During the past several months, Accenture has done extensive research and engaged with a broad range of clients to identify the big stories to watch at the fast-approaching CES 2016. Based on that, here is what we expect the major stories to be:
Say Goodbye To Cool, Hello to Security and Safety
At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets. There will be plenty of those again, but that will not be the show’s main theme. The prevailing stories will center on security, safety and health services that help consumers in their daily lives.
Our new digital consumer survey, which will be released during the event, indicates that consumers want products and services that improve their security, safety and health. Exhibitors will address this demand through services that deliver smart home security and medical devices. These devices, for example, can inform consumers of their heart rate and give them the fastest route to a hospital in an emergency.
Market Slowdown, Innovation Interlude
At 2015 CES Accenture unveiled findings revealing purchase intentions trending downward in several major high-tech product categories such as smartphones, tablet PCs and HDTVs. We expect sharper declines in the new year.
Our results hammer home the reality that this downward trend is accelerating for many of the largest consumer technology device markets. Slowing consumer purchasing and a dearth of breakthrough innovations are dampening the industry’s progress. And the newer segments such as smartwatches, health fitness monitors, and smart home thermostats remain small and are not growing fast.
Devoid of high-impact innovations, service providers will have more prominence at the show than at any previous CES.
IoT Hyper Mania Hits Hard Reality: Security
At 2015 CES the hype about the Internet of Things (IoT) was almost off the charts. It was arguably the biggest story at the show. Optimism and excitement were palpable and with good reason.
IoT is a market opportunity with a realistic outlook and promising returns. Connecting, sharing and sending more data to more people and devices is possible with communication network systems and sensors. Mining that data for more personalized and useful experiences is also attainable with IoT products and services. This amounts to a multi-billion-dollar market powered by connected devices that deliver numerous functions and services.
But there’s a roadblock that could prevent this from happening: security. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of the data they share with companies and others. They are worried their private information, including identity, money and personal behaviors, will be stolen. Recent break-ins into the payment systems of high profile corporations have heightened concerns.
As the IoT starts to coalesce, it is natural for consumers to question how protected their personal information is on these devices. The issue threatens the IoT market’s near- and long-term growth.
At the last show this was not the story. Count on it being one this time. If consumer technology companies cannot address IoT security, the industry is not going to grow as fast as predicted.
The good news is CES provides a platform for IoT security to improve and assuage consumers’ concerns. Last CES, in fact, a special cybersecurity and personal security forum debuted; eighty-two exhibitors participated. This time expect more companies to display these types of products and services.
One sign of progress in security is use of password alternatives. These offer security without the hassle of changing or keeping track of long access codes. Watch for CES news about alternative technologies involving biometric solutions across a wider array of devices and services featuring advanced encryption processes.
New Spin On Wearables: Services
The big news about wearables at CES the past few years has centered on making the devices more fashionable and using them, for example, to track activities such as the number of steps a wearer takes in a day to help monitor their physical conditioning or calories consumed.
Broader, more robust services will be the new spin on the wearable story. Exhibitors will show that wearables will do more by leveraging more sophisticated sensors such as those with embedded global positioning satellite services. Powered by analytics, the services will deliver consumers more valuable contextual data to help them augment their health regimen in many ways.
Wearable companies will also be present in larger numbers than ever. More than 150 health, wellness and fitness technology companies will display offerings during the 2016 show — all of which are tied closely to the wearables category. Expect to see devices that are more transparent, accurate and personalized to the individual.
Cool Cars Take Backseat To Safer Cars
If you have roamed the halls of CES in recent years, you might think you were attending a car show.
Car manufacturers drive a significant portion of the agenda and occupy plenty of floor space. Nine major automakers and more than 100 automotive technology companies are slated to be on site, including Audi, BMW, Chrysler, GM, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes, Toyota and Volkswagen. Overall, there is going to be a 25 percent increase in car exhibitors compared with last time.
Cool car technologies will take a backseat to car services that enhance driver safety and productivity. During recent CES events, automotive exhibitors have touted the car as an Internet-connected device highlighting technologies that connect cars to smartphones and TVs as well as powerful new infotainment systems.
This time, these types of snazzy applications will not be as prevalent as security and safety services. Among these services will be new collision-avoidance technology, anti-carjacking technology, cars that communicate with and learn from each other by sharing data, and more sophisticated advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Also featured in the car showcases will be a wave of news about self-driving (driverless) cars. A consensus is forming among auto experts that driverless technology will reach widespread adoption by 2030. For these vehicles car companies will focus on driver security and safety.
John Curranismanaging director, communications, media & technology, for Accenture, the global management consultancy.