Need 5 Reasons to Justify a CES Trip? Here You Go

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CES logo Credit: Courtesy Consumer Technology Association
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Officially, CES 2017 runs from Jan. 5 through Jan. 8, 2017. That's Thursday through Sunday, so Las Vegas weekend rates apply. To maximize your CES investment (and to help you financially justify a weekend in Vegas), here are five reasons CES 2017 will be awesome.

1. People
CES is the largest trade show in North America. Attendance over the past few years has hit around 177,000, and the show is growing in popularity. As Yogi Berra once said, "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." But it's not the number of people who attend that makes the show awesome, it's the quality. No matter the industry, if it is touched by consumer technology, you will find a core group of industry leaders doing something awesome at CES.

I have not found a better inter-industry networking environment anywhere. In truth, the show is so big, you may need some help making it smaller and maximizing your time.

2. Trends
Of the many valuable things about CES, one of the most valuable is what you feel when you walk the show. If you give yourself a chance to experience the CES floor, you won't need charts or graphs to understand how the major manufacturers see the future. You won't need industry stats or sales figures to compare their investment strategies. You won't need deep technical analysis of their various offerings. The size and shape of each exhibit and its location, popularity and attendee engagement will provide a personal, visceral reference that will inform your understanding of the biggest players, what's coming to market and when. You just need to be there.

3. Seeing into the Future
"I don't need to go to CES; there's nothing new this year." I beg to differ. There are all kinds of new things at CES every year. First and foremost, attending CES will help you see about 36 months into the future.

Short term, you'll see what's coming to market in the next holiday cycle. You'll get an up close, personal view and an intuitive understanding of upcoming advertising budgets and brand investments. You'll also get a pretty good idea of how the industry thinks about consumer adoption of the next iteration of existing devices, as well as the industry's plans for new devices.

Longer term, you will see prototypes of devices based on chip sets that are just being shipped. This knowledge will help you understand the marketplace and potential consumer empowerment from 18 to 24 months out. You will also see concept devices based on prototype chip sets that will help you identify and plan for what's coming 36 months out. Importantly, you'll see all of this in one place.

4. Understanding the Past
What failed? Why? What was the big story last year? Is it an even bigger story this year? What technology was set to conquer the world two years ago and came up short? If you attend CES each year, you not only start to emotionalize important trends, you get to intellectualize important failures. Over time, you learn to filter the hype and cut to the heart of each offering. Will this innovation change consumer behavior? Will people find new money to purchase it with? Is this a parlor trick or a paradigm shift? These are all questions you can efficiently answer for yourself at CES.

5. Cool Stuff
CES is purpose-built to delight your inner geek. The wow factor at CES cannot be overstated. It's big, loud and full of cool stuff. If you think you've seen it all, CES 2017 will surprise you. Each year, offerings fall into three general categories: (1) Perfect examples of the aphorism, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should." (2) "This is important." And (3) "Holy ____! That's cool."

The beautiful thing about CES is that your list for each of these categories will be different from mine -- which is reason enough to attend.

Author's Note: Full disclosure, my company provides official CES tours and tech briefings.