One of the best indicators for organisations into future trends and disruption is to follow all the usual suspects i.e. product launches, trade shows, conferences, press releases etc but then consider what isn’t being said. Most innovations launch with enough pomp and ceremony to hook the early adopters, however, to become truly mainstream most innovations need to interact with an ecosystem and as most venture capitalists will attest, unicorns usually have pivoted numerous times since the original funding rounds.
One of the best trade shows of the year is CES (Consumer Electronics Show) held every January in Las Vegas and this year did not disappoint. In addition to the normal incremental product launches this year was all about the Smart Home rising and the products announced would satisfy any home need, Samsung even announced that by 2020 all their products from TVs to Washing machines would be “smart”. The home products showcased ranged from Smart Fridges, Washing machines, Thermostats, Cameras, Alarms, Deadlocks,Showers, Wall Plugs, Baby Monitors, Garage door sensors, light switches and even garden hose watering systems.
If you consider my provocation to consider the things that are not mentioned how will all these products work together in the truly smart home as you certainly wouldn’t want a separate app for each. The voice assistants are starting to fill this gap (Amazon with the Echo, Google with the Home Mini etc) they are still closed systems that do not cover everything. Also, the elephant in the room is how exactly will these be connected to the internet? Most people have a reasonable WIFI speed however if you divide your download speed (MBPS) by all the connected products above you wouldn’t have any bandwidth left to watch your favourite program on Netflix let alone surf the internet. Theoretically you can connect 200+ devices to a Wi-Fi router however that doesn’t take in account that you are connected through a single home internet connection and manufacturers seem to recommend between 15-40 connections at most which would not last long in a family home once you take away all the mobiles, tablets and smart TVs. Therefore until Router technology improves or different consumer grade options become available for households to easily create mesh networks it may be a few years before we can rush out to completely kit out our homes which is lucky because there still isn’t an standard which says what blockchain the devices will connect through or even what crypto currency you would need to replenish your fridge.
When these Innovations do eventually land however (could be in next 10 years) the disruption / opportunity will ripple through every sector and will affect Insurance, Retail, Banking, Utility provision, to name but a few. The future will be connected so get ready.
As technology continues to evolve and the realisation that those pesky unicorns are not so easy to find, most organisations are now starting to embark on a digital journey to embrace what the tech companies have been doing for years. You can see this manifested in numerous industries where more announcements are being made at technology events like CES than the traditional venues. One recent example is the automotive industry where in 2017 more Innovation was announced at CES (The Consumer Electronics Show) than their traditional venue of the Motor Show. These disruptive vanilla applications will certainly ripple across the whole ecosystem so it is important to not just “look down” at the specific Innovation but also look laterally for the “aftershock”. If we look at a few examples it will become apparent how any Innovation can disrupt all industries.
Transport – This may be a way away however just think if there were autonomous cars driving around 24×7; why would you ever buy a car (it is also believed that children being born now may never learn to drive). If you then think laterally at the aftershock there would be a knock-on into how you insure yourself, why would you need a garage in your house or even a drive, cities wouldn’t need car parks. What effect would this also have on the logistics businesses if these vehicles could also deliver shopping or purchases?
Self Help – The wearable market is expected to be worth $34.6 Billion by 2020, so imagine what could happen if everyone became proactive to health rather than relying on the traditional reactive Doctors surgery? Health insurance would change, hospitals and doctors would certainly change, a new product line of self testing and DNA would emerge plus the whole pharma industry would shift into preventative medicine. Also 200 million consumer virtual reality head-mounted displays are predicted to be sold worldwide by 2020 so this will cause disruptions right cross industries from Health, to Training, Gaming etc.
UI – What will be the interface of the future? I have already mentioned above about VR however what about AR (Augmented Reality), Voice and Touch. The Qwerty keyboard has been around since the 1870s so maybe a change is due. What would this do to the world if interaction with a computer was no longer by a keyboard?
