Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is, as it claims, ‘the global stage of innovation.’ Every year, companies from across the world, from varied verticals, come together to showcase and witness what could be the next big thing in consumer technology. However, with time, CES has become a looking glass to the future technologies which is not just limited to consumer tech but the bigger technology ecosystem.
We attended CES 2020, and there were several technology trends that we think will dominate the future and in turn, will create opportunities for several technology players in the ecosystem.
Traffic, Pollution, Security, Roads, Public Transport, Aging Infrastructure. City officials face a myriad of challenges daily. However, with the increasing proliferation of technology, municipalities and officials therein are now exploring opportunities to partner with technology companies and redesign cities so that they are smarter and more sustainable. What stood out at CES 2020 was that it’s not just refurbishing and repurposing the crumbling infrastructure with band-aid tech solutions but building smart cities from ground zero. Toyota’s smart city project called the ‘Woven City’ outlined a futuristic plan that includes autonomous cars, hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels, hydroponics, etc. The city will be populated with Toyota workers and their families.
With Smart Cities projects coming to life, Service Providers need to watch out for the following trends:
Enterprises and Service Providers that can build or enable smart city solutions should capitalize on these emerging opportunities.
With the launch of the new Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards or ATSC 3.0 in 2019, companies are now focusing on building products and solutions that support these new standards. ATSC 3.0 is fundamentally different from the former ATSC systems and will substantially improve the performance and efficiency of broadcasting. However, this upgrade has caused it to become incompatible with various existing products and solutions. CES 2020 saw products and solutions that claim to support ATSC 3.0. As organizations strive to accommodate this new standard, Service Providers must jump in to make the most of this new opportunity by ensuring compliance in existing products as well as build newer products to cater to the demand.
In addition, both Enterprises and Service Providers need to build solutions around the whole content suite, which will include content creation, streaming, distribution, etc. CES 2020 saw several companies pivoting towards content creation and focusing on providing enhanced content experiences. For instance, Quibi showed glimpses of its app that will stream curated content with a signature technology called Turnstyle, which will allow the user to switch between landscape and portrait modes seamlessly. NBCUniversal also unveiled its One Platform, a new offering that aims to streamline linear and digital advertising. It will take ‘the digital and targeting capabilities of digital advertising and apply it to the massive scale of premium content.’ Clearly, content is king, and companies must try to grab a seat at this king’s court.
This year at CES, Sony took the world by surprise by launching an autonomous car and not just sensors, cameras, and infotainment systems. This move set the tone for the future where technology companies will have a say in how the automotive industry will shape up in the future. However, if we take a step back, it’s clear that Sony’s move was logical, given that several of its products already have a huge share in the automotive sector. Qualcomm also launched its autonomous driving computer at CES 2020. With tech giants like Google and Amazon already in the fray, it will be interesting to see the new dynamics that will emerge in the future.
What is evident is how technology companies are poised to capture the lion’s share in the automotive sector, further blurring the lines between verticals. A key implication of this trend for Service Providers is that these technology companies will look for partners who can enable them to take their autonomous journeys forward, thus opening up new opportunities for strategic partnerships.
From enhanced home security systems, smart switches and lights, to smart water purifiers – CES 2020 showcased innovative products that can solve real-world problems for consumers. However, smart home solutions are pivoting. With increasing connectivity, smart home solution providers are moving towards platforms rather than just focusing on smart home products. The key aim is to enable products to connect to each other and be compatible – which will further enhance the customer experience. Service Providers need to build solutions that can enable this compatibility and platformization.
One example here is that of Comcast. This telecom company is taking the platform approach to provide new smart home services. Through the platform, it is also working on curating smart home products and services while ensuring good customer experience by making it easy to use. Thus, another additional trend that services companies need to watch out for is that of increasing focus on delivering seamless customer experience. All this, of course, needs to be done keeping in mind the security and privacy-related concerns that arise due to increased connectivity and integration with third parties.
Digital Health always features heavily at CES. However, this year we saw no ground-breaking products and solutions that will cause the next wave of disruption. But there was one key trend that stood out. Companies are now focusing on real-world use cases and problems rather than vanity solutions and products. Another trend was that several products are market-ready and not just concepts. So, 2020 will be the year of manifestation of several unique digital health products that were once mere ideas. In essence, digital health will continue to blur the boundaries of technologies like AI, IOT, 5G, sensors, etc., with the biggest challenge being the intensifying market competition.
Last year, 5G was all sound and no fury. There were promises of it taking off the ground with full force by 2020. However, as experts stated during the show that it is the “Chicken or the Egg” problem, where the 5G infrastructure providers and 5G product builders are playing tag and the industry is still trying to figure out how best to leverage this technology.
This year at CES, the 5G hype continued to grow, and in fact, it went beyond smartphones to laptops, cars, and infrastructure. There were several products that claimed to accommodate 5G’s speed. Companies were cognizant of the fact that 5G will open up paths for the evolution of technologies like AR/VR. However, it will come with a set of hurdles like the cost to build the infrastructure, deployment and coverage, security and privacy, etc., that consumers and companies alike, will have to navigate as they continue to move forward. One thing is clear that 5G will see a greater roll-out this year and will become more mainstream.
The convergence of technologies – An automobile company is building a smart city. An electronics giant is building autonomous cars. Product companies are increasingly moving to platforms.
If there is one thing that is certain it is that boundaries are blurring – between verticals, horizontals, solutions, services, products. We are heading towards a time where every company wants to have their fingers in multiple pies. Nobody wants to miss out on any technology trend that has the potential to shape the future. Hence, partnerships will be key. Service Providers who have the right solution at the right time will stand to gain from this increasing need for partnerships. Hence, it is all the more important for Service Providers to keep an eye on the impending opportunities and build the right capability to cater to the needs of the enterprises.