization of experiences across robotic home companions, sleep technology, and intelligent assistants. Even better, the more these AI devices learn and interact with consumers the smarter they become. This especially rings true within health and fitness, where there was a large presence of ingredient brands to grow the market of bio feedback. Gamification of health and fitness nurtures the socialisation of precise bio feedback potentially popping up on social platforms, as consumers have increased motivation to do better and beat out their friends and family.
With the rise of voice activation technology, such as Alexa, consumers will be given new tools and ways to connect within their social spheres generating new types of shareable content. Both editorial publishers and social platforms alike will be responsible for finding the interesting and compelling way to share the new consumer experiences. Practically at every turn, companies were trying to dovetail voice activation tech, Alexa specifically, to their products in conventional and unconventional ways. Voice analytics, including emotional tracking through voice, was lightly sprinkled through the conference creating opportunities for consumers to deepen their understanding of their social interactions both within the physical and digital world.
As the three A’s of CES 2017 continue to trickle out to mass consumers, cultural adoption of connected, intelligent devices across multiple touch points within their lives will advance. With the ease of connecting to everything and the sheer immediacy of it, one hypothesis I have is consumers’ social platform behaviours will start to merge and be less siloed. Consumers’ mindsets will shift from needing to share a specific, individual piece of content across a specific social platform, to having a multi-pronged experience to share across their social ecosystem. In this collapse of the more traditional existing social silos, social platforms will need to adapt to the new consumer demand of a social ecosystem rather than an echo chamber. However in the true spirit of innovation at CES and perpetually dynamic nature of human social behaviours, only time will tell if I’m right or wrong.
Similar to previous years, the social platforms themselves got in on the action of CES.
Facebook lead the pack as the “official” social media partner of CES 2017. Pumping out exhaustive editorial content, on-site interviews, and virtual tours, Facebook served the role of a crucial resource of information for attendees. Not surprisingly, Twitter was not going to let the Facebook relationship go unanswered. Continuing to position themselves as the real time platform, Twitter showed up with prominent on-site branding and a heavy focus on live streamed content, on the heels of their announcement of 360 live videos.
All in all, CES 2017 did not disappoint and perfectly served up the recipe of its 50 years of success. Our industry moves fast and in unexpected directions sometimes, and CES continues to be the conference where we can get together to be delightfully surprised and inspired.