Royal Philips Consumer Electronics CEO Gerard Kleisterlee issued "a wake-up call" to the industry at CES to simplify technology and put the consumer first when developing new products and setting governmental technology policies.
Kleisterlee spoke at the Consumer Electronics Association's Leaders in Technology dinner, which was co-sponsored by TWICE, and held at the Bellagio Hotel. He put consumer electronics manufacturers on notice to "start making things easier for consumers or we will never see the real promise of the digital revolution come to life."
Although generally optimistic about the industry's future, Kleisterlee said, "I see some dark clouds in front of us, and we really need to work on clearing them if we want to build new sustainable businesses. This also calls for new ways of thinking and working that will lead to entirely new business models for our industry."
In developing new products, Kleisterlee said manufacturers must be cognizant of the "behavioral point of view" of end users.
"We need to better understand what people really need and how to bring it to them so that it fits into their changing lives vs. forcing them to conform and adapt to our products," he warned. "Our anytime, anywhere, instant gratification attitudes are not conducive to reading manuals and deciphering complex technologies. Technology needs to be more intuitive. It must meet a direct need and add value."
Additionally the industry must become more effective in communicating the benefits and uses of new technologies and stop expecting consumers to figure them out for themselves.
"When did we decide that it was OK to ask consumers to figure out what 802.11 meant?" Kleisterlee asked. "Rather than figure out the best way to communicate, we just throw it out there and see if it seeps through."
He suggested three rules be followed in developing and marketing future products.
Be singularly focused on the consumer;
Make every product easy to use and understand;
Make sure it adds value.
"Overall, I think we need to employ more anthropologists and fewer technologists," he said. "We need to make sure technology is accessible to everyone, regardless of their comfort level."