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CES 2018 conference highlights key enterprise technology trends

by Lauren Horwitz

Managing Editor, Cisco.com

If you’re wondering about the key enterprise technology trends on hand at the recent CES 2018 conference, can you say robots, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things?

 

The CES 2018 conference showcases consumer-based technologies.

But despite the clear consumer orientation of the show, the key trends on offer at CES 2018 are permeating the enterprise space as well. We discussed some of these trends with Brent Leary, a partner at CRM Essentials, just following CES 2018. Check out part one and part two of our video, at right, which explore the key trends.

Robots. Robots are already making their way into the enterprise. Consider that Amazon, the online giant, has recently installed 75,000 robots in its fulfillment centers to handle tasks that were formerly completed by humans. “The big impact that robots are going to have is freeing up humans from the more routine, more mundane … kind of tasks,” Leary said. At the same time, there is ample concern about how robots and other technology trends, including artificial intelligence, could permanently unsettle the human workforce.

Conversational interfaces. Smart voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo are becoming commonplace in the home. More than 50 million smart speaker devices are predicted to be sold in 2018. Voice has a clear advantage over previous media, in that voice-activated, hands-free products enable humans to interact with technology in a much more natural way.

Hype about these technologies is still gathering steam, Leary said, but that will likely give way to downsides as conversational interfaces become more pervasive. “You’re seeing more people gravitate to these things. I think we’re going to get to a point where there’s going to be a big security breach with some of this stuff. We haven’t seen it yet, but we know, through history, when we get to a fevered pitch . . . there is going to be a data breach. But right now, the euphoria for the devices is outstripping the need for security,” Leary explained.

Artificial intelligence (AI). Leary said artificial intelligence has gained momentum just over the past year, with one AI platform generating half a billion predictions every day. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg.” Leary said. Internet of Things (IoT)-connected sensors play a role in these developments, generating staggering amounts of data. “This constant [stream of] data can be used and leveraged in these AI platforms to come up with insights we couldn’t even imagine. We’re finally at the end of the beginning stages,” Leary said.

Videos

CES 2018 conference highlights robots, AI

CES 2018 highlights smart infrastructure, AR

Augmented reality (AR). The prospects for AR are great, said Leary, but wider adoption is being held back by cost and a lack of maturity in the technology. “The difference between what’s happening in the smart speaker market and the AR market is price: It’s hard to get a good headset under $800 or $900. We’re at a price point where it’s hard for the technology to take off fully.” Leary said that enterprise interest in augmented reality technology hasn’t fully developed yet. Until prices come down and the technology matures further, with fewer barriers between the virtual environment and the surrounding physical environment, augmented reality growth might be incremental.

Smart infrastructure. Smart infrastructure has improved efficiency and even cut costs in burgeoning cities. Consider Barcelona, one of the hardest hit by the recession in 2008. Since 2012 it has implemented smart city technologies, including public transit, parking, street lighting and waste management. Initiatives have brought substantial savings, including 30% energy savings and 25% water conservation. “It’s augmenting what we’re doing in our own homes,” Leary said, given technologies such as Nest smart thermostats, smart security systems and more. Leary noted that the strides that have been made in smart home technology will likely make the case more persuasive for smart infrastructure projects. “People are getting a taste of technology in smart homes. The benefits seem to outweigh the costs for folks. Once they get a taste of it, they’re going to demand it,” Leary predicted.

For more on CES 2018 conference and how it highlights key enterprise technology trends, check out our two-part video above.

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Lauren Horwitz is the managing editor of Cisco.com, where she covers the IT infrastructure market and develops content strategy. Previously, Horwitz was a senior executive editor in the Business Applications and Architecture group at TechTarget;, a senior editor at Cutter Consortium, an IT research firm; and an editor at the American Prospect, a political journal. She has received awards from American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), a min Best of the Web award and the Kimmerling Prize for best graduate paper for her editing work on the journal article "The Fluid Jurisprudence of Israel's Emergency Powers.”