Comfortable shoes? Check.
Extra battery pack? Check.
KIND bars? Check.
Plenty of patience? Check.
As you're reading this, I'm off to Vegas for “CES Week” as we officially ring in the new year. Along with Paul Jacobs and Seth Resler, Jacobs Media will be heading up a record-setting three tours for radio broadcast execs. And we're excited about this year's mega-show.
But nunchucks? The weapon of a ninja warrior? What does CES have to do with the mindset and tactical focus of a ninja? Actually, that's the vision of the CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, Gary Shapiro. Gary is more than just the head honcho of all that is CES. He is a thoughtful observer of the world around him, and has authored several books, including “The Comeback,” “Ninja Innovation,” and “Ninja Future.”
At CES, we'll also be joined by Buzz Knight, newly-minted entrepreneur who always has innovation on his mind. Buzz is the guy who initially us into attending CES more than a decade ago. And not long afterwards, Paul and I had the pleasure of getting to know Gary. Over these years, he has been kind enough to speak at several of our events, from the Jacobs Summit to DASH, always generously sharing his insights.
Back in 2017, Jacobs Media started our tour program of CES, working with radio broadcast execs to engage with this conference, and as importantly, new technology and innovation that will impact the business, in 2020 and beyond. The connected car, AI, 5G, autonomous driving, smart speakers/voice, wearables/hearables – all are major innovations impacting our industry that we'll gain a better understanding of this week.
At CES 2020, more than 60 radio broadcasters will be joining us for customized, guided tours. One of totally comprised of NASBA (National Association of State Broadcaster Association) execs – the heads of a dozen state organizations, representing more than 1,000 radio and TV stations all over the U.S.,
And we're sponsoring a working dinner with Erica Farber and RAB Wednesday night with special guest, Ben Arnold, former CTA tour guide, and now industry analyst for the NBD Group.
Beyond our tour, we're especially proud of the fact that hundreds of radio broadcasters now make CES their first stop of the new year. It has never been more important for our industry to grasp the challenges and opportunities presented by the technology that is all around us and its impact on our future. Much of the work that Jacobs Media has accomplished these past few years in the digital, automotive, podcasting, and voice space have been inspired and fueled by our time at CES.
Buzz and I recently had the chance to interview the enigmatic Gary Shapiro to get a preview of CES 2020 – what we can expect to see, hear, and experience. – FJ
Buzz Knight/Fred Jacobs: How is the buildup to CES 2020 going?
Gary Shapiro: We’re excited about how CES 2020 is shaping up – we’re expecting over 170,000 attendees, including 75,000 senior executives and at least 60,000 attendees from outside the U.S. There will be over 4500 exhibiting companies, over 1,200 Eureka Park startups, more than 300 conference sessions and more than 1100 speakers.
I’m also proud of the behind-the-scenes work by our 200 Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® staff. And our Share the Love program allows staff to bring a loved one or family member to the show to help with everything from registration to onsite assistance.
BK/FJ: In the past couple years, we’ve seen both Amazon and Google have increasingly strong presence at CES, especially with smart speakers. Will they both be back and can you tell us anything about their focus?
GS: At CES 2020, the race among market leaders such as Amazon and Google played out. These companies are continuing to develop entire ecosystems for their voice activated digital assistants, and both Amazon and Google will be back this year. Google has exhibit space in Central Plaza, and Amazon has a booth on the show floor in the North Hall of the LVCC (Alexa Auto) and a booth in the Drones Marketplace.
Both will be key exhibitors in the Voice/Smart Assistants product category and at C Space – the home of the marketing, content and entertainment community at CES. Amazon will participate in the session, “The Future of TV: From Primetime to Multi-Platform Package.” Google will provide a key speaker for Diversity & Inclusion: Innovation for All, a new conference program this year, and the company will be a key exhibitor in Quantum Computing.
BK/FJ: Beside the incredible displays at the LVCC, CES has strong presence at several other sites. Do you have a “must visit” venue or area you can recommend to attendees?
GS: At CES 2020 attendees will experience the latest innovations across industries. eSports is a growing area at CES this year, as gaming becomes a more real-time and immersive experience. The new eSports/Gaming conference program will explore the landscape of sports innovation and the emerging trends in eSports, live media, virtual advertising, smart venues, player analytics and quantified revenue.
