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Want Innovation? Go to a Tradeshow


By: Gary Shapiro, Contributor
President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association

January 5, 2012

Next week, as it does early each year, the world epicenter of innovation becomes Las Vegas in the form of International CES, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow. More than 2,700 companies display their best ideas to more than 140,000 visitors – reporters, buyers, investors and potential business partners – in several cavernous exhibit halls and hotels. No matter the reason, everyone who attends International CES has chosen to invest precious time and money. Their return is more than entertainment; it is business – and an awesome and inspiring display of the future.

They travel great distances to meet like-minded individuals and discuss the vibrancy, hope and promise of innovation. They come because in no other venue can a company make a profoundly physical statement to 5,000 reporters and analysts, and some 30,000 international business visitors. Yet the distances any one attendee travels to CES pales in comparison to what they would have to travel otherwise to accomplish the same business meetings: the average CES attendee has 12 meetings at the show, which means CES attendees save more than 700 million miles of flight in business trips that they otherwise would have to take.

They come to test the mettle of the people with whom they are doing business, to shake their hands, look in their eyes, and assess whether a company’s product matches a company’s hype. Perhaps most important, they come because relationships matter in business and, despite the worldwide reach of the Internet, a relationship cannot only be electronic. It must be personal.

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