CES might come only once a year but for a tech hub like Silicon Valley, the innovation never stops. Home to the headquarters of tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Tesla, the Bay Area and its inhabitants live and breathe all things new and fresh in tech. Having moved here only a few short months ago from my home on the east coast, it was a big adjustment to encounter robot security guards in the mall, see everyone paying with their phones at the register, and have an Amazon Bookstore right down the road – but around here it's adapt or be left behind, so adapt I did. During my west coast adventures, I’ve noticed a number of themes that are sure to be disseminating into the global tech market in the coming months.
Blurring the Physical and Digital Line
In Silicon Valley, the line between the physical and digital world is blurring. From the augmented and virtual reality promised by the iPhone X, to self-driving cars, to wearables integrating tracking into our daily lives, we can no longer pretend the digital and physical worlds exist on two different planes. Not only are more interactions with companies moving online, but online companies are gaining a more physical presence as well, as exemplified by Amazon opening brick and mortar bookstores or Apple taking over renovation plans for D.C's Carnegie library.
Always On Demand
There isn’t anything you can’t have delivered nowadays; soon perhaps even by drone. In-home virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa make it easier than ever to have anything and everything dropped off at your front door. The demand for instant service has companies scrambling to keep up. We'll soon see Alexa competitors pumped out by tech giants like Sony, and industries like food service trying to meet delivery demands in order to keep up in the changing landscape. The Internet of Things is finally beginning to ripen into something functional, and companies that embrace it will in turn be embraced by forward-thinking consumers.
It might be a little late but, in the wake of the major security flaws being discovered in technology we rely on every day- like Bluetooth, companies and consumers alike are becoming cognizant of the serious security threats developing alongside all this exciting innovation. Tech companies are going to need to assure their customers that their information is safe and then keep that promise. In a time where it seems like there is a new major breech of security at large-scale companies on the daily, tech that truly makes a consumer feel their information is secure will shine.
Auto's New Home
Auto is taking over Silicon Valley, as exemplified by how many companies have opened offices here over the past few years. One such company everyone is keeping an eye on is Tesla, who’s promising a revolution in self-driving cars. Such a future might seem far off to the rest of the world, but here in Silicon Valley, they're banking on it being right around the corner. Google, Intel, and Tesla are all racing to bring their cars public, while Uber has already begun testing self-driving taxi services in some major cities, and Lyft has even started offering a class on autonomous vehicles. With tech innovations molding the future of auto, the industry's new home is Silicon Valley.
Morals can Make or Break You
Silicon Valley has experienced a whirlwind of PR crises lately, and it goes to show that the public’s demand for connection and convenience is never going to outweigh morals. Look at former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick being ousted over sexual misconduct, new startup Bodega receiving negative attention for cultural appropriation, or the Google lawsuit alleging sexism in the office. It doesn’t matter if your company is an enterprise or a startup –with society as connected as it is today, sketchy dealings aren’t going to get by unnoticed. Crises happen to everyone, but today, how one handles the situation is more important than ever before. It is critical to have a communications plan in place before disaster strikes, because in Silicon Valley if you have to stop to pick up the pieces of your company after a PR explosion – you're destined to be left behind.