A new McKinsey presentation at an event called the Bower Forum confirms what many of us in the radio business already know – CEOs (from all industries, by the way) have struggled to keep up with the fast-moving pace of technology.
Not only does this hamper their performance right now today, but portends even more turbulence as tech disruption intensifies in the coming years. All of that is on display as CES 2018, happening right now at Las Vegas.
Beasley’s Buzz Knight calls his feelings about attending the world’s biggest tech trade show “a healthy paranoia.” And that sums up the way most of us feel as we walk the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as the bootstrap innovation occurring at Eureka Park down the strip at the Sands.
But in order to learn, grow, and understand, attending an event like CES is a “required course” for CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and all those other C-suite executives. But it’s hard. CES is a challenging, arduous show to attend. And let’s face it: keeping up with the ever-changing world of tech is not an easy task. Personally, I spend significant amounts of time worrying about falling behind, a fear that anyone in radio broadcasting’s corner office should share with me.
And it’s this way across the spectrum of the world’s companies, whether they’re in media, automotive, retail, pharmaceuticals, and virtually every business category. McKinsey’s take – covered in MediaPost by Jack Loechner earlier this week – suggests “technological change is the biggest, most disruptive force facing today’s corporations.” You can read the McKinsey summary here.
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There’s some solace in knowing that queasy feeling of falling behind or even not “getting it,’ isn’t isolated to radio. At the Bower Forum event, Loechner reports that reading tech blogs, white papers, and research studies are essential in making those tough calls about “what’s relevant and what’s not.”
McKinsey summarizes that company leaders need to transform themselves into “e-CEOs.” It’s not enough to simply hire so-called digital experts and read their reports and recommendations. It is becoming increasingly clear that for a legacy industry like radio, its leadership needs to commit to learning, grasping, and embracing technology.
That’s certainly the theme here at CES, as corporate heads that include Sky’s Emma Lloyd to Honda’s Marcos Frommer advise companies to seek out strategic tech partnerships to facilitate growth for traditional industries – like radio. And as predicted, there was news made at CES, but the story that every radio exec should understand was the announcement that Ford is now partnering with traffic app Waze to provide instant info on their Sync 3 ecosystems. It’s a truly smart connection between two companies focused on mobility. And by the way, so much for traffic and weather together at the 8’s if you drive a Fusion, an Edge, an F150, or an MKZ.
And so I applaud the two dozen radio leaders who made the trek here to Vegas this week to participate in the chaos, excitement, and optimism that defines CES. This is not an easy trip to make, and it’s tough to be away from the office in early January. And to a person, the big takeaway from these radio execs reinforces the importance of embracing and understanding technology, and how it will impact radio in both the near and not-so-distant future.
Aside from our group, there’s no question in my mind that broadcast radio’s strong showing here at CES was record-setting. On the floor of the LVCC, I couldn’t go 10 minutes without bumping into radio people, from CEOs to NAB execs to Art Vuolo and Shotgun Tom Kelly. That’s never happened before.
Much as we’ve tried, it’s impossible to convey the atmosphere that permeates CES to those who’ve never attended this spectacle. Aside from its daunting size, there is a positive energy at CES that is inspirational and challenging. It’s like you’re immersed in the middle of something very important to our businesses, as well as our cities, our country, and the world. And it’s a feeling you bring back home with you, and that you want to tell others about. In other words, “Whoa.”
In the coming days, we’ll be looking at CES from a number of different angles. And I’ll have reactions from the radio executives who attended our tours. And as we learned at C Space this go-round, technology is the distribution outlet, but great storytelling is the content that fuels our media and communications. I’m hopeful our attendees – most of whom were “CES virgins” – will tell their stories to others in their companies, as well as to their boards, their colleagues, and their friends.
It’s hard to imagine anyone reading the McKinsey story is the least bit surprised by their conclusions. The tech gap among CEOs in all industries is a serious challenge whether you’re running General Motors or the nail salon down the street.
So, let’s salute the radio executives who personally made the trip to Las Vegas for CES because we need their numbers to grow in 2019. It was an impressive, enthusiastic showing.
This is how our industry will adapt to the changing times in which we live. Radio needs its leaders to be smart, knowledgeable, and decisive about tech during this disruptive period.
I’ll be happy to tell you about our takeaways from CES in an upcoming webinar we’re putting together in partnership with Inside Radio on January 25th at 2pm ET. You can sign up for it here.
But as our group who lost their “CES virginity” this week in Las Vegas will probably tell you:
“You had to be there.”
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.