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CES 2019: It's a Wrap!

CES 2019 was, as it always is, exciting, enriching and exhausting! But, what did we see and what qualified as expected vs. unexpected? And what does it all mean to innovation partners like Jabil who work hard to bring these technologies and innovations to life and into the hands of consumers?

According to CTA’s (Consumer Technology Association) press release, “CES 2019 proves AI and 5G will transform the future”, and while you can’t argue that these are the big ingredient technologies of today, the truth is, it’s the innovation, inspiration and ideas that use these technologies that will truly transform our future.

So, before we get into the new technologies and developments at CES 2019, let’s just take a minute to understand the sheer scale and importance of the event. 4,500 companies occupied more than 2.9 million square feet of exhibit space, including some interesting first-timers like Proctor & Gamble, John Deer and Raytheon. If every company in the world is now a technology company, then maybe every company in the world should start to consider CES as the right show to kick off their year. It’s clear that each year the show adds more and more categories and industries, driving more inclusion, and in turn driving more innovations.

And it is when all these minds collide, from startups to industry giants, from every industry and from every country, that the magic happens. Seeing the innovation and the application of technology in one arena often sparks an idea in another. Sometimes that can mean an amazing collaboration too, and this year we saw dozens of partnerships unveiled, from IBM and Walmart working together to use blockchain to improve food safety, to Byton and Amazon partnering to bring Alexa into their production car later this year.

Before we got to the show, our very own VP of Strategic Capabilities, Dan Gamota, wrote a blog outlining his expectations for the technology building blocks that would be the talk of the town in Las Vegas. It seems those expectations were largely accurate: particularly as it relates to AI and 5G as the biggest themes. The debate on AI and 5G was kicked off in two keynotes from IBM’s, Ginni Rometty and Verizon’s Hans Vestberg, both announcing partnerships and painting pictures of a world of connected intelligence driven by AI, supercomputers and connectivity so fast and reliable that we start to take it for granted.

Meanwhile in Eureka Park, 1,200 mostly startup companies from more than 50 countries highlighted their value while looking for partners, investors and customers. As always, there was no shortage of innovative ideas and inventions in various stages of development. Some will have a huge impact and others might not make it off the drawing board or past the prototype stage. Getting an idea funded is hard; getting into scaled manufacturing and meeting demand is even harder. We love helping these companies to ideate, develop and manufacture, and we have a team with a remarkable breadth of skills and depth of experience to do just that.

Innovation is alive and kicking all around the world in numerous countries that had groups represented at the show. France was the largest and, not surprisingly, it features an “Innovation Leader” in CTA’s newly released 2019 International Innovation Scorecard, just outside the top league of “Innovation Champions.” The scorecard rates countries on their compatibility with innovation, based on a group of criteria, such as R&D investment, broadband speed, share of women in the workforce, resilience and essential freedoms of thought and expression.

The Innovation Champions listed were Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Representatives from the governments of Estonia, the Netherlands and the UK joined the CTA President, Gary Shapiro, during his opening address to collect their awards. Interestingly, unicorns (companies worth more than $1 billion) come almost exclusively from the United States and China, where more than 250 such successes were founded after 2009. Third, fourth and fifth were the UK, India and Germany with 12, 9 and 7 respectively.

The CTA is putting its money behind innovation with the announcement that it will invest $10 million in venture firms and funds focused on women, people of color and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs.

As mentioned earlier, but well worth a little explanation, is the category of “Resilience Technologies,” a category that CTA sees as increasing in importance and activity. Resilience technologies are those that help to combat the risks associated with cyber attacks, natural and manmade threats, terrorism and more. They are technologies involved in detection, prevention, readiness and response as well as recovery. Smart cities, autonomous vehicles, digital healthcare and a host of other developments require a robust infrastructure and a solid approach to resilience to succeed and meet the expectations of the population safely and transparently.

It was a fabulous week, and we can reflect on an event that, once again, showcased the best of innovation and technology as well as its potential to make the world a better, more inclusive place. Here are our top 10 takeaways:

  • The future of the car is connected, electrified and assisted, eventually autonomous
  • Every company is a technology company
  • Technology partnerships are breaking down industry barriers
  • AI will feature in just about every new product over the coming years
  • 5G connectivity will allow us to innovate and deliver even better solutions
  • Alexa and her digital assistant buddies are likely to become our new best friends
  • We’re in the age of data, where we generate and utilize information at an alarming rate
  • Augmentation is everywhere, be it physical or intellectual
  • Everything is in the cloud, so we better make sure it’s secure up there
  • Innovation and disruption are everywhere – if not ready, it’s time to get there!

From changing the way companies innovate to game-changing building blocks, CES 2019 has been a sensory overload, suggesting this year will be another bumper year of innovation. Jabil is powerfully positioned to help people innovate and deliver that innovation. It is what we do, and it’s a privilege to work with such creative minds and disruptive technologies

CES was a striking foundation for the innovation and change that 2019 will bring, and we’re looking forward to getting to work to enable even more innovation around the world.