The 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which runs Jan. 11-14, will be interesting this year both as a showcase for how large-scale tech conferences are done and for the content focused on the new work-from-home normal. Some of the sessions next week could be useful for those either building products for this pandemic present or working to complete their shift to to it. 

Here are a few of the sessions that I’m looking to attend. 

The future of work in 2021: Work transformed

This session is likely to showcase what’s already changed and is working and what lessons have been learned. It should highlight the gaps in current offerings to help companies plan for an extended WFH world. This approach is particularly timely as companies come to believe that remote work is less transitory and more permanent. 

The intersection of HR and tech

The companies I work with who’ve been doing the best during COVID-19 outbreak are rethinking HR and see it as less about compliance and more of what it once was — an employee advocate and engagement service. Problems are surrounding work/life balance, depression, concerns about advancement and job security, and managers who just weren’t trained or ready for managing between homes. This session will feature Jacki Black of the Consumer Technology Association and Marc Goldberg from the Society for Human Resource Management. 

The rapidly changing cyberterrain of an interconnected world

Security has become a massive problem, with hostile and even friendly states developing and deploying malware and focused attacks on newly vulnerable executives and employees working from home. This session has Hank Thomas from Strategic Ventures and Steve Grobman from McAfee. Granted, you may not sleep more soundly after this session, but you’ll know more about what is keeping you awake.  

From school to work

I’m interested to see if anyone shows up, given David Alexander and Catherine Cross are presenting it out of the Department of Homeland Security. But the topic is important because it will address how communities can better mitigate risks associated with natural and human disasters like the pandemic.  At the very least, it should provide insight into how the US government is thinking about the related problems. 

The classroom of the future

The speakers for this session are Betsy Corcoran from Edsurge, Dan Avida Engageli, and Sharon Chdradath Singh of the Minerva Project; they will focus on what has been working in education. The focus should apply to traditional schools and company-driven courses designed to expand or improve employees’ skills. We are clearly in a period of rapid change, and every company will need to retrain and update employees with new or improved skills. Learning the working best practices could help those looking to transition their company to a remote future. 

The next big thing: home as the new HQ

Jennifer Kent, from Parks Associates joins my old friend Brian Cooley from CNET and Paul Lee from Deloitte LLP for this session, which focuses on homes becoming the center of work. I still think we are on the path to building Arcologies and wonder whether these folks will agree. They’ll talk about the technologies that can enhance working experiences for those who have shifted from offices to homes.  Homes have become where we work, learn, shop, are entertained, and even go to the gym. 

The future reimagined

Led by Danial Roth from LinkedIn, Michael Miebach from Mastercard, and Julie Sweet from Accenture, this session will look ahead 10 years and talk about the advances that will solve our most difficult global challenges. (I’m looking forward to this session because it gives me hope we’ll still be around in 10 years.) 

Wrapping up

As we move into 2021 and realize that we’ll be working from home for some time, CES couldn’t be more timely. CES is the first show of the year that will talk about what we’ve learned and what’s coming to address this new normal. While there are some things CES could do to use the technology it showcases to make the show better, I’m looking forward to it. 

I’ll report back next week and share what I’ve learned. Until then, stay safe and well. 

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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