While the Consumer Electronics Show attracts key players from major technology firms around the world, the event is ultimately all about small business.
The event — held in Las Vegas during the first days of the new year — represents US$287 billion in consumer technology, but 80 per cent of the 2,200 member companies are small businesses and startups. CES provides them with a platform to compete with the biggest players in the industry, helps them identify key trends in technology and allows them to explore the latest products to better run their business.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways for SMBs from CES 2016:
The small business/startup community’s foothold on the world’s biggest electronics show has grown steadily each year, as witnessed by the rapid growth of Eureka Park, the area of CES designated for emerging companies. Eureka Park has grown steadily since its inception in 2012, and in 2015 played host to 375 small business exhibitors. This year, 500 came to showcase the latest products to emerge from the small business technology community.
The products unveiled at CES typically range from revolutionary to utterly impractical, but this year’s products had much to offer small business owners interested in upgrading their technology. Lenovo unveiled the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, which comes with a 3-D imaging module that turns the tablet into a 3D scanner and a Pico built-in projector for mobile presentations. Honorable mentions go to HP’s answer to the MacBook with its line of EliteBook Folio notebooks, unveiled during CES. The aluminum-clad US$999 laptop includes Intel Core processors, fast PCIe solid-state drives and 8GB of RAM.
Though there’s a significant cost for exhibitors showcasing their products at CES, the wave of publicity that some startups enjoy as a result of their inclusion at the event more than justifies the price of admission. One startup that made a particularly large splash this year is Ehang, whose manned drone has appeared in media ranging from Forbes to Time Magazine and CNN. Getting into major media doesn’t necessarily require a Jetson’s-like exhibition of futuristic technology either. Inc. hyped up 7 amazing startups showcasing products at CES, International Business Times covered CES 2016: Small startups gain big exposure and CBC covered 10 new consumer gadgets that will amaze or bewilder.
Above all, CES provides startups and small businesses an opportunity to scope out the up-and-coming trends, and learn more about their market, their competition and consumer expectations. If this year’s showing is any indication of major trends in the coming year, hot topics will include 3-D printing, drones, connected homes, health tech, virtual reality, smart cars and wearable technology.
Now that CES 2016 has come to a conclusion, small businesses should seek to learn more about these emerging trends and consider ways to incorporate them into their products or business operations — as they will come to play a more prominent role in the market this year.
Logo courtesy of CES