Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Managing a Monumental Meeting of Miraculous, Magical, and/or Mind-Boggling Technology Enterprises

After a few days rest, I write this column/blog with the International CES 2013 Conference that I attended still fresh in my mind.

I went to Las Vegas, Nevada known as the “Sin City” with one specific purpose. It was the same as in previous years – to check out the new products and technologies that were being launched, unveiled, demonstrated, displayed, and exhibited at the International CES.

I was particularly interested in products and/or technologies that would fit the description, “Miracles, Magic, and/or Mind-Boggling Technologies” in the Sin City. It was also my intention to gather some sample products for review. The products could be as amazing in the way they were created and designed; and in their  utility features as they try to satisfy the consumers’ appetite based on necessity, beneficiality, and practicability.

I accomplished my main objective and definitely realized my other intention, at least partially.

I will write about them in a series of articles subsequently.

This week’s column focuses on how the monumental meeting of mind-boggling IT multi-nationals was managed in virtually miraculous or magical manner.  I have been attending the event since the time when Bill Gates delivered the Pre-Convention Keynote Speech. I was an Industry Affiliate being a Chairman and CEO of an IT company. I decided to register and apply as a credentialed member of the Press during the last few years.

I saw it grow every year until it became "the largest in the show's 45+ year history, with 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space. The previous record was 1.86 million net square feet of space at the 2012 International CES. More than 3,250 exhibitors unveiled some 20,000 new products at the 2013 CES drawing more than 150,000 attendees, including more than 35,000 from more than 170 countries outside the United States.” (CEA)

I always took the excellent management for granted. It was like the “Digital Natives” instinctively knowing how to use the digital gadgets. They just take it for granted without recognizing the creativity, the design, the effort, the time and the value of producing the devices.

As I lay down on my bed at my Las Vegas hotel reviewing the recently unveiled products and technologies, the press and social events, exhibits, the awarding ceremonies, the transportation issues and many more details, I realized how CES Management “miraculously or magically” put this gargantuan gathering together with absolute competence, efficiency, and effectiveness.

When Moses (in the Bible) gathered several thousand Hebrews and led them to freedom, he needed Divine Intervention to part the Red Sea in order to escape the charging Pharaoh of Egypt and his soldiers. The parting event was a “miraculous” one.

CEA President Gary Shapiro was as amazing in planning, leading, organizing, and controlling the entire International CES Show, which was subdivided into several smaller events.

CES as a show involves production, marketing, finance, personnel and human resource, technical, legal and socio-political issues. In fact, every event involves similar issues as well.

Gary Shapiro dealt with them efficiently and effectively. However, unlike Moses, he did not require Divine Intervention but proceeded instead with substantial human intervention as extremely efficient and experienced staff assisted him. A Board of Advisors and CEA officers were on hand to help in the management.

International CES and every event occurring is a production. As a production, management has to check the Manpower, Material, Machinery and Monetary requirements in each event.

As a marketing issue, management has to worry about its target market and its marketing mix – product, price, promotions, and places of distribution. Product revenue centers such as major corporate sponsors and partners, exhibitors, concessionaires, registration, and special events must be reasonably priced, promoted and positioned in strategic locations. This year, CES attracted the participation of more than 170 countries.

As an investment or financial issue, management worries about return on investment, revenue increase, reduction in cost, resale value, or replacement costs. I am sure that, like in previous years, CES tackled them with flying colors as it grew bigger.

I am convinced that the CES success story could be attributed substantially to the behavioral approach in management. Dealing with more than 150,000 attendees, 35,000 of whom are foreigners, 3250 exhibitors, and thousands more of the international press, it would really take charismatic leadership and management to get them to absorb and follow the CES’ own equivalent of “Ten Commandments”.

I could easily see that the technical, legal and socio-political aspects of the monumental meeting were not real issues. This is because on the technical side, you are managing a technology-oriented group. On the legal and socio-political side, you are dealing with a host city like Las Vegas who stands to benefit economically, politically, and socially as in previous CES conferences.

The products and/or technologies could be considered “Miracles, Magic, or Mind-Boggling”, but the way the Monumental Meeting was managed was amazingly miraculous or magical.

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