As you can see from the few examples above its not just the individual Innovations which will cause disruptions but also the aftershock, so look up, look around and suddenly the opportunities will be plenty.
For Innovations to be successful in addition to them being desirable they also need to be affordable and interact with existing ecosystems. Just look at the original iPad; tablets and touch screens were not new but when you added the App Store and the interoperability with the iPhone it became a resounding success. Since the introduction of the Smartphone and constant refresh cycle battles between manufacturers the number of Innovations being seen is immense with major changes emerging every other year. The difference with the Smartphone market to others is its massive global penetration and hence any new Innovations suddenly get scale and can drive down the price point for any new technology which suddenly makes it reusable in other form factors. Just look at the recent announcements at CES and in the press this year. We have seen flexible displays, thermal cameras, earthquake tracking and the removal of headphone jacks to name but a few. In isolation these seem interesting however to be successful in Innovation you need to look past the obvious and look at the second generation use of any new invention. Most Mobile Innovations end up commercially viable due to their scale and in the enterprise, so just looking at the above you can see numerous uses outside of the mobile arena.
When you are looking at innovation in addition to deciding if you “play to win” or have a strategy of being a “fast follower” you also need to look past the obvious and suddenly a multitude of possibilities will arise and rather than just following the crowd suddenly you could become a disrupter.
Disruptive technology inevitably changes the future when it reaches critical mass and especially so if it interacts with larger supply chains. In 2016 there are a number of expected disruptive changes which eventually could enter mainstream and then migrate to the enterprise.
Electric Vehicles – It is expected that a new entrant will enter the electric vehicle market in 2016 (Faraday Futures) who will go head to head with Tesla (there are rumours that this could also be associated with Apple). As more entrants enter this market place to advance electric vehicle and battery technology not only will it disrupt the car market but the whole supply chain will be effected from fuel (Charging) to parts to Insurance.
Drones – To date drones have been great fun however their short battery life (usually around 20 minutes) has constrained their uses albeit Amazon has been considering them for deliveries. Drones are now being tested that use hydrogen fuel cells which can increase flight time to more than an hour which could open up a whole new scenario of user cases. Once the challenge of restricted air space and flight times are addressed not only could they be used for deliveries but you could see application in emergency services and anything that needs visual inspection from building quotes to insurance claims etc.
Wearables – The wearable tech industry is projected to grow 64 per cent over the next three years, reaching $25 billion in 2019 when more than 245 million devices are expected to ship. As this industry matures and proactive health monitoring becomes the norm which inevitably will lead to increased lifespan, ripples could be sent through the health, insurance and pension industries.
Augmented Reality – Even though the games industry is very excited about virtual reality one technology which could have an even greater reach is augmented reality (this is the ability for the user to engage with the “real world” rather than virtual); significant developments have made in this space which already allows you to explore the inside of foreign landmarks, treat phobias, better train medical professionals and virtually attend events and much more. This technology could certainly disrupt any service that would benefit from additional information overlays.
This list is only an example of some of the major change which is on its way. In the past most enterprises have focussed on mobile and internet based disruptions however there are a number of disruptions on their way which will effect the way businesses operate and serve their customers.
This January Las Vegas once again hosted the world’s largest Innovation trade show CES. The Consumer Electronics Show exhibits products and services from 15 product categories and this year had over 3,200 exhibitors, in excess of 150,000 visitors and over 35,000 from outside the United States.
Even though the show is largely frequented by retail buyers it offers the enterprise insight into what Innovations will enter the consumer space in the future and if a small amount of imagination is overlaid you are able to identify the general trends which could be exploited in the future. As you would expect there was a plethora of new PCs, Mobile, TVs etc, so below I have detailed a couple of standout products that could one day be seen in the workplace.
3D Printing Advances
3D Systems introduced an iPad-version of its popular Sense 3D scanner called the iSense. The device clips to the iPad and allows users to scan an object in three-dimensions in real-time, without needing to put the object inside a special scanning box. After scanning an object, users can then transfer the data for editing or duplication via compatible 3D printers. The reason this innovation is interesting is that it could bring 3D printing to the masses. To date you have been able to buy 3D printers however there has not been an easy way to actually create a 3D model to be printed. Advances like this could bring 3D printing to the home sooner than you think.
