Why The Real News At The CES Is All About Software

Categories: Innovation |

CES 2015 highlights
Now that the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is over for another year, here at Belatrix we wanted to share with you our highlights from the event and share our interpretation of what it all means.

CTO´s from all industries need to take notice of the key trends and events of CES. While CES may have in the past been dominated by companies developing and selling technology, now there is a clear diffusion of companies attending from every industry – regardless of whether you are in automotive, healthcare, retail, or any other industry, staying on top of consumer technology trends is simply critical for your survival.

Some of the highlights of the event were:

  • Wearables, driven in particular by health and fitness devices. Interestingly we started to see realistic moves away from wearables being worn to being embedded within textiles (for example in your shirt).
  • The internet of things (IoT) was labelled the “third age of computing”. At one point it almost seemed to be a competition to see how many times the phrase internet of things could be use. However it is clear that IoT does represent a major shift- indeed Samsung´s CEO described it as the “third age of computing”. Unfortunately the importance of security seemed to be lost in the discussion.
  • Automotive technology and driverless cars. As in previous years, the prominence of auto manufacturers at the event was deeply telling. But also the focus on the automotive sector went way beyond the manufacturers- interestingly the CEO of Nvidia, a maker of device chips, focused solely on automotive technology, rather than what the company is more commonly associated with, smartphones.

But for me it seemed that much of the gadgetry had less meaning than ever before. Today´s products rely to an ever greater extent on software, and in many cases the functionality and user experience is driven through the products´ mobile application. This point is highlighted by one product in the “smart home” space, which created some buzz at the event. This was a battery which can be used in smoke detectors, but are now connected to your smartphone. So you can see if your smoke alarm has gone off while you are not at home, or receive a message when the batteries are about to run out (avoiding the annoying beep which too often occurs). What this illustrates, is that the functionality is driven through an application on the ubiquitous smartphone, rather than the gadget or device itself.

Product hardware has become the platform for software. And it is through the software that increased functionality, new services, and improved user experiences emerge. This creates challenges of course, but also opportunity – while hardware may become obsolete in a few years, the software can be continually updated, providing new services to customers. Just look at the Xbox over the past few years and how the hardware of the product has arguably not changed dramatically, but continual updates to the software transformed the services and the customer experience. Product companies, regardless of their heritage, have no choice then but to increasingly focus on software and mobility to create compelling and complete customer experiences.

The challenge however is to create software, particularly for the mobile world, that either creates or facilitates a broader range of services for your customers and drives engaging and addictive customer experiences. Companies that can achieve this in 2015 will be the ones achieving long-term business success.

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