Written By

Christy Ennis-Kloote

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January 22, 2018

CES Themes 2018: Seeing through the noise and flashing lights

Written By

Christy Ennis-Kloote

Each year, we head to CES, the biggest expo for launching consumer goods, with the expectation to be ‘wowed’ by the awesome and drained by the vast number of suppliers eager to get their products into the market. The usual suspects were definitely in full force; from a wide range of robots to artificial intelligence still lacking maturity, Autonomous Cars to Smart Cities, and walls of TV’s to private audio experiences. The real challenge is in seeing through the noise and flashing lights, which is fitting for Las Vegas, to start to see the nuanced themes of the market today that could provide value to our customers in the future.

Here are three themes that resonated most.

Ecosystems

The large-scale booths have messaging that is as pervasive as the smell of cookies, drawing you in with an all-inclusive package and ecosystem that covers all of your needs in one setting. A clear case in point is Samsung. We historically already know they have a vast product offering. Now, with the addition of Bixby, and enablement through the Open Connectivity Foundation, they can attempt to contain their audience inside their product line by offering add-on value.

LG has created a strong use case for creating a flexible, independent open platform that can connect the ecosystem to Google Assistant or Alexa. Developing their own platform allowed LG to create additional value with connected products that are able to speak to each other with SmartThinQ™. While maintaining a platform is clearly an investment, there is satisfaction and benefits in having the control and flexibility to own the direction of the solution.

Enablement

It takes a lot of chips in the pot and development investment to build an ecosystem, but that doesn’t guarantee a win in adoption. While the struggle to gain an audience is still a factor, now more than ever, getting products to the market isn’t just for the high rollers. Hardware is continually advancing in sensitivity, size, flexibility, and cost, which makes it more accessible. There are many options to get products realized through strong partnerships focused on enablement.   The strongest enabler is in the Third Party Services such as Amazon, Google, Here, IBM Watson, Air Quality Data providers, and more. Partnering with those that have already invested and are eager to build a broader audience to promote their services is a fair way to get to a seat at the table.

Meaning

The real differentiator that some are betting on is in ‘meaning’.  Meaning can be found in meeting an audience where they are to help them live their best life. Additionally, organizations are trying to create meaning by building a story, together with consumers, for a happier, healthier you. To effectively communicate a story and value, many companies are shifting to building a suite of products that tell the narrative from beginning to end, making a point to go deeper in a consumer’s relationship with a product that can grow with them. A product that evolves in meaning and function over time creates a deeper place in the lives of consumers. That factor has a qualitative measure by consumers that most companies struggle to measure quantitatively internally. The rewards can be high, but it also has high risks if the end users are not well understood.

We attend these events to learn and look for technologies and trends that may benefit our clients and their consumers. At OpenDigital, these trends are present in our work, and often interpreted in a slightly different way based on the needs and goals of our clients. We do this through sharing our passion in understanding the need and meaning a product has in an end user’s life. We then look to find the technology that enables the experience and can extend the product offering in a way that doesn’t limit the possibilities to today’s technical capabilities. Reach out to discuss how partnering with OpenDigital can bring value to your project.

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About the Author

Christy Ennis-Kloote is a Director of Product Design at OpenDigital. She is an eternal optimist with a high capacity for details. Her background in Industrial Design, drives her to seek out users' needs and answer them in the execution of the product.

Ennis-Kloote uses her passion for sharing with community as the local leader for IxDA Grand Rapids and as Co-Founder of Ladies that UX Grand Rapids. Ennis-Kloote is also an Instructor at CoLearning for professionals teaching concepts and methodologies of product design through various digital formats from as mobile to desktop applications and embedded experiences.