The lack of anything new at CES might mean that 2020 is the year where reality begins to catch up with recent hype. It might also mean that companies, even industries, realise that continuing to create hype is not fooling investors. And investors, now more than ever, need to see real, tangible results.
You would think that the start of a new decade is the time to look forward to what the world might look like in 2030. Perhaps, instead, 2020 should be a year to reflect on what is possible now – and build on that. After all, purists will tell you that the decade actually starts next year, in 2021.
This reflection might glance backwards to where we were in 2010. In some cases, the world was not much different. Most of us had smartphones, most of us had Facebook, some Google apps and we bought things from Amazon. In these areas, the progress has been incremental.
The last decade, though, was one in which digital touched pretty much everything and every arena on earth. Even ‘agrarian’ industries such as farming and forestry have been touched, in many ways they have been transformed more than many others which have relied on digital solutions for a while.
If you reflect on the journey that ‘AI’ has taken over the last decade, however, the progress has been extraordinary and reflects the enormous investment in the technology. So, too, 5G and so, too, the IoT.
Brought together, it is as if we have made a blockbuster movie about a future world. We have sunk more money into it than any movie ever made. And now, we must release it – and our fingers are crossed.
Perhaps, therefore, it is a time to manage expectations instead of rushing in. As Richard Windsor says, now should be the time when we look at specific applications for the new technologies that have come so far in the last few years. We should look at AI applications in [insert name of industry, application or process]. We should look at 5G (as it stands now) in [insert name of industry, application or process]. We should avoid painting big pictures.
This year, the partnerships that have formed and reformed around these new ideas and technologies should consider whether the vision of the future that has been created (at least in Powerpoint Promises) should be released not as a blockbuster but as a Box Set, to be watched, appreciated and applauded over several years.
If not, then the elastic band that stretches between those Powerpoint Promises and Reality will be stretched ever further and ever tighter.
That can’t be good.