CES 2013: The future of the IT tech industry

CES 2013: The future of the IT tech industry

Summary: Sure it's called the "Consumer Electronics Show," and yes there are smart TVs and robot cars here, but you can also see the future of IT from the CES floor.

CES 2013
Sure, it may be a consumer show, but you can see IT's future from the CES show-floor.

Las Vegas – While some people—cough, Jason Perlow, cough—might think that CES is a waste of time, I think that if you look past the consumer hype you can see IT's future from the showroom floor.

If that sounds silly to you, consider for a moment that the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) sprang from consumer technology. Some IT managers may still not like BYOD, but the simple fact is that consumer smartphones like the iPhone pushed out RIM's Blackberry because of BYOD and tablets came to many offices because home-users loved their iPads. 21th century IT administrators ignore consumer tech at their own risk.

Take, for example, the points that Shawn Dubravac, CEA's Chief Economist and Sr. Director of Research made during his presentation, CES 2013 State of the Consumer Tech Industry pre-show keynote.

See also: Complete CES 2013 coverage on CNET

According to Dubravac we're moving into the "post-smartphone era." He pointed out that when Apple released the iPhone in 2007, the emphasis was on its use as a phone. Today, "65% of the time we spend on mobile phones is not communications. Even adding in e-mail, texting, and so on, smartphones are no longer about communication."

So what are they about then? They're becoming interfaces to services. The smartphone has become “the viewfinder of your digital life." What that means for IT is that, like or lump it, you'll need to be develop more smartphone-friendly apps. The smartphone is becoming the 21st century worker's first computing tool. 

At the same time, smartphone and tablets will be continuing to add sensors, such as multiple cameras, microphones, and accelerometers. They are also becoming hubs for other sensors such as blood-pressure and glucose monitors. All this data is going to be put to use.

As Dubravac said, "Data is the new currency." We're used to this idea on the Web, but Dubravac pointed out that we're already seeing data gathered from devices being used in the real world. Progressive Insurance already has a program, Snapshot, that can give you as much as a 30% break on your car-insurance rates if you install a black box on your car that lets the company monitor how often you slam on the brakes, how many miles you drive, and how much time you spend driving between midnight and 4 AM.

Take this technology to the next logical steps: Insurance companies offer their best rates only to drivers who will let their driving be tracked. Do you decide to use similar technology monitor your truck-drivers in real time? Do you set a program to keep an eye on your teenager's driving and install a software governor on their "smart" care to make sure they don't speed?

It's a slippery slope between breach of privacy and making the best use of employee real-time device data, but it's a slope we will all be navigating sooner than you might think.

Dubravac also noted two separate trends that spell change ahead for network administrators. The first is "high pixel density spill." By this he means that we're going to see a continued shift to ever higher resolution, such as Apple's Retina Display, on all our devices. With all our screens showing 1080p video, we're going to demand even more bandwidth from our already straining networks.

At the same time, Dubravac said 350 million devices with IP (Internet protocol) addresses will ship in 2013. So, do you still think you can get away with delaying your IPv6 migration? I don't.

Dubravac also said that we're becoming "digital omnivores." We're consuming more and more data from multiple screens.

While Dubravac concentrated on what this move to the "second screen" means for the living room, what sprang to my mind is how we're going to need to work to smooth workers' transition from one screen to another.

For example, say someone reads something on their smartphone they want to use in a report they'll write on their PC. Both Microsoft, with Windows 8, and Canonical, with Ubuntu Linux, believe that presenting users with a common interface for all these screens is the way to smooth a worker's path.

Finally, Dubravac sees gesture and voice, especially voice, becoming increasingly important in how we work with our devices. He believes that Apple Siri and the like are only the start to a path that will lead us to Star Trek-style computer communications.

This, however, doesn't mean that we'll need quieter workplaces. He also commented that thanks to all those sensors in our phones, such as the rear-facing microphone on the iPhone 5, our devices are getting better at "listening" to us.

Put it all together and -- while Dubravac didn't use the term  e clearly sees us moving into an era of pervasive computing, where most of the devices around us communicate with us and each other and are "aware" of us.

Google Glass looks to a future where we'll wear our computing displays within our glasses. Dubravac sees a future where everything around us, even our windows or mirrors, can serve as displays, where all our devices are watching us even when we're not actively using them. What will our offices look like then? Indeed, what will our world look like?

I don't know, but I do know that it's easier to come up with questions like that from CES' showroom floor than not.

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Topics: CES, Broadband, Bring Your Own Device, Tech Industry, Ubuntu, Tablets, Software, Smartphones, Operating Systems, Networking, IT Priorities, Hardware, Emerging Tech, Windows 8

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  • Welcome Social, Mobile, & Connected Consumer Revolution

    I wouldn't call it a "post-smartphone era." People are more connected now than ever in the future. we have seen a major shift in the tools & methods people use to communicate.

    Communication methods & device preferences have shifted. Additionally consumers are now using more devices & not tethered to one piece of hardware like a traditional PC or landline phone. I can't wait to see what the next iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Nexus Tablet will allow us to do next.

    Welcome to the social, mobile, & connected consumer revolution. Please standby for more technology disruption to come...
  • Here we go, the rollercoaster is.beginning to move, gain momentum

    CES 2013 will also see sight control being introduced into the market and your article clearly presents the movement into what Win8 makes possible.
  • Trying hard

    To justify the cost of going to CES???
  • Technology is a double-edged sword

    that can be used for good, much good, but also for much evil. A tyrannical government can now be empowered to monitor anybody they want to 24/7. History shows that anything that human beings can do, they will do, regardless of its ramifications.
  • Mobile (upward)

    Technology is becoming integrated into our lives more and more. It is crazy to see how much development there has been over the past year. I can only imagine what 2013 holds. Check out Mobile year in review 2012: http://mobilefuture.org/content/pages/mobile_year_in_review_2012_infographic
  • "Do U decide to use similar technology monitor ur truck-drivers in realtime

    FYI! Trucking companies have been doing this for years now through GPS. Maybe not through their smartphones but certainly through equipment hardwired to their trucks, this is NOT new!
    • monitor ur truck-drivers

      Right you are, smercer@.... An IT company i once joined released such applications already in the 90's! Onboard consoles running applications that talk real time with corporate IT. Even monitoring critical processes such as refrigerated cargo.

      The BYOD hype should not be exaggerated.
  • CES

    CES - NO definition on earlier media announcements - I "assumed" Cuerpo de Seguridad - formerly run by Col. Aguilar (interesting character). . .
  • ex

    my buddy's step-mother makes $87 hourly on the laptop. She has been without work for five months but last month her income was $12679 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this web site. http://xurl.es/qnq7x
    • Re: ex

      Looks rather tricky, the Home Profit System website is closed as a vault and doesn't give you any information unless you registrate first.
  • BYOD - Bring your own device.

    Yes, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) may seem to benefit the employer as the person bringing his own device is familiar with it and can trouble shoot quickly any problem that may arise. However, BYOD is of limited value as compatibality issues often arise and sometimes a whole work day is wasted trying to fix the compatability issue etc.
    The evolution of IT is remarkable. In the near future I see Build (not bring) your own Device replacing Bring your own devices. I expect the new devices to be entertainment toys for the home and work horses in the place of employment.
    Sarjeet Gill
  • The virtual office...

    With all the technology around and many places with WiFi I'm disappointed that virtual office has really taken off. With greenbelt areas coming under pressure from developers and companies looking to save costs, surely shutting down and selling up sub-offices is the way to go?