CES has long been a “must see” destination for B2C marketers in search of consumer trends but a simple substitution of the word “converging” for “consumer” and it’s easy to understand why forward-thinking B2B marketers will also be descending on Vegas this January. Should you need a little push, here are seven trends identified with the help of tech-guru Shelly Palmer that will have significant implications for just about any business.
Voice Activated On-Demand Services
Amazon’s Alexa platform has simply spoiled consumers, raising expectations that on-demand services will be available everywhere. No doubt this year’s show will feature even more product integrations with Alexa (last year “she” showed up in cars, washing machines and robots). From a B2B perspective, look for Alexa and friends to infiltrate the workplace, changing how products are ordered, doors are locked, phones are answered and office machines are managed (imagine telling Alexa to optimize your power usage or reboot the phone system).
Real-Time Language Translation for Customer Service
At the moment, Alexa only speaks English. Google Translate, on the other hand, speaks more than 100 languages, which should spawn a world of business opportunities. Earlier this year Google launched Pixel Buds, their Bluetooth earphones that can translate 40 languages in real time, which will be treats for tourists, lifesavers for first responders and godsends for teachers of immigrants. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine these devices radically reshaping how businesses manage a global workforce and international customer service. We can even dream of Pixel Buds winning a Nobel Prize by breaking down the cultural divides typically created by language.
Augmented Reality in the Workplace
While Pokémon Go made augmented reality a household word last year, Palmer believes this technology’s flexibility gives it plenty of potential to shape both industries and day-to-day life. For example, Palmer envisions “a doctor looking into an incubator and seeing a heads-up display of all of the vital signs of the patient.” Similarly, expect to see augmented reality integrated into the repair process for all types of machines, from car engines to wind turbines, chronometers to dishwashers. And further off, product designers will welcome this technology into their development process, perhaps realizing the holographic computations of Tony Stark.
Smart Drones for Remote Diagnostics
Drones were everywhere at CES 2017, but most were manually controlled. Now, “a bunch of companies create machines that not only fly themselves but also have hi-definition or infrared cameras that enable material processing in the air,” Palmer notes. Travelers Insurance, for example, is using drones to assess exterior damage, “understand what happened to your roof and process your claim without having someone go out to your house,” he adds. These smart drones will impact a wide swath of life, including agriculture, road repair, security, delivery and much more.
With Elon Musk’s recent announcement of semi-autonomous Tesla trucks, it is easy to anticipate a world of self-driving vehicles large and small. CES 2018 will be chock-a-block with prototypes that could transform not just how people get from place to place but also how goods are moved. Personally, I’m holding out for the Jetsons-like VTOLs — vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. These products are in development around the world (see five of them in this video), and in combination with smart cameras, they’ll have business applications for a wide range of industries.
IOHT – Internet of Health Things
It’s hard to imagine an industry that will be more affected by emerging electronics trends than healthcare. Many of the advancements in mobile phones have direct applications for physicians, from instant diagnoses and patient record retrieval, to vital sign monitoring and drug dosage control. Palmer envisions remote interactions between doctor, patient and a family member to increase compliance with prescribed drugs, diet and exercise regimens. Smart monitoring devices could also lead to advancements in prevention, early diagnosis and treatment as health data is aggregated (and, of course, anonymized for privacy).
Converge to Conceive New Products
The ultimate reason for B2B marketers to attend CES is to imagine your own new products or services that could spring from the technology on display or the people you run across. “CES is about putting together industries that ordinarily wouldn’t get together, and today that’s really happening everywhere,” explains Palmer. He cites the convergence of an oncologist with a sensor manufacturer who then dream up a toilet with artificial intelligence that can monitor health through waste analysis. “If you approach CES the right way, it can unlock all kinds of mysteries,” Palmer concludes.
Final Note: If you’re planning to be at CES on the 9th or 10th, do let me know. In the meantime, here’s a link to my podcast interview with Shelly Palmer during which he schools me on all things CES and why Alexa isn’t as “dumb” as I proposed! Finally, here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!