January 12, 2016
Presenting and hosting a panel on digital transformation at this year's CES gave me the opportunity to wander the 2 million square feet of exhibit space and assimilate some of the changes coming our way:
Welcome To The Age Of Invention. For me, the most exciting aspect of CES is the sheer volume of innovative, inventive startups that are tapping into the power of sensor-enabled technology to create new products and services. Many of these companies are funded through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, gofundme and indiegogo. The pace of innovation will accelerate as high-school kids use their fertile imaginations to tap into the technology that’s now second nature to them.
The Internet Of Things Will Fuel Rapid Digital Transformation. Based on the sheer volume of internet connected devices coming on the market this year, we’re going to see an explosion in the Internet Of Things (IoT). Everything – from wearables that track everything from your health and fitness to the temperature of a newborn child, and in-home appliances that interconnect to create a home environment tailored to your preferences – everything is now designed with sensors that collect data that's used to deliver better customer outcomes. Or at least that’s the promise. Sensors can and will improve our lives – giving us more data and insight about our environment and allowing us to tailor experiences to be more finely tuned to our personal desires. The data provided by the sensors in the Internet Of Things is the fuel for further digital transformation.
Our grandchildren may never take a driving lesson. As someone who loves to drive, I find the promise of autonomous cars disheartening. But it’s almost inevitable that self-driving cars will become common-place within the next ten years. And once people have a taste for the advantages that self-driving cars can deliver, the adoption rate is likely to be high. But the true benefits of self-driving cars will only be felt on roads dedicated to self-driving cars – so we can expect HOV lanes to become self-driving lanes in densely urban areas. All the major manufacturers are working on self-driving technology. We’re going to see many of the benefits of the advanced R&D trickle into cars in the next few years as accident avoidance features become the norm on new vehicles. But one thing on display at CES that didn’t resonate for me is the fight car manufacturers are taking on to make the car the digital control center of our lives. Manufacturers want us to connect everything at home to our cars so we can control it all from our driving seat – and in doing so they hope to gain greater insight to our lives. But I don’t want to have to make my car be my digital hub; instead I want to use my smartphone – after all, my phone comes everywhere with me … my car doesn’t. Car makers need to build into their designs the ability to simply plug our phone into the car and use it as the CPU for our heads-up display, highly integrating into the cars own on-board systems. That way, whether I’m driving my own car, my wife’s car, or a rental car, I still get my personal driving experience.
Drones Will Fly For Business. The sheer number of drones on display at CES was mind-boggling – everything from insect-sized drones to drones big enough to shuttle people. Drones are already delivering benefits to farmers around the world – making it easy to monitor land, crops and livestock from the farmhouse. While many use-cases have yet to be dreamt up, I have no doubt drones will change many aspects of business in the next five years.
Augmented and virtual reality will digitize the world around us. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are potentially the most disruptive technologies for business in the near-term. While new VR headsets from Occulus, HTC and Samsung dominated the media buzz at the show, augmented reality headsets will change how businesses operate. AR will allow a few skilled personnel and/or artificial intelligence systems to remotely guide relatively unskilled employees in the field and even consumers at home. And as I wrote earlier in 2015, AR has the potential to transform the retail shopping experience. Not to be outdone, VR will transform businesses like tourism, allowing us to preview that vacation we’ve always dreamed of by walking around destination hotspots through VR. And how about checking a cruise ship by walking around it through VR? 2016 will be the year VR an AR make the move beyond gaming.
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