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January 15 2019 | Mark Breading

4,500 exhibitors ... 185,000 attendees ... 2.75 million square feet of exhibit space ... hundreds of sessions. That’s CES2019 in a nutshell. The range of technologies and products displayed each year is staggering, making it clear that innovation is in high gear around the world. Products range from the absurd to the pragmatic to the truly revolutionary and cover every area of human endeavor.

2 CES 2019So, what are the biggest takeaways from CES2019? And what do they mean for the insurance industry?

I see six big themes:

  1. Data as a vital resource: New ways to capture, secure, move, store, analyze, and display data abounded at CES. This was perhaps the overarching theme. (Look at a separate blog I’ve written on that topic.)
  2. The adoption gap: Technology continues to advance by leaps and bounds. The potential to transform individual lives and the world at large is great, but in many cases, the products are ahead of customer demand or face serious barriers to adoption.
  3. Technology for good: Much effort is given to using technology to tackle important societal problems. Efficient, responsible, safe usage of natural resources is one focus area. Improving access to healthcare and the effectiveness of diagnostics and treatment is another vital area. Solutions to enable the elderly, disabled, and disenfranchised to participate in a digital economy and live healthy, safe, and fulfilling lives is also an area addressed by many tech companies.
  4. AI is everywhere: There was actually a session with this title, and it accurately represented the presence of AI at the event and in the world at large. There is a clear recognition that the family of AI technologies has great potential alongside big implications that require thoughtful debate and solutions.
  5. Categories are blurring: SMA has discussed the concept of convergence extensively over the last few years. Nowhere is it more apparent than at CES, which featured many products that combined multiple transformational technologies, the overlap or integration of solutions in formerly distinct spaces (e.g. connected car and smart home), and the continual dissolution of traditional industry barriers.
  6. Platforms and ecosystems evolve: The plethora of options in areas like smart homes, fitness and health tech, and connected vehicles creates a demand for common platforms, integrators, and solution packagers. In addition to the big brands that create their own platforms (e.g., Samsung for the smart home), there are increasing numbers of other entrants into the platform/integrator space.  

Every one of these six areas carries implications for insurance – too many to explore in detail in one blog. But another way to express the implications for insurance is through some prevalent, common threads at the event that relate to all six areas.

The words safe, secure, and trust were prominent in sessions, on signage, and in vendor talk tracks. The technology world has become acutely aware of the need to be transparent and responsible in the way they interact with customers. These should be words and themes that are near and dear to the heart of the insurance industry – and areas where insurance should play a major, positive role.


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Mark Breading
Strategy Meets Action