NYWICI “Hot Topics” in 2024: Trust, Trends and Insights from CES, NRF Retail’s Big Show and the World Economic Forum

On Wednesday, February 21st, 2024, NYWICI organized an “Hot Topics” webinar, featuring respected industry professionals. The event focused on the dynamic crossroads of communication and branding, examining their transformative influence on technology, retail and the global economy.

Experienced professionals Margot Edelman, Joanne Trout and Elina Kazan provided valuable insights and distinctive viewpoints gathered from CES, Davos and NRF. Additionally, they explored the consequences arising from the latest revelations of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which was recently showcased to the world leaders at the World Economic Forum.

Collaboratively drawing on their unique insider knowledge and experiences, the panelists have presented and discussed insights on shocking new and rising trends and disruptions reshaping key industries. At the same time, they also offered actionable takeaways about strongly building a business brand and communications strategy for the future.

Linda Gharib, the moderator of the NYWICI “Hot Topics” virtual event, facilitated a thoughtful conversation and contributed to content creation by highlighting NYWICI’s mission to connect, empower, educate and inspire its community members.

While sharing valuable information about how rapid innovation is transforming and influencing society, all of the three seasoned panelists have also shared their observations about the representation of women’s voices and recommendations about how to expand the representation of women’s voices within the impactful conferences and forums like CES, Davos and NRF.

Therefore, let’s begin with mentioning some of the groundbreaking technologies, innovations and shifts within different industries highlighted during the webinar session.

Unveiling the Future: CES and NRF Insights

Business Trust in the Era of Innovation

According to the General Manager of Edelman in New York, Margot Edelman, The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a social paradox: rapid innovation carries the promise of prosperity, yet simultaneously presents risks that may exacerbate trust concerns, contributing to heightened societal and political polarization.

This year was the 24th anniversary of the Trust Barometer: Edelman’s Annual Survey of Trust in Business, NGO, Government and Media. Based on Edelman’s globally studied and analyzed survey, Business emerged as the most trusted institution to ensure safe, understood and accessible innovation.

However, Edelman also said, “the trust levels were not exceptionally high, with business at 59 points, NGO at 54, government at 50, and media at 48.”

Edelman stressed the importance of responsible implementation and adaptation of innovations, as well as the need for businesses to partner for change and address ethical concerns about the rise of the utilization of AI.

“People want control over their future and have an understanding of how these innovations are going to impact their lives because once these are clear factors for individuals to visualize, they are going to be more likely to embrace the innovations and not resist them,” added Edelman, giving an insight to how businesses, scientists and government must recognize that failed management of innovations are going to catch backlash while successful management of innovations are going to be seen as a positive change in the society.

The Rise of Intimate AI

As an active attendee and participant of the Consumer Electronics Show since the 80’s, Joanne Trout, the Chief Communications Officer of Omnicom shared insights about the CES 2024 Conference and how it showcased trending products and innovations in the consumer electronics industry.

“Consumer Electronic Show unfolds in Las Vegas, drawing 130,000 attendees and spanning an expansive 12 million square feet, equivalent to 180 football fields where the event presents about 4,500 companies,” added Trout when describing how gigantic and phenomenal it feels to experience the CES Conference.

Trout emphasized the widespread influence and presence of Generative AI at CES, referring to it as “GEN AI.” The rapid advancement of AI technologies, especially over the last year, has introduced a more personalized and intimate aspect and dimension to society.

Trout illustrated examples from L’Oreal, featuring Beauty AI that evaluates different skin types and provides recommendations for skincare routines. Furthermore, smart toilets offering health analyses demonstrates how AI is reaching into private spheres of people’s personal lives.

“The challenge for communicators and marketers is navigating the fine line between customization and the potential for intrusiveness,” said Trout to explain how it is crucial to learn how to manage the balance of usage for the rise of intimate AI.

Retail’s Dynamic Evolution at NRF

Elina Kazan, the Communications and Content Consultant of the Fragrance Foundation and Advisory Committee of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator highlighted the immense significance of the National Retail Federation (NRF) Conference, in shaping the narrative of the retail industry, touching on its diverse aspects, from food to fashion and online to in-store experiences.

“Boasting over 40,000 attendees and over a thousand global reporters, NRF stands as the epicenter for unveiling trends and initiating trend stories for the year,” described Kazan by also mentioning that NRF’s 2024 theme was, “Get Ready to Change the Game.”

In addition, Kazan expressed how the NRF conference provides insights into shopping trends, consumer behavior and the impact of economic factors on the retail landscape. The atmosphere of the event evidenced to the media, analysts and industry professionals that technology and innovation continues to construct the future while preserving the core essence of personalized and customer-centric experiences such as the rising potential of holographic greetings.

