Every year, hundreds of thousands of industry affiliates and innovators flock to Las Vegas to experience the spectacle that is the largest showcase of technology in the world — CES®. For the vast majority of attendees and techies monitoring press coverage at home, the show is all about the next big thing set to revolutionize the way we live and work. But the show is much, much more than this.
It is important to remember that CES is produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ — the premier trade association representing the full spectrum of technology producers and suppliers. CTA’s mission is to promote the consumer tech industry and advocate for laws and regulations that allow the industry to flourish and prevent those that stifle innovation.This advocacy role is CTA’s core mandate and represents an important part of CES that most people don’t see. For our part at Stanton Communications, it is something we have had the privilege to partner with CTA on for three consecutive shows as part of the Leaders in Technology (LIT) program.
Every year, CTA’s government relations staff and a small army of volunteers produce a jam-packed program of tours, panels and conference sessions specifically designed to educate government officials on the importance of innovation and a strong technology industry for the U.S. economy. This is the show within the show at CES, providing hands-on experiences for those in positions to have a massive impact on the speed of innovation in America.
It is essential to remember that nearly every piece of technology making news at CES has a corresponding public policy issue attached to it and it is CTA’s job to explain why overregulation in the tech sector could be a dangerous proposition. What better way is there to do this than to show lawmakers and regulators how fast technology is advancing first hand? The LIT program offers government guests tours of the show floor providing a hands-on look at these amazing technologies, hopefully offering perspective and a greater appreciation for the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that guides the technology industry.
Stanton Communications had the privilege to produce two CES guides to help in this effort — a guide on Drones that details the stratospheric growth in the number of companies participating in the Unmanned Aerial Marketplace at CES and another guide on automotive technology to support CTA’s ongoing Innovating Safety campaign to promote advances in automotive safety technology. These guides are used by the talented team at CTA to inform and educate government guests and focus the expansive CES show floor into something much more manageable for busy elected officials and staff limited to 24 hours to attend CES due to ethics rules.
The 2016 show was a record breaker on multiple fronts. Not only did the LIT program have one of its strongest showings in terms of congressional and state representation, it also attracted two sitting cabinet members in FAA Administrator Huerta and Transportation Secretary Foxx, as well as the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the French Economic Minister and a delegation from the German government. These guests were offered thought leadership and perspectives from industry leaders during panels covering issues such as smart mobility, the IoT, drones and innovations in the FDA approval process. Beyond the LIT program’s offerings the government attendees were able to see some amazing Keynotes from some of the most influential names in tech including CTA’s own Gary Shapiro, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich and Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings.
It is quite amazing to walk the halls of CES and see the amazing innovations that will revolutionize our lives. It is even more impressive to see how a relatively small group of dedicated and talented professionals behind the scenes at CTA can take the CES behemoth and with laser focus, use it to promote its core mission to let innovation in technology thrive. Personally, I am thrilled to have played a small role in the effort and already look forward to next year’s show and the incredible things to come in technology.