CES 2018: We’re reaching a point of tech maturity
April Reagan, senior program director at Fjord Design and Innovation from Accenture Interactive, is back from CES 2018. This is what she learned.
CES 2018 was a showcase in evolution over invention - fewer new technologies, more tweaking to perfection. Brands face numerous challenges when it comes to appealing to consumers in the digital space - whether it’s making a product fit into their lifestyle, learning to trust their machines, or even setting up a relationship through Alexa. But this year’s show demonstrated that we’re reaching a point of maturity, where brands are overcoming these challenges to appeal to consumer interests.
Weaving physical and digital together
One of the best examples of this was seeing how the digital world integrated with more traditional products. While older smartwatches were bulky and lacked functionality, you could mistake those on the show floor as the latest trendy analogues, with the added bonus of tracking health and fitness goals.
And while smart mirrors started out as cumbersome oddities, those made by firms such as HiMirror are now designed with voice assistants and facial recognition to make the morning routine more personal than ever before. Consumers are looking for marketing and retail to offer magical new experiences, combining physical and digital means that brands are closer to fulfilling these desires.
The growth of AI
The AI on show at CES is becoming more human, with advanced contextual speech and spades of personality. Hey, Google was seen as Google’s push for the voice assistant market, backed up with peripheral products such as Lenovo’s smart screen. In the retail space, personal and customer service robots are more articulated and have an increasing number of capabilities.
As AI and automation advance further, brands could find themselves struggling to reach consumers amid over-curation and personalization of services which bypass traditional marketing touchpoints. On the flipside, harnessing such technology to provide bespoke services and support to customers could be an ace up the sleeve of the right brand.
In either scenario, investing in AI expertise will be a crucial component of effective marketing strategies in the near future.
In transparency we trust
Exciting as they are, the future successes of the innovations on show at CES rely on first establishing trust between brands, platforms and consumers. Companies today have what could be the most diverse sets of consumers to address with their products and services - each with varying attitudes towards advertising, products and the media.
Consumers are questioning how companies use the data they share, and whether it provides any value to the customer. The desire to control personal data and maintain trustworthy firewalls is well beyond germination – and brands are stepping up to the challenge to make themselves transparent and accountable.
CES has always been a showcase for the future, but until now it’s felt like the distant future. This year, the products we’ve seen are already woven into the fabric of our day-to-day activities and major experiences. Evolution is the name of the game, so investment today - whether in new skills, new tech or new levels of consumer trust - will be crucial for success in the years ahead.