In the aftermath of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show(CES), many in the tech industry are already excited at the thought of heading back to Las Vegas for another round of the world’s most popular tech trade show. Historically, CES has served as a consumer candy store of new gadgets for personal electronics, home automation and other shiny tech toys.
But this year was different. And businesses should start to pay attention.
It’s No Longer About Shiny Objects
Internet darlings Google and Facebook have historically shied away from CES. This year, you couldn’t help but notice the huge presence Google had with its monorail circling the Las Vegas Convention Center and the towering monument to its GoogleAssistant. Even the Chinese search giant Baidu showed up this year. For the first time in a while, CES felt like an A-list event.
With over 180,000 attendees and more than 4,000 exhibitors (including 600 startups) covering more than 2.6 million square feet (based on 2017 data), CES is certainly a global stage for innovation.
However, CES is changing from a show where individual companies compete on their latest gadgets to one where an ecosystem of technology and partnerships are forming. For instance, Amazon did not have its own booth but instead was visible through its numerous Alexa partners.
It’s important for businesses to go deeper than mere gadgetry to understand the paradigm shifts on the horizon. We’ve seen time and time again that consumer trends ultimately transform how businesses operate and employees collaborate.
AI Is The New Battleground
So what’s at stake? A new battleground around artificial intelligence (AI) is forming. Companies that leverage and embrace AI will undoubtedly be the winners in the future. On the surface, it feels like an intense heavyweight fight between digital assistants Alexa and Siri. Even Samsung is trying to get into the market with Bixby. Amazon still has about 67% of the digital assistant market, while Google has roughly 25% and is growing, according to Strategy Analytics. And Amazon’s Echo devices gained a lot of users over the holidays. It looks like Google is done playing around.
But it’s much more than digital assistants. It’s much more about AI as the new computing platform. We are now in an era of intelligent and autonomous products. It’s a race to embed AI into everything. Every company is scrambling to figure out who to partner with, what platforms to use and what data to consume.
And the winners in this modern gold rush will be the companies that manufacture the picks and shovels. Nvidia is one such company that has successfully pivoted from being a manufacturer of high-end gaming processors to creating a deep learning AI platform. CEO Jensen Huang realizes that someday all cars may be autonomous. He announced new partnerships on opening night with Uber and Volkswagen to bring autonomous cars into the mainstream.
For Nvidia, this brings their total number of autonomous car partnerships to over 320
Robots Become The Future Of Customer Service
Robots reigned supreme at this year’s CES.
Sophia has been the celebrity robot of late with her eye-catching presence containing over 62 facial expressions that are very expressive but not yet quite human. Sophia’s creator, David Hanson, is a former Disney Imagineer, which helped him envision robots as four-dimensional interactive sculptures. Sophia is the result of a collaboration between Hanson Robotics, AI developers from Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and SingularityNET, which powers her brain.
Ubtech, a China-based robotics company, showed off Walker, an 82-pound bipedal robot that is supposed to be your complete home butler. It can walk a security patrol in your home, will respond to your voice commands and can manage your calendar.
As people become more accustomed to talking and interacting with robots, we can expect to see companies experiment with robots as a larger part of their customer service strategy. Until now, chatbots used in customer service have been fairly basic. The addition of AI and advancements in robot technology mean chatbots can now become a key component of a business’ CRM and customer service strategy.
Customer service robots are obvious choices for repetitive tasks found in banks, shopping malls, airports and entertainment facilities. Robots can further humanize experiences that have become ordinary and impersonal through IVR and kiosk automation.
In 2016, Lowe’s introduced LoweBot, an autonomous retail service robot, in 11 stores in the San Francisco area to enhance the shopping experience by answering simple questions and keeping shelf inventory up to date. Mineta San Jose International Airport was the first airport to begin using customer service robots back in 2016 to provide travelers with directions, dining and shopping options.
The customer service robotics market is expected to grow to nearly $88 million by 2022.
Shaping The Future Of Business
AI, specifically robotics, continues to grow popularity, as proof of all of the products on display at this year’s CES. With the maturity of cloud platforms, the ubiquity of NLP algorithms, the rise of data science and the continued use of analytics, AI is paving the way for the future of business — and CES is a great place to witness its innumerable applications.
The article was originally published on Forbes and is reposted here by permission.