Know Before You Go: StoryTech Offers Preview of CES 2015

StoryTech Managing Partner Lori Schwartz moderated a CES 2015 webcast “Know Before You Go” on December 3rd. Industry experts discussed key trends they expect to see at January’s International CES in Las Vegas — from emerging areas such as immersive gaming, virtual reality and wearables to the infrastructure, platforms, and applications of a variety of compelling new products. Topics of the webcast centered on digital disruption, personalization, Big Data, the Internet of Things, and much more.

Shawn DuBravac, CEA chief economist covered “The Internet of Me.” He asked, rhetorically: How do CE companies create a unique individualized experience in a world that is increasingly being digitized and captured? DuBravac sees a broadening of the types of companies coming to CES this year. Those companies see the need to participate in this evolving ‘unique, individualized experience’ storyline. For example, cosmetic brand L’Oreal is exhibiting at CES for the first time.

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Mark Kapczynski, CEO and founder of Location X, an iBeacon-based audience tracking and interaction data company, discussed “Transactional Life.” His company, and others exhibiting at CES, track individual consumer behavior, location, and CE-device data across devices and locations. They enable vendors to provide a more targeted, personalized experience to consumers.

Jason Mendenhall, SVP Cloud, SUPERNAP, discussed “Touched by a Sensor.” By 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. Those devices will capture “Little Data” from devices that will be aggregated, processed and evaluated by “Big Data” applications in the cloud. Right now devices are networked. The next wave will involve industries being networked, followed by (far in the future) a networked society. Mendenhall mentioned the paradox that, as we are doing more with less data — and becoming more efficient (for example: storage, processing power), we are doing more with more (for example: gathering and analysis of more data).

Andreas Goeldi, CTO of Pixability, spoke about “Content Gets Down to Business.” With the specter of mass cord-cutting looming on the horizon, content makers and brands are being forced to fundamentally reconsider their development and distribution models, and how to thrive in a digitally-disrupted environment. They must find the online niche influencers and multipliers in order to more effectively reach their audience and grow their business.

StoryTech’s Brian Seth Hurst mentioned “The Modern Millennial Factor.” He pointed to the work on Generational Theory by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Millennials, Hurst said, are a civic-minded, cooperative generation. Their cultural touch-points are not centered solely in North America, and they are founding companies that are shaping the future based on their life experiences.

Finally, Lori Schwartz talked about “Yours, Virtually.” If the world is already well on its way to being digitized, then 2015 is the year it increasingly becomes more virtual, more customizable and ultimately more personal — with areas such as immersive gaming and virtual reality content experiences leading the charge.

After individual presentations, the group was asked what they are most interested in seeing or hearing at CES this year.

DuBravac said that he is most interested in hearing the conversations that will take place around devices. Now that many things are technologically possible, he said, what will be the next wave of valuable user experiences and viable businesses?

Echoing DuBravac’s point, Mendenhall mentioned that he will be watching for the next step in the evolution of tech products; from “that’s interesting” to long-term use cases and “what can I get out of it.”

Kapczynski added that it is less about one particular product than about the broader infrastructure, platforms, and applications for the products. “How will you wow me?” he asked.

Speaking on broader social trends, DuBravac put forward that “sitting is the new smoking.” With more people wearing technology to track and quantify their activities, consumers’ views on how to behave relative to their peers is changing.

Hurst raised the specter of data wars. Who gathers and can be the gatekeeper of consumer data is becoming increasingly important to businesses.

Kapczynski added that, as long as you are transparent, he does not expect consumers to be any more concerned about data being gathered about them then they are now.

Finally, Mendenhall mentioned that, as his daughters’ high school classes are increasingly online, their teacher requires them to meet face-to-face twice a week for group discussions. His daughters say that courses are more valuable when they incorporate face-to-face human interaction.