Why B2B Brands Should Pay Attention to CES

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Why would a Business to Business brand ever attend the Consumer Electronics Show? I’m asked this question by my clients every year, and this year did not disappoint. Here are three reasons why CES matters for B2B brands and why you should attend on behalf of YOUR brand.

To find partnerships

Brands have long wrestled with the buy vs. build decision when it comes to adding new capabilities to their core offerings. CES brings out tons of niche experts who have mastered single tasks that are ripe for partnerships or acquisitions from larger brands. A few that stood out:

  • Alexa for Business is approaching the point at which brands need to embrace the service, or be forgotten. Amazon offered a focused booth experience showing a plethora of existing brands who have integrated Alexa into their own core offerings.
  • Empath offers an AI capability that detects emotion from callers into call centers. This could be used to help prioritize call volume and route callers to employees who are best able to serve them.
  • Tiptap delivers a frictionless payment method for non-profits. This could be a low-cost way to upgrade a point of sale system for and test contactless payment methods before making large-scale infrastructure investments.
  • Sleep Score Labs captures objective, biological data from sleep aid devices and uses that data in unbiased reviews for potential customers. This clearinghouse approach to product reviews has a lot of potential; it wouldn’t be surprising to see this scale into other products and services.

To keep internal costs down

Saving money isn’t just for consumers. Brands are always interested in keeping their internal costs down, and several exhibitors had compelling offerings on display.

  • Gradiant offers a product called Valida that delivers fraud detection for electronic documents. The ability to auto-magically detect falsified documents from both customers and employees helps to keep internal costs down.
  • Pivot is a smoking cessation program that offers users small steps towards quitting smoking. Employers could offer these to employees to help drive down insurance costs.
  • Selvvy checkup fills the gaps between annual checkups with continuous health monitoring to identify early signs of potential future healthcare concerns. By providing these to employees, overall healthcare plan costs could decrease due to early intervention and/or preventative care.

To learn about the experiences of the future

Gone are the days when you’re measured against competitors only within your vertical. Brands are now compared with the best experiences a person (whether consumer or business user) has, period. Several brands approach “magical” levels and have raised the bar at CES, with new products that reset expectations for people across the consumer and business spectrum:

  • Healbe is a wristband that tracks calories through your skin. The mechanism is admittedly unclear, but the magical nature of the offering removes friction from a task that resonates with many New Year’s resolution-makers.
  • Whirlpool’s smart wall oven offers an augmented reality experience to take the guesswork out of cooking. The sleek and elegant design notwithstanding, the true magic of this product comes to life as it guides the user through the cooking, timing and positioning process to create the perfect meal.
  • Orcam offers a tiny camera that can sit on a jacket lapel and identify what the user is observing. Originally intended to help the visually impaired, it wouldn’t be a stretch to apply this to any situation in which an observer receives supplemental information based on a knowledge database.
  • Icare drives even more friction out of paying by embedding near field communication technology into a ring. Imagine if this becomes a wallet, enabling you to add multiple “cards” so you can pay for your coffee, the subway and more with just the wave of a hand.
  • Smart IoT Labs offers a smart assistant for smart assistants that issues commands on your behalf to Alexa or Google based on your past behavior, which admittedly sounds a bit bonkers, but makes sense in a world where new aggregators now aggregate the aggregators.

CES is always filled with inspiring speakers and events, but the true measure of success for this marketer comes from uncovering unexpected and actionable opportunities for my clients. This year did not disappoint, and I’m excited to turn this newfound magic into reality.

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