Looking into the future is not possible without reflecting on the past year. The Corona pandemic, injustice and brutality leading to the social movement Black Lives Matter, a long debate over fake news and of course global climate challenges. All this has largely affected what’s important in life and how we resonate with brands and products.
At the same time, you could argue that technology has been a stabilizer in all this. The boom of meeting platforms, opportunities for online shopping, robotics delivery, money transfer, smart cities development and of course the speed of vaccine development!
So, experiences from the last year have definitely made us aware of what’s important. As employees, we – to a larger extent – prefer to work with companies that treat us well, contribute to society with a culture that is respectful to people, partners, consumers and mother earth. As consumers we are more aware of brands’ purposes, companies’ true values and how they play part in the solution of tomorrow’s global challenges. 2020 definitely contributed to increased awareness of those values, affecting industries and companies.
As we are looking for meaningful experiences that resonate with us, it was interesting to see how successful companies increased their effort to understand what’s important for their target audience. A few companies stood out, amongst them Nike. Their effort during the pandemic shifted from selling to engaging. By truly listening to their audience, they picked up on the frustration around the US election. They refined how they spoke to social injustice and how they think about equality. By engaging in a way never done before, they initiated actions to get people in underrepresented areas to register for vote. That shows an interesting engagement and an innovative approach to what’s important for their customers. Nike also got the most engagement for their 2020 social post requesting people to stay home. “If you dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside. Play for the world”.
Another interesting company described how they have changed their approach within communication. With the pre-launch of the all-electrical super truck Hummer EV, General Motors changed their way of acting completely. They’ve left the traditional approach where the top technical director tells the audience what’s interesting about this vehicle. Now they activate several engineers who co-create messages and interact in a more dynamic and relevant way with their audience. It all starts with GM’s strong vision of Zero emissions and Zero accidents in 2030. The answer to this is of course in part electrification. But it is also a giant step in vision and a clear target that’s necessary to make the organisation change their behaviour.
When it comes to innovations, all segments were represented. Smart homes, automotive, agriculture, entertainment, sports and gaming, smart societies etc. Due to the pandemic, digital health was naturally more highlighted. Sensors that measure blood pressures and other details inside your body, smart mirrors with skin analysis, hanging smart lamps for senior living that detect falls and asks the resident if they are alright and much more. For interaction with consumers the entire health sector depends on consumer data. According to a US survey 38% of the participants said they will not use health related applications due to lack of data trust. As many as 50% did not trust the big technology giants. Regardless of industry, this is definitely something you need to address.
And talking of data. Speed, connectivity and reliability is critical to release the power of new innovations. 5G and AI is what’s needed to truly build smart cities, autonomous vehicles and a connected society, including smart industries. Interestingly Ericsson now has approximately 130 commercial 5G-contracts in 40 countries and growing. This year, CES showed that applications based on 5G and AI are now starting to take off. Verizon, one of the largest technology companies in the world, showed several applications within entertainment, sports and culture that are up and running or will be during 2021. Finally, we start to see proof of 5G-applications going live.
We also followed interesting discussions on how technology can be used to identify emotions in several situations. Within a bidding for instance, it will be possible to judge if your opponent will put forward a proposition. Therefore, you can estimate the likelihood of a closed deal. Another example is in health care where it can help judge if a person is likely to commit suicide – valuable and potentially life-saving information when choosing treatment.
The overall feeling is that this year’s CES showed more matured solutions based on what we have already seen in past years. More of applied technology rather than groundbreaking innovation. 2020 was the year where we started to use technology and really push digitalisation forward based on enhanced technologies.
We’re looking forward to participating live in Las Vegas next year. Hopefully we will experience exciting innovations never seen before. If we believe Verizon and other 5G partners, the current speed of rollout will increase and become the foundation for tomorrow's society already by 2022.