What’s next in the tech­nol­o­gy world?

Are you up to date on CES 2016?

Many would argue that the Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show® (or CES) [link] is the place to go if you’d like a peek at the tech­no leaps that will sure­ly trans­form just about every mar­ket­place in the future. We don’t have the num­bers for the Las Vegas show that just end­ed a week or so ago, but the offi­cial stats from 2015 were prob­a­bly excelled. And that’s say­ing something!

Per the CES site: “The 2015 CES was a record break­ing year. More than 170,000 atten­dees from across the globe gath­ered amongst 2.2 mil­lion net square feet of exhib­it space. That’s why CES is the world’s gath­er­ing place for all who thrive on the busi­ness of con­sumer tech­nol­o­gy. No oth­er event gives your com­pa­ny this depth of expo­sure and reach, because there’s no oth­er event expe­ri­ence like CES.”

There are many online loca­tions you can tap into for reports of what inno­va­tions caused the most buzz in 2016. I’d jump first to TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) and Anna Escher’s (@annaescher) excel­lent “10 Of The Coolest Gad­gets We Saw At CES 2016” [link]. I think you’ll be amazed at some or all of the items on her list. A drone you can fly — with you inside it? Wrap­around glass­es and hel­mets that dis­play crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion faster (and safer) than you can look at a smart­phone — like traf­fic con­di­tions for peo­ple on bicy­cles? A solar-pow­ered cook­ing grill? But keep in mind that these are just a hand­ful of all the devices at this year’s CES.

Escher’s report includes some inter­est­ing short videos to give you more of a feel for the event. I’d also rec­om­mend CNN Mon­ey’s video report [link], espe­cial­ly to see the high-def­i­n­i­tion screen that wraps up like a news­pa­per. The Guardian, too, has a great roll-up of the event [link].

Yet, for the best per­spec­tive I have found, go to John Fal­cone (@falconejp) excel­lent overview of the event on CNET’s site. Giv­en my own pas­sion for the world of auto­mo­biles, I was real­ly tak­en by his assess­ment of the increas­ing fusion of the auto­mo­tive and the tech­no­log­i­cal worlds:

Every year we say CES is becom­ing more of a car show, and that trend was again in evi­dence in 2016. It’s clear that the entire auto­mo­tive expe­ri­ence is under­go­ing a com­plete trans­for­ma­tion from the wheels up. Self-dri­ving and semi-autonomous vehi­cles are now table stakes for auto man­u­fac­tur­ers. And while the dash­board of the near future may look increas­ing­ly like a giant iPad, con­cepts from BMW and Vis­teo go beyond tap­ping and swip­ing to no-touch voice and ges­ture controls.

And while gaso­line prices are plung­ing to new lows, the move to elec­tric vehi­cles appears to be unstop­pable. Case in point is the long-await­ed Chevy Bolt, which will bring a ful­ly elec­tric vehi­cle with a 200-mile-per-charge range to the mass­es at a price of under $30,000 (after US fed­er­al rebate).

Kid managing technology

His head­line real­ly told the sto­ry for me: “CES 2016 did­n’t change the world, but it showed how the world is chang­ing” [link]. Real­ly well-done report.

Beyond auto­mo­biles, I was impressed by how many of the com­men­taries and pro­jec­tions made on this web­site appear to have been on-tar­get, based on CES 2016.

Some time ago, our team of nextsen­sors gen­er­at­ed some insights on the future of tele­vi­sion [link], in which they framed some pre­scient views on where that indus­try was going and how it might be trans­formed. CES is most­ly a hard­ware show; nonethe­less, the devel­op­ment of new iDe­vices rein­force the view that 21C tele­vi­sion will be app-dri­ven, portable, and view­er-man­aged (as opposed to network-managed).

And just as we said that the future of tele­vi­sion would be (and is) dri­ven by a mul­ti­tude of play­ers, so, too, one can see the same trend in the auto­mo­tive, appli­ance, and many oth­er fields.

In terms of tech­nol­o­gy, no one actor has “all that is need­ed” for suc­cess in the future. The con­sumer is front and cen­tre today; the big mus­cu­lar pro­duc­ers of the past that dic­tat­ed what’s next are increas­ing­ly find­ing that their for­mer cus­tomers are decid­ing what will cre­ate val­ue in the future. 

No mat­ter, then, what com­pa­ny you per­son­al­ly would invest in as the best har­bin­ger of the future of tech, my sense is that it’s a mul­ti-play­er game. While there are some ear­ly front run­ners and some obvi­ous default sources of insight and inno­va­tion, check out CES 2016 and you will dis­cov­er that the play­ing field is both deep and wide. There is no guar­an­tee those cur­rent­ly at the table will be the win­ners when the dust settles.

And that should excite, not ter­ri­fy, you! 

Here’s what I said recent­ly in a post for Har­vard [link]:

Man­age­ment is a lens. It’s the best way yet invent­ed to focus the organisation’s cap­i­tal, human, and time resources toward the goals of the busi­ness. Many have observed that com­pa­nies can have admirable goals; but, if poor­ly man­aged, suc­cess proves elusive.

In that arti­cle I pro­file the skill set that is required for lead­ers to look at the abun­dant, auda­cious, and per­haps some­times over­whelm­ing inno­va­tions at this year’s CES and imme­di­ate­ly start look­ing for the pat­terns that could spell s‑u-c-c-e-s‑s for their com­pa­nies. Focus on CES. It just might be the lens your com­pa­ny needs today.

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