The tech industry must care about more than 5G and screen size to stay relevant in 2020. At least, thatwas the takeawayfrom Gary Shapiro and Karen Chupla of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) during the CES 2020 State of the Industry keynote address.
Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, which produces CES,, beganhis keynote with the idea that every company has to be a tech company to benefit from the Internet of Things (IoT).
“The future of every successful company involves technology,” added Chulpa, executive vice president for CES at the CTA.
Chupla mentioned already-familiar trends appearing at CES 2020–artificial intelligence (AI), biometrics, 5G, blockchain–but also a few unexpected ones including content, tourism, climate change, and sports tech.
This is a new and broader point of view from an industry that used to put a narrow focus on product details.
“As you walk around this week, you’ll experience how technology has made us safer and more resilient,” Shapiro said.
This year’s event includes: 4,400 exhibitors, 1,200 startups, and attendees from 160 countries and territories, and representatives from all industries and sectors, ranging from including IBM and P&G to the Netherlands and the University of Notre Dame.
This broad scope of CES shows the flip side of that idea: That tech companies must address the same challenges that every other company does: Diversity, inclusion, health, climate change, and even privacy.
Even as recently as 2013, digital health was called “mhealth” and the relatively small exhibitor area was dominated by fitness apps and trackers. Remember the Health Clinic in a Box and the Misfit Shine from CES 2013? Probably not. It’s not that these industries and topics haven’t been at CES before, but they lacked a high profile.
This year, however, Chupla and Shapiro both called out digital health as one of the most important areas at CES 2020. During his keynote, Delta CEO Ed Bastian described a stress tracking experiment with airline passengers which measured the most stressful moments during travel with a fitness tracker.
Here are the highlights from the State of the Industry keynote that show how digital transformation is requiring new partnerships across industries and requiring tech companies to consider the complete social impact of their products and services.
Support for free trade and privacy guidelines
Shapiro didn’t mention immigration, but he did address trade and climate change. At CES 2019, Shapiro announced a plan to track the tech industry’s progress on addressing climate change.
The first report was released in December 2019 and includes areas where the industry can do more to reduce carbon emissions. These are small steps, but they take on a greater importance at a time when the Trump administration is rolling back environmental protections and ignoring climate scientists.
In September 2019, CTA released a set of privacy principles for collecting personal health information. The guidelines are voluntary but it’s a good start. The group also has standards groups addressing energy and self-driving vehicles.
CTA lobbied hard to support the revised NAFTA deal to guarantee open trade among the US, Canada, and Mexico, Shapiro said. He also called on tech industry members to preserve the fundamental rights of democracy, listing Internet access, freedom of speech, and voting rights among the American values that should be defended.
Shapiro continued that that easy access to information and technology by good guys and bad guys has reshaped politics and politicians.”Although there are endless opportunities to use tech for good, every innovation also has the potential for misuse,” he said. “Some policy makers want to slam the breaks on innovation, but as old institutions change, we can’t be paralyzed by fear.”
Shapiro listed many promises of technology includingsafer and healthier lives but also recognized that “privacy will matter.”
“We need a smart government approach to emerging technology that sets the guardrails and allows businesses to experiment and innovate,” he said. “We have to think through the implications of technology so we can all thrive.”
World Bank global challenge to speed up tech innovations
In another unexpected cameoShapiro announced a new partnership with the WorldBank, which supports the idea that technology should benefit everyone–not just rich people or people in western countries–
CES and the World Bank announced three challenges seeking scalable innovations in:
- Climate change
- Digital gender divide
The health challenge is open now and aimed at solutions that will speed the adoption of tech innovations in East Africa.
The winners will get $1 million in funding and connections to local partners. Winners will be announced at CES 2021.
Innovation scorecard and business-friendly states
Shapiro also shared CTA’s latest Innovation Scorecard and reported that internet access improved in every state. Fifteen states earned the report’s highest ranking this year of Innovation Champion. The list includes:
- New Hampshire
Ten more states improved their scores on criteria that measure how states “educate their populations in critical scientific and engineering fields, maintain friendly tax policies, and give innovators freedom from burdensome rules.”
“What you do as a state helps you compete and helps you attract innovators and entrepreneurs,” Shapiro said.
Arizona is considered very friendly to companies developing self-driving cars because the governor issued an executive order allowing fully autonomous cars on public roads. Time will tell if CTA updates its scorecard criteria to include protections for privacy and safety.
CTA is planning an international version of the scorecard in 2021.
Impact of automation on jobs
Shapiro also touched on “unease about the jobs of the future” among many Americans– a nicer way to describe the impact of automation on many existing jobs.
“Our industry has a responsibility to prepare workers for disruption,” he said, stating
that the CTA and its member companies are committed to developing and scaling “new collar jobs,” including signing the “Pledge to American Workers” developed by the Trump administration.
“Sixty CTA members have pledged $2.5 million in education and training opportunities which represents about 20% of all pledges that the White House has received,” he said.