What Does CES 2018 Mean for Business?

4 minute read

CES 2018 – the Consumer Technology Association’s annual cavalcade of high-tech wonders – was held last week in Las Vegas. Honestly, we love the CES hype as much as anyone, but hype doesn’t always equal value. Mind Over Machines is about adding value to businesses, not about the newest consumer gadgets.

That said, your employees are a critical part of your business, and all employees double as consumers. How we live outside of work influences our expectations for work. Since the birth of the BYOD movement, we’ve tracked the consumerization of enterprise. While those hot prototypes on the show floor aren’t coming to an office near you anytime soon, CES 2018 is a leading indicator of the forces that shape the consumer experience, and those forces will eventually impact employee expectations.

Alexa Is Everywhere 

Our Director of Emerging Technologies, Tim Kulp, tracked a lot of cool stuff coming out of CES this year, but for him, the headline is the ubiquity of Alexa. “From coffee makers to commodes, the breadth of connected devices at CES was remarkable, but it’s not just that we’re connecting more things; it’s that we’re centralizing where and how we interact with those things via personal assistants and conversational user interfaces,” Tim explains. “Alexa isn’t just a hockey puck on the counter anymore. She’s embedded herself in our homes. We talk to her like we talk to any other member of the family. And sure, that comes with well-documented privacy issues, but we know it’s human nature to give up privacy for convenience.”

How does the rise of conversational interfaces impact our workplaces? It’s driving the demand for more accessible data. When we’re at home, we’re used to commanding Alexa, “Play the new hit single from X.” When we’re at work, who responds when we demand, “Pull up the x P&L report”?

Microsoft Teams’ bots are working to answer that question. And in an unusual collaboration, Amazon and Microsoft are partnering to provide consumer-employees with a seamless experience. “Alexa and Cortana can talk to each other!” marvels Tim. “Think about what’s going on there behind the scenes. Amazon knows it doesn’t do enterprise as well as Microsoft, so we have one ecosystem opening up to another ecosystem, partnering so both can reach new audiences with a better product.”

More Tech with Work-Changing Potential

Tim flagged a couple other CES 2018 products and trends for us that may end up changing the way people work:

Razer’s Project Linda takes BYOD to the next level, merging your smartphone with a laptop. Users just drop their smartphone into the spot where the trackpad typically sits to have all the convenience of working on a laptop with all the customization/familiarity of using your own device. And extra bonus: your smartphone doubles as a second screen! It’s technology that buoys the smartphone’s rise to prominence in enterprise as a computing device. “More and more, in home and at the office, our phones are where work is happening,” Tim says.

In the world of virtual reality, HTC unveiled its Vive Pro VR headset with just enough upgrades from the original Vive to really pack a punch. “Its significantly higher resolution is a big deal, but the much bigger deal is that it’s untethered,” says Tim. “When you don’t have a giant cable hanging off the back of your head, you can go much deeper into the VR experience. This could be a game changer for marketing professionals of all stripes. Load your display into VR, hand the headset to your customer, and watch them get lost in your product.”

Beware the Industry Disruptor

Toyota’s demo of its e-Palette concept vehicle was a reminder that autonomous vehicles are coming, and they’re coming quick. “There’s no way to overstate the effect this is going to have on business. We’re talking about dramatically changing supply chain logistics, impacting the economy from local communities to global business,” Tim predicts. “And this is all happening because of advances in artificial intelligence, advances that will be driven by what? Personal assistants!”

That’s right; it all comes back to Alexa and her compatriots. A quick history lesson is illuminating here. Microsoft, Google and Facebook are the AI heavy hitters right now. Where did they get the information to build their AI programs? Tim recounts, “Microsoft got theirs from learning how we use Windows, Office and Bing. Google built its AI off their search engine and cloud services, while Facebook learned from the info freely offered up by its two billion users. Personal assistants are the new frontier. They will fuel the future of computing.”

Our MINDs Monitor the Consumer Space

So while Mind Over Machines is an enterprise-focused consultancy, you can count on us to keep an eye on the consumer front, ensuring the business solutions we design and deliver meet consumer-employees’ expectations. We know the gadgets that pulled headlines at last week’s CES are a long way off from making it to enterprise; the privacy concerns alone are staggering. But it’s a good long-range forecast.

In the wake of CES 2018, what we can say for sure is personal assistants are escalating from useful to ubiquitous, just like mobile did not so long ago. We’d love the opportunity to talk with you about how your business can best harness new technology. Personal assistants and bots are coming quickly to a device near you. Could a bot increase efficiency within your enterprise? Let Mind Over Machines help you adapt and incorporate this new wave in ways that transcend mere hype to achieve actual added value. Head on over to our Contact page and tell us a bit about yourself and your company's needs. Let's get the conversation going!