CES might be the last place you’d expect to see an insurance provider, a mattress company and the USPS, but that’s what makes CES so interesting. Despite rain making half-mile commutes to the Venetian an agonizing 80 minutes plus a two-hour power outage at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the show must go on, and it did.

Every type of company on the planet gathered to tell their tech story this year because CES is the most significant time of the year for innovation. For communicators, navigating CES successfully lies in our ability to credibly tell thoughtful stories of innovation for our clients.

This year nearly 20 Burson-Marsteller global colleagues, representing 10 clients, attended CES. We prepped executives for keynotes, managed crises, wrote scripts, secured media briefings, staffed print and broadcast interviews, ushered favorite reporters from one client’s location to another’s, shared highlights via Snapchat, enjoyed some time together and hosted our annual CES party, this year at Chica Restaurant in the Venetian. While at CES, we noticed some key trends:

  1. The ridiculous: Some companies have invested a great deal in technology without carefully thinking about the use case of their innovation and whether it’s necessary. A lot of media asked our clients to comment on the most ridiculous things they had seen on the show floor, and media shared their own views freely as well. Lesson: Just because technology can do something doesn’t mean it should.
  2. The battle of the digital voice assistants: With voice clearly emerging as the new user interface, Amazon and Google are battling it out to own the biggest and best ecosystem for digital voice assistants. This was clear on the show floor and in closed-door meetings with companies. This will be an interesting space to watch.
  3. We may like VR but we need AR: While VR is expected to continue single-digit growth this year, the augmented reality (AR) industry anticipates double-digit growth due largely to enterprise adoption of AR in everything from aviation to warehouse management. In the VR world, gamification was everywhere, and not just in gaming: We saw companies make games out of teeth brushing and recycling.
  4. We are still keen on smart cities: Smart cities had a major presence at CES and the future of 5G is finally starting to feel real. We’ll expect to see more in this space at next year’s CES.

 At Burson-Marsteller, CES is one of our favorite times of year. We know it is exhausting and sometimes overwhelming, but simply being there helps us see what is emerging in the year to come and to put our hands on some exciting technology. If you are a tech PR pro, I urge you—it is not enough to read about CES, you need to be there. We look forward to seeing you in 2019.

 This post was contributed by Jodi Brooks, Chair, U.S. Technology Practice, Burson-Marsteller.