Sports and gaming tech are now united at the Aria with C Space, an immersive experience where many of the Fortune 100 companies are represented, and you can learn how technology is changing the future of brands, marketing and entertainment. The marriage of these two key communities creates a one-stop-shop that connects entertainment brands with sports leaders and icons.
BK/FJ: How much regarding 5G has evolved and grown since last year's show?
GS: In 2019, 5G moved from trials to commercialization, with commercial launches in the U.S., Europe and Asia. By 2022, the majority (76%) of smartphones shipping in the U.S. will be 5G enabled. This year, 5G is capable of significantly greater data capacity for video and telepresence applications, significantly more connections at a time and ultra-low latency. The U.S. is now in a global race for 5G leadership, and connectivity – delivering anytime/anywhere access and information – and it is one of the driving trends of our time.
CES is the hub for 5G, and the only global event that brings the full 5G and mobile connectivity ecosystem together. Through applications of 5G in industries such as entertainment, digital health and smart cities, carriers and mobile operators will show how 5G’s speed, reliability and efficiency will drive innovation. Tiffany Moore, senior vice president of political and industry affairs at CTA, will speak about how “Tech is Ready for our 5G Future,” alongside executives from Samsung, U.S. Department of State, Verizon and Doctor on Demand.
BK/FJ: Many think of CES as gadget-focused. But the event is often more about larger trends. What are you anticipating at CES 2020?
GS: AI will be the star of the show at CES – it’s truly one of the key ‘ingredient technologies’ over the next decade. The AI & Robotics category has 15% more exhibitors than CES 2019. AI solutions will impact a variety of marketplaces, including smart cities, sports tech, vehicle tech, digital health, robotics and beyond.
Tech for good continues to be a major trend. New this year, CES and the World Bank will partner in a Global Tech Challenge calling for companies to present solutions focused on health, gender barriers and technologies that enable communities to be more resilient. There will be a focus on smart cities and data-enabled decisions that solve public problems, like transportation, public safety, energy and infrastructure.
Digital health is another growing trend. These new technologies are putting patient health in the hands of the patient or caregiver, enabling patients to better adhere to treatment protocols and providing doctors with more data on treatment effectiveness. Digital Health at CES includes a comprehensive exhibit space and dedicated conference programming at the Sands, and the audience will include medical professionals; digital health startups; large corporations in the health care, insurance and pharmaceutical spaces; investors and health care analysts.
CES 2020 will also show how smarter and safer technologies are transforming the travel and tourism industries; now more than ever before, customers’ experience will be increasingly customized and efficient due to new innovations. Privacy is also a focus for this year’s CES, as privacy has emerged as a strategic imperative for all consumer businesses. Business, technology and political leaders will discuss and debate how privacy will shape consumer markets for 2020 and beyond. Apple, Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will discuss the issue of consumer privacy tomorrow (1/7).
BK/FJ: You’re a keen observer of the media and tech space. Any thoughts about how the radio broadcasting industry should be focused as it transitions to a digital future?
GS: I grew up listening to radio. My mother would listen to radio talk show programs whenever she had the chance, and she always told me, “If I learn one thing for each hour of listening, it is worth it.” Radio doesn’t just entertain; it also helps quench people’s thirst for knowledge.
Radio stations need to support a variety of listening mediums – such as voice assistants and smart speakers. Like retailers, radio stations need to go omnichannel. Streaming on the internet is understood, but support for social media and podcasts is critical to maintain an audience and keep them tuned-in.
With the evolution of 5G, radio can reach untapped markets in rural areas, bringing new benefits and opportunities. The radio industry (like all industries) should also be focused on collaboration. In the ninja future, everything is interconnected: things, people, governments, financial networks, and cultures. A breakthrough technology or a piece of legislation that impacts one industry will inevitably impact others.
Special thanks to the CTA's Curtis Kincaid, and of course to Gary Shapiro.
We'll also be scheduling a free “Inside CES Webinar” later this month in partnership with Inside Radio, so stay tuned for date/time specifics. We'll take you on a virtual tour of CES 2020 with an eye on the trends and innovations most relevant and germane to radio broadcasters.