OMD Worldwide's new strategy chief on a roadmap for finding the future at CES

Chrissie Hanson, OMD Worldwide's newly named chief strategy officer, shares her predictions as well as her roadmap for translating four hectic days in Vegas into insights that will enable better decisions, faster, for marketers.

CES is the ultimate amusement park for adults with a passion for cars, consumer electronics, and all manner of gadgets great and small. The insatiable desire to see, hear, and touch the future drives the crowds to Las Vegas at the start of each year in search of the next big thing, an eager audience for four days of pronouncements about products for which developers will claim game-changing impact on how we live, work and connect with the world.

Some of them might even turn out to be true.

Having attended CES for the past 5 years and walked the floors of both Tech West which contains emerging technology (think health & wellbeing, smart home, wearables) and Tech East which contains vehicles, AI & robotics, drones, gaming, Augmented Reality & VR, wireless devices & services, I have learned three things:

  1. Always be consumer obsessed. You must consider whether that new shiny object is really going to answer the unmet needs and wants of the end user, if you want to figure out whether it will move beyond sizzle to substance.
  2. Go in with a set of hypotheses. I always join a curated tour because it helps me assess -  on our clients’ behalf - which technologies can be harnessed to build more valued and valuable relationships between brands and consumers.
  3. Search for the signals that link technological changes to shifts in behavior. At OMD, we track the shifts at CES from year to year, and for 2019 year we have identified five areas that hold the most significant opportunities in the year ahead:

Voice: Voice will become omnipresent as almost all hardware will contain some type of voice control. There will be differences in the level of sophistication, so we’ll see a distinction arise between voice-activated devices and voice assistants. Consider expanding your Voice Strategy to take into account these distinctions, and think about how storytelling itself can become richer and more layered. It may be time to determine the most appropriate voices for your brand, adding the human element to the mix.

Auto & tech: While semi-autonomous vehicles will grab the lion’s share of headlines, the release of new features such as in-dash payments, safety sensors, and voice connection to the smart home offer a more tangible view of our immediate future, through the expansion and integration of the moments of commerce and convenience. As manufacturers support a more connected and continuous experience from home to car to work and back again, we will see an accelerated integration of converging technologies into peoples’ lives.

Augmented reality: We have heard from some time about how AR will change the way we learn and work. This CES will be no different; there will be more hardware (glasses), and demonstrations of its stretch into the B2B space with training and manufacturing. Moreover, AR will be shown in B2C contexts, supporting data visualization, entertainment, and content connectedness. While AR devices have yet to reach scaled levels of usage and adoption, we’re well past the point of touting its newness, so be clear in your purpose when using it.

Wearables: Here lies the intersection between medicine, wellness and sports performance, biometric monitoring and training optimization. The democratization of advanced technologies in sport tech has driven the growth in the wellness category, and people are taking a keen interest in the data streams created by their bodies. The level of personalization available through wearables is vast and to operate effectively in this space it’s critical to consider the mindset and motivation of the consumers when they’re in this space. 

Smarter homes: Every year, the smart home becomes increasingly sophisticated – and this year I’ll be interested to see how the home can offer a calmer oasis; how it can aid the pursuit of well-being and self-care.

If you want more than a heady rush from the array of fabulous gadgets, enter CES with purpose, with the intent to turn your observations into meaningful action, to make better decisions, faster.

Chrissie Hanson, a key player in OMD's closing 2018 with a combined $2.6 billion in new and retained businessis, was recently named chief strategy officer for OMD Worldwide. In her new - and newly created - role, Hanson will be building a global blueprint for leveraging Omnicom's people-based precision marketing platform (Omni), designing a process that marries evidence- and data- based solutions to a profoundly empathetic view of the consumer. 

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