Hey, Google “Did Alexa kill CES as we knew it?”

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Look closely. You will see in this image the epitome of CES 2018. Amazon Alexa, well positioned on the floor with a full year plus of partnerships and integration including CES 2017 where they dominated the strip, floor and discussion. Google, represented here (left, inside the booth), boxed in and relevant only to those who know where to look for it made incredible efforts to be recognized and part of the conversation at CES 2018. They succeeded as voice became the #1 topic at nearly all meetings and cocktail hours. Despite the showing, Alexa integrations and branding was on display 3 to 1.

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Barking “Hey, Google “and “Alexa…” make not a CES. As I reflected on my annual drive back from Vegas, a trip I have been doing for 17 years, I realized the difference between then and now comes down to the value the products are bringing to consumers.

 

THEN:  Back then (and up until about 3-4 years ago), CES was where new, verticalforming innovation debuted, and where products that made us more productive where recognized. (VCR, CD player, flat panel tv, gaming, IP TV)

 

What’s interesting to me here is that, in between each of these innovations, we found a period of time where the vertical was evolving and refining. Flat panel TVs were over $10,000 when they first came out and now you can buy them at Costco for $400.

 

So, where are we right now? Well, I think it is safe to say that 2018 was a year of convenience rather than transformation.

Convenience is what happens when the value proposition is not based on newness or major leaps forward but rather on evolution of the customer experience.

 

Hey, Google… Ask Alexa what is CES?

2017: CES: Consumer Electronics Show

2018: CES: Customer Experience Show

 

Products that were not part of the consumer electronics category before are, by nature of adding sensors or voice assistants, smart and now part of the conversation. The low(ish) cost to add tech to products means an onslaught of newcomers to CES which in-turn pushes the already crowded market into the streets, literally. App makers and artificial intelligence SAAS providers took over restaurants for the week and managed to create buzz alongside their clients, the manufacturers. If you didn’t already see it, a beauty company made quite the splash at CES this year.

 

Thursday morning, after several days of meetings, walking the floor, and demonstration after demonstration, I joined about 100 game changers at the Future Proof event co-hosted by MemBrain and Wunderman (Thank you to Jennifer Sullivan for the invitation). As attendees barely had their first sip of coffee, Cheddar Founder Jon Steinberg wasted no time and started off by posing a profound question about salience. While getting to a different question, Jon addressed the open room asking ‘in a world where 80% of a brand/product’s marketing dollars are spent on Facebook and Google, have we tipped over into a duopoly where a product has limited access to find saliency’? 

 

Just 12 hours later, Facebook made what could prove to be the most important announcement on this topic, addressing the way their algorithm promotes a brand or publisher’s quest for saliency in our personal news feed. This move will bring Facebook closer to its roots and create opportunities for brands and publishers to uncover new angles and platforms in the quest for saliency. Consumers have grown to become addicted to checking facebook (and other apps) enabling a behavior across demographics that is promoting data/information consumption at all times.

 

This attention to the word saliency really struck a chord and the irony was not lost on me as we sat in this room at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) marking for many the end of a long-product development cycle. The efforts of the makers transfers to the marketers and here we were, talking about how challenging it is to find prominence on a social platform against headwinds of record breaking exhibitors and attendees fighting for a moment of their target audiences’ attention. Now put yourself in the shoes of the connected consumer, bombarded by content, clips and facts. 

 

For a second year in a row, I heard, “it all looks the same” and “there is not anything new”. As I commented last year, the innovation is not on the surface friends. We are entering a time where the show looks the same but what you see is not what’s new.

 

The ultimate challenge is to demonstrate the value within to the target customer and that challenge requires understanding and empathy and to do so with clarity. Too many “compatible with” statements may sound great, but the consumer experience gets cluttered and confusing pretty quick.

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The new value of customer experience is predicated on our ability to provide and extract data. That’s scary, right? No, it’s only scary to give over data when you are not getting value back. In a world where time is perceived to be the ultimate currency, convenience is the ultimate value.

 

Amazon and Google have a major role in the future of CES and, frankly, a responsibility to give back to the product makers who have embraced them and put them front and center on the floor. Long-live the spirit of innovation and the future of CES as the expo focused on convenience, experience AND innovation. Change is a good thing and I am excited to see how CES evolves again next year.

Prediction: AR with informed interaction
becomes the key driver to upgrade our phones (and glasses)

CNET captured a great list of notables worthy of sharing here: https://www.cnet.com/pictures/all-the-cool-new-gadgets-at-ces-2018/

Now, a few of my highlights where customer experience created value and where products inspired as seen by @DOTLOT and @THEBUDDYGROUP

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Western Digital and SanDisk have cracked the code for backing up images and videos from your phone or device while on the go, a feature that has become synonymous with the connected consumer, prosumer and mom-a-ratzi.

