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I've Seen the Future, & It's Higher-Tech

By Sarah Bostwick Stromoski, Manager, CEO Leadership

Post 1 of 2 related to CES 2017. Post 2

Couldn’t attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on 5-7 January in Las Vegas yourself? Read on. In attending for the first time on behalf of CECP, I glimpsed the future of our homes, workplaces, and lives. Sometimes it made my eyes open wide, other times it made me want to shut them tight. CES is the world’s largest consumer technology show; its exhibits, conference sessions, and display booths span multiple venues throughout the city.

Hot stuff that spans all industries

  • Ultra HD (aka 4K), OLED, 1/4″ thick screen
  • Smart-home accessories
  • Drones
  • Virtual reality medium
  • 5G internet speed

Notable trends, themes, industry insights

  • While CES started as a trade show limited to specific industries, it was evident that every industry is now an electronics and technology industry. Hence, the largest exhibits were by auto companies with others by healthcare, sports, and fitness. Technology is strictly a tool that can be used in all industries, for good or for evil, for the benefit of many or few. It tends to disrupt because it doesn’t have to protect massive capital assets it has already invested in, the way incumbent companies do.
  • Lots of industries are shifting from providing a product or service to providing an experience which fulfills a need or solves a problem; living sustainably is increasingly the collective need/problem, compelling more big companies to maximize the societal value toward which CECP works. E.g., the customer doesn’t want a drill, she wants a 3-cm hole. She doesn’t want a car, she wants to get from A to B. She doesn’t want a Peleton stationary bike, she wants to exercise flexibly, live, and connected. Ford constantly asks itself, “how to make people’s lives better by helping them move,” not about cars.
  • Here comes internet 3.0, which changes the way we use internet. It’s moved from computers to mobile devices to wearables/other objects.
    • Internet of things (IoT) – in which everyday objects such as your refrigerator have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data – has officially arrived. Signs indicate soon our homes will become smart just as our phones did.
    • The only thing standing in the way now is the interface of things. I.e., what good is IoT if we can’t interface with it? Recall how often machines fail to understand your voice no matter how painstakingly you repeat in slo-mo. Whether powered by speech, touch or text, the power of IoT is limited unless we can interact with it as naturally as with one another and in “can’t-fail” situations. In the smart home, every surface is a screen – doors, walls, counters, mirrors, tabletops, etc.
    • Internet of me: Internet will connect and analyze our movements, our health, our brains and our everyday objects.
  • The human transportation industry now thinks of itself as the mobility industry. Mobility has emerged as one of the foremost concerns (sometimes challenges) shared by all people.
    • Shift to consumption of mobility on a per capita basis rather than purchasing a capital asset (e.g., car).
    • The future car is 3 things: electric, autonomous, connected (to internet)
    • Autonomous transportation. Value is shifting (not depleting) from the car as a physical asset to how you spend your time – a valuable commodity – and personal to shared ownership. Your time is the commodity companies covet, hence Google a “tech” company builds driverless cars. We’re about to have millions of mobile living rooms (cars) with programming made for the length of our commutes.
      • Tomorrow’s industry leaders will figure out how to commercialize ways that change how people move, as Uber has done.
  • Brand: Every company faces the challenge that its content is beyond its control. The content it creates is delivered in many forms – vehicles, phones, social media. When people everywhere comment on it, companies no longer control the messaging.
  • Resource efficiency: More and more, functional integration of electronic products forces companies who used to specialize in a certain type of product to broaden business models to achieve functional integration. I.e., music, camera, phone in one device rather than an MP3 player, a camera, and a phone. Plus, functional integration reduces electronic waste and helps overcome materials scarcity.
  • I was surprised that a panel called “Sustainability Issues for a New Administration/Congress” focused for 60 mins on environment and 0 min on the social side. A signal of what matters in the US public sector?

CECP Companies Showcased Women who Make a Difference in Society

  • Aol’s “brand experience” booth featured social content
    (1) Makers: Women Who Make America as the largest collection of leading women’s stories past, present, and future and (2) a range of Huffington Post seminal content in 2016 such as Jennifer Aniston’s critique of the objectification of women; investigative reporting leading to the reform of the culture of male entitlement and sexual hostility at US National Park Service; and Pinksourcing.
  • IBM’s Hidden Figures exhibit featured 3 black women behind the US space race whose contributions went unacknowledged (now a movie).