“AI and technology are all part of that customer shopping journey from the minute you step into the store or you go onto a website, but it’s how not to make that customer feel like you’ve encroached on their personal space instead to personalize and give you such a unique shopping experience that they’re creating brand loyalty with,” said Kazan, emphasizing how even though technology is vital for innovation, the delicate balance between personalization and customer privacy is just as important to consider.

“Retail is a key driver of the economy, and it is an industry where one out of the four jobs is in retail so, its power is incredible and you definitely experience that power at the National Retail Federation Conference,” said Kazan, expressing her enthusiasm for the retail industry’s customer-facing dynamic nature and lively atmosphere at NRF.

Moreover, Kazan also discussed about how technology’s impact with the rise of the utilization of AI on the customer journey whether that’s fitting rooms, physical or online stores, delivery experience and more can show retailers to navigate these challenging new trends with realm and sensitivity to acknowledge the importance of crafting a distinctive shopping encounter.


Bridging the Gender Gap: Elevating Women’s Voices

During the webinar, Linda Gharib, Director of Global Brand and Communications at Wolters Kluwer and the current NYWICI Chief Experience Officer has also raised awareness to the panelists to discuss and share their recommendations on ways to amplify women’s voices in these major tech conferences such as CES, Davos and NRF. Furthermore, the conversation touched upon the challenges, initiatives and personal experiences related to women’s participation in these significant industry events.

“Big part of our audience and our NYWICI community is folks who are very career interested and it is important to learn how we can bring more programs and opportunities to help support and prepare these individuals to get involved and be ready on those big stages and conferences,” added Gharib.

Initiatives for Inclusivity

Gharib set the stage by addressing the issue of the scarcity of women’s voices on conference stages, prompting Joanne Trout to share her observations after attending CES.

Trout acknowledged the persistence of male-dominated presence in the tech landscape while also highlighting the efforts of organizations like Female Quotient and the positive impact of the “Women at CES” walk and sharing insights on how there is still a need for more increased diversity.

In addition, Edelman shared insights from Bloomberg’s New Voices Program, emphasizing the importance of actively recruiting and training women for speaking engagements and events like the CES, Davos and NRF conferences.

Edelman also discussed how these initiatives identify and train women in leadership positions, offering media training to ensure women representation in conferences and on TV. Edelman suggested that conferences could also adopt similar strategies to combat the prevalence of All-Male Panels as she in other words referred to it as, “Man-els.”

Trout completely agreed with what Edelman recommended and described her experience at Omnicom, where they hosted a panel with all female speakers, receiving positive feedback and engagement for the refreshing perspective.

The Power of Proactivity

Kazan focused on the role of proactivity on the part of both individuals and companies. Women are encouraged to actively express interest in both attending and participating in these conferences to position themselves as valuable contributors and learn more about the new technology, trends and innovations.

At the same time, Kazan also brought attention to the economic and business dynamics influencing conference sponsorships where companies, in turn, are urged to diversify their talent pool, ensuring that sponsorship and participation extends into fostering diversity, suggesting a broader inclusion of perspectives in panel gatherings.

“There is still work that can be done when you’re looking at the economic and business model of what drives companies forward when we go to these panels and you question where the mix of sponsorships are coming from to make sure that there’s diversity and inclusion on the panels,” expressed Kazan.

Therefore, highlighting proactivity, encoring women to actively seek opportunities, attending conferences and advocating for women’s participation and involvement is key to breaking down barriers and fostering diversity.

Starting Small and Building Leadership

Trout described how proactive engagement, leadership development and initiatives supporting women’s voices are essential elements of the ongoing evolution of elevating women’s representation in these highly prestigious conferences like the CES, Davos and NRF.

“If you are a part of a company or an organization, just knowing what conferences are important to attend, pitching yourself to your team to participate in those events, knowing how to represent the company to the reporters and even sometimes volunteering to put together a panel session and keep educating yourself would be my advice to start,” said Trout.

Edelman advised aspiring speakers to start small and gradually build a track record by suggesting to take advantage of online platforms like YouTube, where individuals can showcase their presentation skills and thought leadership.

Edelman also mentioned how it is influential for aspiring speakers to volunteer presenting at local events or practice self-publishing their perspectives on Social Media platforms like LinkedIn.

“Any opportunity to help improve yourself on getting started as a speaker to participate as a panelist in conferences and events would be a great opportunity because leadership is really important since people want to know that you have a point-of-view and have something to say,” added Edelman.

Based on all the three panelists and their experiences, insights and recommendations, it is evident to claim that the journey toward greater inclusivity and diversity for women’s representation in tech industry conferences requires collective effort. As we reflect on the information provided and shared during the NYWICI “Hot Topics” webinar, all of the participants of the session expressed enthusiasm for the future to have more exciting opportunities in order for women to shape the narrative in their respective industries.

NYWICI continues to help support writing the next chapter by empowering individuals to register for NYWICI opportunities to hear from more unique career experiences and connect with more inspiring professionals and leaders within different industries.

Written by Hande Erkan


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