among us doesn’t enjoy VIP treatment?

This January, the Consumer Technology Association’s CES had an eye-popping 100,000 attendees and another 75,000 media personnel and exhibitors. One week after the close of the show, NACD Colorado Chapter members had their own CES VIP experience of sorts to launch the new decade—without having to set foot on the CES floor.

president and chief strategy officer Erin Essenmacher and NACD faculty member
D’Anne Hurd presented the Colorado members with curated CES content and expert

thousands of exhibitors at CES, Essenmacher and Hurd profiled companies at the
chapter event who met one or more of the following criteria:

company’s tech impact was near- or long-term.The
company featured tech layered with changing consumer trends and/or social and demographic
company had produced partnership-driven innovation.Innovation
was applied at the company level for a strategic advantage.Here are some of the innovations they selected to discuss.

at CES

told the group, “All companies must be technology companies.” In that vein, Delta Air Lines was the first airline
to keynote and have a substantial exhibit at CES in 2020. At the company,
partnerships with Lyft, Misapplied Sciences, and Sarcos Robotics are helping to
transform the future of travel. Parallel Reality technology, now in the pilot
stage, provides passengers with personalized
screen content around a given airport (for multiple passengers on many screens
simultaneously) and in the language of their choice. And the world’s first
full-body, freestanding exoskeleton can be used to minimize employee injury.

Hurd, who grew up in dairy
country, highlighted John Deere
as no longer “defending and extending” but instead being customer-centric. This
nearly 200-year-old tractor manufacturer now considers itself a software
company. On display at CES was a large, high-tech tractor holding a 120-foot
sprayer and sensor boom—one of several new agricultural technology products
highlighted at the show to enhance farm profitability, productivity, and

Companies that
personalize and align their core values to consumers were well represented at
CES. Essenmacher and Hurd, both directors of the clothing brand Eileen Fisher, discussed
the company’s “Vision 2020” pledge to focus on environmental and social issues
as drivers of the business and its radical shift toward personalization. Under
this vision, apparel is not only created and worn, but also reused and, in its
third life, repurposed as home artwork, fitting with today’s more eco-conscious

Photo credit: Erin EssenmacherAdditionally, Essenmacher and Hurd noted the autonomous vehicles looked less like cars and more like “boxes on wheels”—and portend how the future of transportation might impact other ancillary business. Bosch’s CES booth presented the prototype of an all-electric self-driving pod. Toyota, meanwhile, is transitioning from a transportation company into a mobility company; its battery electric vehicle, developed as part of the mobility as a service (MaaS) trend, employs automated driving and an open, low-floor design. Safe Swarm by Honda aims to make traffic safer by using connected car and roadway infrastructure systems.

Overall Takeaways

Lessons from the chapter’s CES session are found below.

All companies must be technology companies.Personalize, personalize, personalize.Align company core values to customers.The Internet of Things (IoT) will soon be the Intelligence of
Things.New technologies require a new kind of risk oversight.At the end of this session, three powerful questions were
posed to jumpstart directors’ strategy conversations with management:

What will our company
look like in the year 2025?How do the trends seen
at CES apply to our company?How do new technologies
change our risk oversight processes?While the Colorado
Chapter members did not walk the CES exhibit halls themselves, the CES program
from Essenmacher and Hurd mirrored the experience with curated content and critical
director-centric observations tailored just for us.

Debra Koenig is chair of the NACD Colorado Chapter.