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@SharperImage is a favorite of mine. I can’t seem to walk through an airport without stopping and spending 20 minutes trying the latest gadgets. Be on the lookout for this smart roller complete with vibration mode. I may have cried a bit while trying this out.

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Yamaha showed off a self correcting motorcycle concept that not only looked amazing, promised to allow you to get to your destination safely.

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The most talked about item at CES this year, the folding machine powered by AI and controlled by voice.

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Want this guy teaching your kid? Someone invested a lot of money to prepare for that to be a reality.

Finally, having worked with Moverio (EPSON) for years, I had to check out Vuzix Blade in person. Where Moverio’s presence was primarily focused on the use of the glasses to maximize the drone flight experience, Vuzix integration of Alexa made the proposition of smart glasses interesting but proof is in the…frames. I am encouraged by Vuzix and hopeful others in the category step up their game to enable unique use cases and provide value to a market hungry for a new way to learn, engage and share.

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I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank may amazing team for all the great efforts to launch @DOTLOT at CES this year. DOTLOT is the only content company engineered for products that evolve. The response has been overwhelming and we are excited to help companies connect the dots between their products and people. www.dotlot.com and jeff@dotlot.com for more information.

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@ces with the team talking connected content

Today, The Buddy Group officially announced the evolution of DOTLOT- the first content company engineered for products that evolve.

I look forward to seeing my team thrive this week as they talk to current and future clients about the refined and innovative approach to educational and marketing content creation, distribution and measurement.

Spinning out DOTLOT allows the Buddy Group to stay focused on helping Brands “Be the Exception” while DOTLOT focuses on addressing the major challenges products face in today’s connected customer/ product relationship. Look for big announcements this week at CES and over the coming months.

If you are a product owner, manager or marketer, please visit http://www.dotlot.com and contact Jeff@dotlot.com for more details.

Excited to see this grow!

@mybuddypeted

A recent report from Forrester found that 57 percent of marketers find it difficult to give their stakeholders in different functions access to their data and insights.

Some of Google Inc.’s products and services are already pretty good at dealing with queries spoken in plain English. We no longer have to type our searches into Google, for example, we can just ask for it and get the answers we need. We can also tell our smartphones to find the fastest route to our destination while traveling and they will quickly display a map with GPS instructions.

Now, the company is bringing this natural-language ability to its Google Analytics service. As of Tuesday, Google Analytics users can say rather than type queries such as “new users from January 1 to May 7” and the service will immediately display that information. It can also handle more advanced questions, throwing up various charts and graphs offering visual displays for all kinds of web traffic metrics.

In order to use Google Analytics’ new natural voice capabilities, users click on the Intelligence button that opens up a side panel. In the mobile app for Android and iOS, there’s a new Intelligence icon in the upper right-hand corner that can be clicked on to activate the feature.

Google is adding natural language queries as part of a new set of Analysis Intelligence tools that leverage machine learning systems to help users better understand their website data. Google said it added the new feature after realizing that even some of the most basic information in its Analytics tools was not easily discoverable for many users.

“We’ve talked to web analysts who say they spend half their time answering basic analytics questions for other people in their organization,” said Anissa Alusi, a Google Analytics product manager, in a blog post. “In fact, a recent report from Forrester found that 57 percent of marketers find it difficult to give their stakeholders in different functions access to their data and insights. Asking questions in Analytics Intelligence can help everyone get their answers directly in the product.”

Some of the other Analysis Intelligence tools include automated insights, smart goals, smart lists and session quality. With regard to the automated insights, this will deliver more information to mobile users that was previously only available to desktop users, Google said.

The company said the new features, including natural language processing, are being rolled out now and will be available to users all over the world within the next few weeks. Here’s a short video from Google demonstrating how it works:

This Is Exactly Why You Should Be Terrified About Amazon

What many people miss is that Amazon isn’t just experimenting internally with new platforms like Alexa, Kindle, Flex, Marketplaces, and dozens of others. The key here is that each of those platforms then empowers an economy of producers to create millions of experiments. In so doing, Amazon passes the cost of experimentation on to producers, receives income for each experiment, and then doubles down on the blockbusters by creating their own competing brand. It’s a brutally effective strategy.

Read the full post by Jon Bond here

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exactly-why-you-should-terrified-amazon-jon-bond

martech sees 16% of budgets

Marketing technology (aka martech) is now a massive industry – and London-based WARC has some numbers on the subject. The market intelligence firm surveyed more than 500 North American and UK brand marketers, finding that the martech marketplace currently sits at about $34.3 billion in annual expenditures for marketers. In other words, marketers are now spending an average of 16% of their marketing budgets on martech, according to WARC’s survey. The firm found that marketers are most likely to use martech tools for email marketing – indeed, about 85% of them are currently doing just that. A majority of respondents also said that they use martech tools for social media, and for managing CRM (customer relationship management) programs.