Qilai Shen/Bloomberg© 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP
The holidays may be over, but it’s still the most wonderful time of the year for tech enthusiasts. CES, the world’s largest consumer technology event, brings together thousands of people from around the world to showcase the newest gadgets and technological developments. If something big is coming to technology, it starts at CES. I always say customer experience should make customers’ lives easier and better. Technology isn’t everything, but it proves to be the secret sauce of some of today’s most beloved customer experiences. People love their devices as much as they love their best friends. Customers expect consumer grade technology from their customer experiences they have with brands. As our products improve their ability to predict our needs, know our preferences and serve us in increasingly important ways, companies will be better able to serve customers. It’s all about the tech.
A lot of the technology that will be showcased next week can have huge influence on customer experience. As a customer experience futurist focused on helping companies make customers’ lives better, I’m excited to see new applications. There are products to make our lives easier, improve retail shopping and help brands better connect with consumers.
Here are the top ten customer experience related trends I’m looking for at CES 2019.
1. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence has topped CES for the past few years, and for good reason. AI is the foundation of most other new technology, including IoT and 5G. Representatives from some of the most innovative AI companies will discuss how to integrate AI into the workplace, how AI can be used to empower and assist humans, the ethics of AI and much more. AI can transform everything from how we get entertainment to how brands connect with customers, so a strong understanding of the latest development is crucial for customer experience.
2. Augmented And Virtual Reality
Perhaps nowhere else in CES looks more like a sci-fi movie than the AR and VR display areas. Representatives from healthcare, sports, entertainment and more show off their newest developments. We’ve seen a huge boom in consumer AR and VR in recent years, and trends indicate it will continue to improve. One of the sleekest and most in-demand products should be the Vuzix Blade AR glasses, which allow for hands-free AR overlays on transparent lenses. Hopefully I get to try them out!
3. Internet Of Things
One of the biggest trends for CES 2019 will be new applications for the Internet of Things. Consumers and brands already use the IoT every day with connected devices. The technology will continue to expand in new areas for both enterprise and personal use. IoT technology on display is expected to be flashy and exciting, but there will also be sessions about strategically applying IoT solutions to be as efficient as possible.
4. Smart Homes
Today’s customers live in connected homes where appliances and electronics can talk to each other. Nearly everything in my home can be controlled from my smartphone or tablet, which makes things so efficient. Some of the top smart home companies, including Whirlpool and Ring, will present their latest products at CES. The growth of smart homes puts power back in consumers’ hands and allows them to run a seamless home while still going about their normal lives. This year, “smart” isn’t just lip service—it really means something, and I’m excited to see what it is.
5. Autonomous Vehicles
Self-driving cars have been in the works for a while, and CES is the best place to see the newest models and even test drive autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles open the door to dozens of potential uses, ranging from mass transportation to supply chain management. However, there is still a consumer stigma around self-driving cars, and the path to global legislation seems long. Discussions at CES will cover the challenges and opportunities of autonomous vehicles while showcasing the best and brightest new cars.
6. 3D Printing
Imagine being able to quickly produce a medical implant, robot part or the latest consumer gadget. It’s all possible with 3D printing. The technology has applications to industries ranging from aerospace to automotive, but it could also have a big impact on the customer experience. After all, 3D printing makes it easier to produce items quickly and less expensively with almost no waste. Companies at CES will showcase the latest 3D printing options and how the technology can be applied to all industries.
7. Digital Health
Customer experience is huge in healthcare, as is the industry-wide digital transformation. Patients now have the power to control more aspects of their health than ever before. Technology is making it easier and more convenient to accurately diagnose, monitor and treat a litany of health conditions. Automation makes it easier for both patients and providers, which is huge win for CX. CES will include exhibitors demonstrating the hottest digital health tools and applications.
Blockchain is everywhere and has the potential to create more secure transactions for customers and businesses. Discussions at CES will focus on the applications for blockchain and cryptocurrency and what can be done to regulate and get involved in the space. No matter if you’re an expert or if you’re still trying to wrap your head around blockchain like me, you should pay attention to this important financial technology.
Connectivity is today’s currency, and 5G is the key to connectivity. Experts predict a full 5G rollout could happen as soon as 2019. The impact of that could be astounding! 5G affects everything from wearable devices to sensors and self-driving cars. For consumers, it means getting information faster and having nearly instantaneous access to data, activities and entertainment. Executives from some of the biggest cellular companies will share how all industries can prepare for the 5G revolution and what it means for companies and customers.
10. Wearable Tech
One of the flashiest places to be at CES is the Wearables Marketplace, which showcases everything from the latest fitness bands to smart jewelry and dog collars. Wearable devices have numerous sensors to get real-time data on users and their surroundings. They can track fitness information, mood, medical conditions and so much more. Experts predict wearable trends for CES 2019 to include improved sleep tracking technology and designer smart watches. Who knows, I might just come back with a smart new fashion accessory.
CES sets the tone for technology for the year. The discussions and products on display can transform the modern customer experience, if brands just pay attention and are willing to adopt new technology. See you there!
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.