What can enterprise IT leaders learn from this year's CES trends?
Every January, many of the major tech vendors choose to make their gadget announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and to some degree it sets the agenda for what the industry expects to hype as the big trends over the coming year, cementing emerging technology as mainstream. So naturally, there are crossovers and parallels with the enterprise.
1. CES 2017 enterprise trends: the Internet of Things
Any enterprise dealing in industrial systems will be aware that the internet of things is a relatively new term to describe a much older concept. But the emergence of turning analogue objects smart with connectivity is picking up and a slew of announcements have been made at CES already. Toymaker Mattel even announced a connected 'kids' room' powered by IoT.
Businesses will no doubt want to make further use of their customer data – as is already the case with smart meters and other utilities – but according to a recent 451 Research report, there are a few barriers to meeting these challenges. Number one is security, which requires organisations to build on their data science capabilities – to spot anomalies compared to more traditional threats. And storing all of this extra data brings extra challenges.
2. CES 2017 enterprise trends: Virtual Reality
A few somewhat outlandish VR products were announced at CES, including an exoskeleton that simulates the sensation of flying. VR has tried to break into the mainstream a few times over the last decades, but now, with the likes of Oculus Rift, it really is viable for the home – and there are business uses too.
Vendors are now working with customers in retail and other industries to create VR systems that are beneficial to consumers – with some examples including virtual fashion runways and interior tours from architecture firms. At the moment it’s relatively simple to experiment with the platform, and it does not look like a concept that will be going away soon.
3. CES 2017 enterprise trends: Machine Learning
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that the company was ploughing money into a new system called Xavier that was designed specifically to work as the intelligence behind self-driving cars. Using an ARM64 processor, Huang claimed that the system is uniquely able to detect obstacles with the new Volta GPU.
Businesses would be wise to take a cue from household names like Uber, Expedia, and RBS – which have all invested in their machine learning capabilities and released AI-equipped products. Having the right software engineers who ‘get’ machine learning might prove difficult in a relatively nascent industry, but the advantages of algorithmically understanding the needs of customers, along with automated and intelligent customer service capabilities, will only become more crucial in future. And of course, the big public cloud providers are starting to offer AI and machine learning services on their platforms.
4. CES 2017 enterprise trends: 5G
The next wave of wireless networking has been the talk of the industry over the past few years, but Intel announced a new 5G modem at this year’s CES, hot on the trails of a Qualcomm, Ericsson and AT&T initiative to advance adoption of the technology. At least in the UK, the government recently committed to making 5G spectrum available over the coming years. Aside from the battle for access to that spectrum that’s bound to happen, businesses will need to start factoring in how 5G will change customer behaviour – and network and service providers will need to think about how they cope with what’s bound to be an increase in data usage.
5. CES 2017 enterprise trends: consumer security
Perhaps unusually for a trade show that has historically focused on the flashiest technology around, this year plenty of vendors are talking up security products. This includes the Norton Core, presented as a high-end router that is packed with secure features and baked-in defences against network intrusions.
NXP, meanwhile, showcased a series of security functionalities specifically designed for wearable tech.
What’s interesting about this is it shows willingness from vendors to bet on making security desirable products, parallel to raised consumer awareness about infosec – thanks in part to the many headlines about data breaches, leaked emails, surveillance, and so on.
This means businesses will have to be even more vigilant about thoroughly testing their organisations against threats – because the associated brand damage after a successful attack is worse than ever before.
6. CES 2017 enterprise trends: self-driving cars
Analyst firm CCS Insights cautions that fully autonomous cars with no human driver will “remain a research project until at least 2025,” but the connected or part-automated vehicle presents other opportunities for businesses. Along with Nvidia’s Xavier project mentioned above, Intel launched its Intel Go platform, a 5G-ready platform for connected vehicles.
The self-driving car will necessarily influence the ways in which vehicle companies think about their IT strategies, transforming them into service providers and operators as well as manufacturers. It will also spur on the security industry, and infosec professionals will need to be au fait with the nuts and bolts of vehicles as well as the software.
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