The cloud is about to overtake the importance of platform. From a media device perspective, access to sharing of data will be prevalent, as content is on the verge of becoming device-agnostic. Soon, all devices will be able to access the data stored in your cloud. Disney is a living example, as the company has broken some ground in their ability to get both Apple and Android to partner together, allowing consumers to watch Disney content they’ve purchased and stored in their cloud on any platform of their choosing. This will give consumers a bit more power, since the focus will shift to the data and content they own and away from what devices they need to purchase to access it. This trend fits in lockstep with our next prediction, as all of our devices are soon to be connected to the internet. Additionally, it’s not just data that’s in the cloud; gaming companies and utilities will be built in the cloud, which will take less power off of mobile devices. The cloud-driven sea change is coming, and will be on display prominently at CES 2015.
The Internet of Things: More and more internet connected devices
Eventually, everything will be connected to the internet, and will be tapping into our personal cloud of data. At CES, we’ll see more and more devices that are connected. Wearables and household appliances are the first frontier, and more traditionally unconnected products will follow. While some traditionalist consumers may see no need to digitize everything, we’re already seeing the positive effects of connectivity. While hailing and paying a cab driver digitally might not feel like it’s saved us a lot of time, imagine how many other processes can be made more efficient, and how much it can add up? If our lights can turn on or off when we enter or leave our house automatically, and if our air conditioning can recognize when we’re close to our house and fix the temperature accordingly, a lot of mundane tasks will be eliminated from our daily routine, giving us more time to ourselves. This is also a welcome development for marketers. The more devices that are connected to the internet and tapping into the cloud, the more datasets marketers will have access to. This will allow marketers to be smarter and more targeted, creating compelling offers, value, and incentives. However, the amount of data that’s being created is worth monitoring, as it will be taxing on the cloud.
Context Aware technology
More technology will be context aware, understanding the world around consumers. Paying for gas may soon be automatic, as your connected devices will recognize that you’ve pulled into a gas station and will automatically process your payment as you’ve filled your tank. Context aware technology, however, goes far beyond location, which is already extremely prevalent (but is sure to improve). Connected devices are about to be aware of moods, surroundings, and behaviors, which will lead to innumerable possibilities. Hotels are an industry which could take advantage of context-aware technology in a big way. If technology can learn, say, someone’s sleep patterns and recognize the environment in which they get their best sleep, hotels can use this data to create personalized experiences upon folks checking in. Of course, the big issue here will be privacy concerns. We’ve seen that modern consumers are willing to allow access to some personal information provided there is value in return. But as context aware technology becomes more prevalent, will consumer moods shift? There will be a line that has to be drawn so that personalized experiences don’t become too big brother. This is an important conversation that will continue to take place.
Expect smart watches to be one of the most prominent products at this year’s show. Expect tons of them, as seemingly every company will have one on display. The questions will be: what is the feature set? And what will be the behavior that consumers want and expect from a smart watch? It isn’t likely that people will want the full suite of mobile services, but there will be a critical area of expected behavior that will emerge, and it could happen at this year’s conference. Don’t expect there to be one killer app for smart watches that emerges this year, but payments will be prominent, as well as smart watches being able to unlock doors and be a place for secondary identification security systems. An interesting thing to look out for will be how smart watches have evolved from a fashion perspective. Many consumers want a watch to look nice before they worry about its interconnectivity, so we’ll see how many companies have began to better blend the two functions.
Content will be a huge theme. Content is, and will continue to be, everywhere. It’s real-time, and location aware. In addition, we’re going to continue to see an influx of over-the-top content offerings, allowing people to stream content on any device, anywhere and at any time. A few big names have taken this step, with the WWE Network and HBO Go offering their content to consumers directly, and more should be on the horizon. Is there too much content out there? Many believe there is, but this means that we will start to see more niche-focused type of content. And in addition, the mass amount of content that’s out there is creating a need for tools that help consumers sort and discover content that is relevant to them. It will be interesting to see what emerges on this front.