It seems like wherever you turn the past week, there is coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016. This year's innovative display spread across more than two million square feet of Las Vegas. In most cases, the focus of each article is on which gadget will be remembered as the coolest created, for a reliable example, http://www.shellypalmer.com/2016/01/the-top-10-things-at-ces-2016/. We decided that rather than giving the same old top 10 list, a focus on a few major trends we saw throughout the show floor and within the various keynote addresses might be useful.
Everything, and I Mean Everything is Connected.
The Internet of Things (IoT) was introduced a few years ago; however, it has reached ubiquitous status at CES. At every turn, there are sensors providing users the ability to monitor an unbelievable amount of stats. Even Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) mentioned that of the 20,000 new products being introduced during CES, 75% or more have sensors. After walking the floor, I think 75% is low. From activity trackers, car seats, water bottles and refrigerators...the focus on remote monitoring is everywhere. "Much like our younger generations who have never known life without the Internet, the next generation will have no concept of a world before IoT," says Shapiro. In the industries we serve, we are already monitoring hardware and the networks they sit on. Now it looks like the rest of our world is catching up. Additionally, the end users we all serve will only get more demanding of the instantaneous ability to access information to run their businesses. This means we cannot rest on our laurels; we must be innovating and staying ahead of that expectation.
It's Not About the What, It's About the Why.
In an environment that is filled with the best of the best technology, it's easy to get focused on the feature set and how it improves upon its predecessor or the one offered at the next booth. However, the attention was much more on what problem was being solved. For example, Intel, the granddaddy of cool technology, was showcasing the human side of technology. They recognized that everyone loves a new toy, but the way to a person's heart is to make their life easier. This lesson is something that we can all practice when looking to provide solutions for our customers. As easy as it is to start with the look how great this feature or gadget is conversation is by focusing on why this will benefit you.
Linking Innovation and Process.
Nick Woodman, CEO of GoPro says without innovation, a company will no longer be relevant. Well, that's easier said than done...the questions are, How can we be innovative, and what actionable steps can we take to ensure our long-term relevancy? Samsung is introducing a new washing machine that incorporates a sink in the lid. Okay...but why? Most people have a sink they can use for soaking stains. Samsung's perspective wasn't to try and find what else the washing machine can do. They were thinking about the entire laundry process. By trying to capture more of the process within their control, they eliminate the customer's need for anything else, making them even more indispensable. Learn how your customers work, and be innovative by starting with examining their entire process. Then provide products and services that expand your reach, and value, into their world.
The message was clear. We are only at the beginning of having as much information as we can consume at our fingertips. Finding the applicability will be key, and the companies that solve our problems will be the winner. Not every product shown at CES has a clear application today, but we believe that technology is an iterative process. It's great that I can use my smartphone to pre-heat my oven, but I still need someone to put the food into it. Maybe that will be introduced at CES 2017?
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