It’s always fun to take a look at the tech trends from the annual Consumer Electronic Show (CES) every January. There’s certainly plenty of entertainment value in seeing mammoth 8K TVs or hearing about conference-wide blackouts.
Despite all the cool tech and notable fails, some CES trends highlight big changes that will send waves through your small business and its operations.
Here are our big takeaways from CES:
Everything Is “AI”; So What Is “AI”?
Lots of products displayed at CES were promoted with the claim that they’re “powered” by artificial intelligence (AI). It was the hot term of CES 2018. Unfortunately, it’s mostly just hype.
Marketers are capitalizing on the energy and value around actual AI applications. But just because a software can use data analytics to detect trends doesn’t mean it’s AI.
This puts the onus on you as a business leader to do your due diligence. If you’re considering employing AI (and you should be in the next two years), think about it in the context of how it can improve your business and provide competitive advantages in your industry/sector/field.
Here are some current real world use cases that show how AI is transforming entire industries:
- AI-enabled chatbots can answer inquiries from both internal and external stakeholders. This frees up customer service/help desk resources for more technical tasks.
- Logistics organizations can employ AI to optimize fulfillment and demand planning. The AI can account for more variables in planning and decision making than any human could.
- Anyone that’s shopped on Amazon has seen the personalization capabilities AI offers retailers. As more vendors fold AI into their software, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) can harness this power too.
Here’s what it boils down to:
AI is very useful for classifying and making predictions based on enormous data sets.
The key here is “enormous data sets.” Do you have large scale data sets that you’d like to get meaningful classifications and business predictions from?
If not, you’re part of the majority (for now). But that’s where your AI journey must begin. Figure out the key performance data you need to be monitoring. Then get the systems in place now to start gathering that data. Then you can apply an AI to get the insights you need to make informed decisions.
If you do have a lot of quality and cleaned data, then determine what kind of predictions AI could draw from that data and give you a competitive advantage. Once you have that, you can frame your conversations with vendors around that use case.
Gender Inequality in Tech Is Real—Long Live Women in Tech
Tweet from Kristin Lemkau, CMO at JPMorgan Chase, listing some of the keynote-worthy female tech leaders
The Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, responded to the backlash from female tech leaders and activists by touting prior female keynotes and assuring CES 2019 will be different.
Look, we all have inherent biases—gender, race, etc. These biases shape us internally and influence how we relate to the world.
But by striving to be aware of our biases, we can connect with more people and better understand the world around us. It’s the same in business.
If businesses could see beyond the inherent biases of their operation (e.g., lack of workforce diversity, targeted customer bases, broken processes) they might:
- Find new customer bases and markets to sell their products and services to
- Spot adjacent products/services to bring to market
- Discover new talent pools to source employees
- Let go of old, broken processes and welcome innovation
- Unveil software that can take their business to new heights
Self-Driving Cars Are Almost Here (And Guess What: You’ll Never Own One)
Are you ready to take your business on the road? Because Toyota is ready for you to take your business on the road.
Toyota’s new mobility ecosystem and autonomous concept, the e-Pallete
Self-driving vehicles have been in and out of the news for the past couple of years. But soon they’ll be driving in a lane next to you. And as you’ve no doubt heard, they’re going to change everything—even the idea of ownership.
Take Toyota’s e-Pallete concept. They describe it as “fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses.”
What stands out the most here is the part about “Mobility as a Service businesses.”
Mobility-as-a-Service, or MaaS, signals a departure from personal vehicles. You’re not going to want or be able to own a personal self-driving vehicle anytime soon, especially if you can just subscribe to a service. What we’re seeing is a move to an ecosystem of on-demand mobility—including calling various modes of personal transportation, shipping goods, and ordering food and deliverable products.
This is understandably exciting from a “person in this world” perspective, but what will MaaS mean for your business? Well, a few things:
- MaaS will provide same day fulfillment and delivery for localized online orders. Retail businesses will now more than ever need a crystal clear, bulletproof view of their entire inventory. They’ll need automated systems to disable products from being ordered if stock runs out.
- Some manufacturers, large and small, will need to be agile and fulfill reorders on-demand. For example, if a retailer sells out of your product by noon, they should be able to restock that product within the time it takes to get from your warehouse to their store.
- Many businesses will offer mobile, on-demand branches. Some examples include: apparel, restaurants, general markets and groceries, office supplies, medical practices, laundry services, and many many more. This will require vast strategic thinking and conversations. Many will fail, but those left will define the next generation of consumer experience.
What You Should Do as Soon as You Stop Reading
Whether you’re interested in AI, overcoming your operational biases, or preparing to take your business on the road, start by assessing the health of your core, foundational systems. This includes any customer relationship management (CRM) systems, accounting or ledger systems, or any other systems that create and/or store data that’s essential to your business.
If you don’t have any of these systems in place, or if your current systems are broken or outdated, take a breath. You’re not alone. However, you must act now or risk falling behind your competition and stunting the long-term viability of your operation.
Let Software Advice do the heavy-lifting for you. We’re a free service here to guide you on your software buying journey. We’ll help you pinpoint the capabilities you need and find the best corresponding systems for those needs. Visit our site today to learn more about the systems than can bring these CES trends to your business.