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This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was bigger than ever, with many companies flaunting “smart,” internet-connected products. Collectively, these trends will change the way companies harness customer intelligence in the years ahead.

Here’s a glimpse into the top tech trends that I saw at this year’s show.

  1.    Connected everything

Last year, the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) was front and center, and this year's show was no different. During his keynote speech, Samsung Electronics CEO Boo-Keun Yoon revealed that 100% of its products would be connected to the internet in 5 years. IoT “has the potential to transform the economy, our society, and how we live our lives,” according to Yoon. Indeed, from health sensors to smart light bulbs, companies showed off internet-connected products that promise to give people more information and more data about their own consumption.

  1.    Security

Following the high profile hacking of major companies and celebrities, privacy is top of mind for many people. Companies at CES are responding to this need, offering products that promise to protect your property, your data and your identity. The show’s Personal Privacy Marketplace featured products such as the iWallet, a biometric wallet that uses fingerprint scanning technology.

  1.    Virtual reality

Virtual reality got a major boost in 2014 when Facebook acquired Oculus Rift. At this year’s show, we got a glimpse into the future of this technology. With products like Sony’s Morpheus, a headset for PS4, virtual reality will shape not just the evolution of gaming but also of entertainment.

  1.    Drones

Drone lovers had a lot to talk about at CES. No longer just toys, this year’s drones came in all imaginable sizes, including a model that’s being targeted for military use. As more personal drones enter the market, privacy, safety and regulatory issues will come up, so both manufacturers and consumers should tread carefully.

  1.    Chinese-made products

Chinese technology firms took a lot of real estate at this year’s show, proving that China is doing some significant work catching up with the US, South Korea and other tech giants. As Forbes has noted, notable products from Chinese brands at the show include Lenovo’s Window Yoga Tablet with AnyPen Technology and ZTE’s second-generation smart generator.

  1.    Convergence of media and tech

The convergence of media and technology was evident at the show’s new C-Space. iHeartRadio touted partnerships with tech companies, promising to integrate its service into more devices. The streaming music company will be one of the first apps ready for Google’s new Cast for audio system. This partnership helps demonstrate why media companies today need to understand technology, not just content.

  1.    3D printing

Just like last year, 3D printing had a big presence at CES this year. While personal 3D printing remains somewhat expensive, this technology is already transforming manufacturing in the B2B space, allowing companies to print what they need instead of ordering them.

  1.    Robotics

For the most part, robotics is still in its infancy. Many of the products I saw had limited AI, and were capable of doing one or two small things like watering your garden or reminding you to finish a task. While this technology is still a few years away from truly making an impact, I predict that its presence at the annual CES will grow in the next decade.

The takeaway

This year’s CES demonstrates a movement towards devices connecting more seamlessly to each other. We’re heading to an era of not just big data, but huge data. This will be especially true with the widespread adoption of IoT. At first glance, this evolution might seem like a good thing for companies, but big data rarely leads to insight.

More broadly, these tech trends speak to the importance of building genuine customer relationships. Today’s empowered customer has instant access to a plethora of information about your brand, and expect an ongoing, two-way conversation with your company. The companies that succeed do so by listening to their customers and putting them at the centre of their decision-making process.

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Photo credit: CEA Blog

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