The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas wrapped up this week, ending three days of the biggest names in tech showing off their latest and greatest gadgets and other futuristic product lines. The event, which is traditionally a way for tech companies to show off their best new products for the coming year, is also a good indication of the broader technology trends that affect both consumers and enterprises that will take hold in the months ahead.
In the midst of innumerable fitness trackers, toy robots and high tech automobiles, there are some important trends to pick out and follow for the rest of 2014.
The consumerization of technology is spilling into the enterprise space. If you’re expecting a lot of updated desktop and laptop PCs from CES 2014, you’re definitely underestimating today’s tech innovations. This was the year of the laptop/tablet hybrid device, a trend that shows that enterprise level technology is being embraced by consumers as the lines between business and personal tech continue to blur. This is likely attributed to the ongoing BYOD movement, where employees bring their personal devices to work and expect to use them to their full capacity in the office and at home. When it comes to “traditional” computing methods, tech companies are very aware of what consumers want – enterprise-grade functionality for work that transitions seamlessly into personal use at home.
Who can ignore the mobile revolution these days? Certainly no one at the CES show, that’s for sure. The event was full of updates to existing mobile technology, most notably in the fitness monitor and wearable computing spaces. While 2013 introduced admittedly underwhelming gadgets in this field – the response to devices like the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Google Glass from the mass consumer market has been lukewarm at best – manufacturers are upping their game in 2014. What this means for the broader tech world is that as consumers warm up to wearing devices that monitor nearly all aspects of their personal lives, the data these gadgets generate will create a wealth of information to fuel the analytics, algorithm and cloud computing markets.
Technology is getting smarter, and so are consumers. You’ve probably heard a lot about “connected devices” and the “Internet of Things” – as more of our tech devices communicate information to us and between themselves and to the greater world of the Internet. Consumers are growing accustomed to having all of this information at their fingertips. And this isn’t just limited to smart watches and heart rate monitors – a Jetsons-inspired world where our refrigerator will tell us when we’re out of milk and self-driving cars is already here. The trick for all this “smart technology” to really take off in the consumer (and business) space, is that manufacturers and technology providers will have to work together to ensure these devices communicate effectively with each other. If they don’t, impressive technology like home automation and smart cars will run the risk of becoming one-trick ponies that customers cast aside as gimmicky.
Of course, CES is so much more than the handful of distilled trends above. The event kicks off yet another year of innovation in the rapidly evolving tech world, both in the ultra-competitive consumer realm as well as the enterprise space. If wearables, 3D printing and connected devices are driving tech trends in 2014, who’s to say what the gamechangers will be in 2015?