Last week, the Consumer Technology Association announced that longtime staff economist Shawn DuBravac was moving on from the organization. DuBravac, who spent more than 12 years at CTA, has started his own venture, Astra Insights, which is described as a growth consultancy, advisory, and tech research firm.
As he prepares to move own, DuBravac sat down with Dealerscope to talk about the move, his time at CTA, and more.
Dealerscope: Frist of all, Shawn, it’s awesome to hear about this new venture. A big congrats to you.
Shawn DuBravac: Thank you, I appreciate that very much.
So what is Astra Insights? Tell us a little about what you’re getting into with this company you’ve founded.
Sure. So I spent over 12 years and really enjoyed helping build up CTA as an organization and helping build up CES as the premier technology event. And I'm excited to build off of that and go into a couple of new directions that I think are probably better delivered by private firm like Astra Insights. So I'm going to be continuing to do a lot of the what I call "trend casting" that I was doing at CTA, helping executives and leadership team see the trends percolating on the horizon and how those large macro trends will impact their industry. So, I'll be able to help companies in a more refined way look at how they're positioning new products, how they're positioning existing technologies where it fits into the competitive landscape and marketplace, and then ultimately how to position themselves and how to differentiate themselves from what is already in the marketplace.
You'll be expanding beyond just tech, or is tech going to be a special focus?
So, I think be one of many areas that I service. I'm already up talking to diverse industries and executive teams and c-level executives in a number of different industries. Tech is now impacting—and especially in emerging tech categories that we're watching—are really impacting every category, every segment of the economy in every industry. And so I think that's where I will be able to really add a lot of additional value, helping some of these more analog industry to recognize how the digital transformation is impacting them.
Are you excited about that possibility of getting you know you know working with people that are beyond the tech space?
Definitely I think there's a great opportunity to work with executive teams and leadership teams outside of only tech. I think there's still a lot of work I'll be doing with tech firms but there's a lot of opportunity to work with companies and industries outside of the tech base as they're being impacted. And I have really noticed that probably over the past year, talking with executives in places like metal fabricators or pharmaceuticals and insurance and financial community as they're being impacted by some of the digital transformation that's happening.
I know it's kind of tough to summarize 12 years in a single quote, but looking back, what do you think your time at CTA has meant to you?
It's been a fabulous run. It was a fabulous opportunity. I'm still going to be, at least in the near term, doing some work with CTA, so I'm happy about that. I clearly have the utmost respect for everybody at CTA from the seasoned leadership team there to some of their newest hires. Extremely smart, insightful individuals who are eager and ambitious and energetically engaged. And so it's just a great opportunity to work with them as they push forward and continue to expand CES and other things. I mean there's been a tremendous number of peaks that we achieved over the last 12 years and I'm very grateful to have been a part of that.
Is there one research report, or one speech, or one CES that stands out—anything that, looking back, you're like, 'Man, I'm glad I got to do that,'?
I think that you are just really almost every year being able to talk about the trends that I saw emerging at CES and evolving at CES and being able to able to connect some of these dots. So many executives are really heads down, focused on their core competencies and don't always look up to see where the trends are going and how they'll be impacted. And think that's the big blind spot for a lot of executive teams, recognizing how these trends that are happening in adjacent spaces will impact them. While I was at CTA, I was lucky enough to be able to write and publish "digital destiny," and that book did and did well and was a New York Times bestseller, so I was grateful to have CTA's support with that initiative and be able to take some of my ideas and put them put them out in that form.
Is there anything you didn't get to do that you look back on and wish you had?
Well you know I think as I look at CES, I feel like there's still a tremendous amount of growth; there's still a tremendous amount of new initiatives that CTA will continue to dive into. And so while I've been thinking about this transition for a while, it was always hard to really commit to it and pull the trigger because I saw, you know, all the awesome and wonderful opportunities and new directions that CTA was pushing. That's the one thing about working in the tech space or working with CTA or being intimately involved with CES is that you get to see that there's always a new area or new initiative just right around the corner. And that's very exciting.
You mentioned that you're staying on to help with CES 2018. What will that relationship involve?
Some of the same things I've been doing I'll be helping them with some of their custom tours and some of their client engagements, helping to continue to service some of the companies that I was working with in my previous role, and just helping to leave them on a solid footing for growth moving forward.
Thinking about all of the CES's you've been to and all of the stuff you've had the shave to see, is there any one tech vertical that that really excites? Even though you maybe won't be looking at it as closely anymore that you're excited to see where it ends up?
I think you know one of the things that CES has done a great job is incorporating new areas of growth as this digital trend has started to hit adjacent categories. And I think that some of those areas where I will be focused—things like smart cities, the transition you're seeing happening with self-driving vehicles, wearables, and everything that is happening in the health and fitness space is exciting, and the broad consumerization of healthcare I think is exciting. So you think about in a very analog industry like health care, it's now increasingly being influenced by technology and confronted by the trends that are that are playing out. So, I think there's a lot of growth there. I'm excited to see where those areas go from a CES perspective. And then from an Astra Insights perspective I think there's a lot of value I'll be able to provide these what you might call legacy industries that are now being impacted by technology.