Sony Ultra Short Throw 4K Projector
Sony introduced a projector that throws a 147in Ultra High Definition picture onto your wall from just a few centimetres away; albeit at the moment it does cost US$30,000-40,000. You can already see the video conference room of the future changing if you no longer need reams of technology and can just mount a projector close to the wall.
Biometric Digital Wallet
PulseWallet demonstrated its cardless POS kit integrated with Fujitsu’s PalmSecure biometric technology which would allow consumers to leave their credit and debit cards at home and pay for goods and services with a wave of their palms at the check-out. The PalmSecure-enabled terminals link the consumer’s palm to a personal digital wallet that electronically tracks and stores receipts and coupons at the point-of-payment. In the enterprise however you could use this technology to replace anything that requires authentication or pass access, could you see yourself opening your PC with a swipe of your hand rather than a logon credentials?
This year Oculus VR showcased the version 2 of its Kickstarter-funded virtual reality gaming headset which has become consumer-ready. Even though this is still more prototype than mainstream this technology could morph also into the enterprise teleconference arena or even used to create fully emersive product experiences which consumers could use in retail outlets.
Every January Las Vegas hosts the International Consumer Electronics Show; this year it featured 20,000 product launches, over 3250 exhibitors and more than 150,000 attendees. Even though there is little direct correlation with the financial services marketplace and hence no point attending in person, the show coverage is an excellent way to look at the future trends which will emerge over the next few years and maybe affect the products we sell.
Sadly over the years the major players in the technology space have opted out of CES and chosen to announce product releases via their own press conferences, so you will not find the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google or Microsoft there.
This year’s CES did not disappoint however and a few interesting trends emerged. One of the most interesting changes was in the Digital Health Space where the number of exhibitors increased by 30% over 2012. This year we saw a number of Innovations in personal health ranging from Forks which monitor how fast you eat and vibrate to tell you to slow down (Hapifork), Wristbands, Headbands and devices which monitor your steps, heartbeat and now temperature and in real time map them into an app for your review. Follow this link for a good review of some of the best Health products shown at CES
In addition to healthcare there were a numerous new products released ranging from OLED and 4K televisions to Laptops, Tablets and Smartphone’s. One new phone concept has a colour screen on one side and an e-ink on the other (Yotaphone). Watches (Pebble) were also announced which sync with your Smartphone and show SMS, Emails, Weather plus Social Media Updates. There were also advances in in-car systems (Chevy MYLINK) which bring more of the tablet experience to the car.
At CES new manufacturing parts and processes were also shown and this year the next generation of Gorilla Glass (3) was demonstrated (this is a special type of glass used in Smartphone screens to prevent them from breaking). HzO showcased a manufacturing process which allows you to coat (Waterblock) an electronic device which then renders the internal workings waterproof. This product is hoping to enter the manufacturing lifecycle rather than as a post purchase add-on. There is a fully coated and waterproof Smartphone due to be released soon.
You may be asking yourself how any of the above will alter the way we sell products however technology is a great leveller and by leveraging the consumer’s choices it could certainly reduce premiums and change behaviours. The following are hypothetical; however could certainly happen:
- Would you offer lower premiums if your customers drove a car with built in monitoring that not only could record the telematics but also engage with you as a driver in real time to affect their driving patterns?
- Would you offer lower Mobile phone insurance if the phone insured was waterproof and had Gorilla Glass 3 and hence accidental damage claims were significantly reduced?
- Would you offer lower health insurance if the customer guaranteed via a device to take a minimum level of monitored exercise? What if warnings based on the body measurements were being monitored was sent warnings to your watch to alter your behaviour?
Technology is certainly starting to become an extension of you that will allow us all to live a more productive, healthier and happier life