CES always throws up an entertaining blend of both the fantastic and the fantastical. With tech companies assembling annually in Las Vegas and attempting to cut through the noise with their latest innovations, the trade show certainly makes for a fascinating industry bellwether.
Recently, Gartner identified three interrelated trends that are currently driving digital business: the reality of smart devices beginning to make more decisions themselves, the better integration of smart devices into our everyday lives, and the eventual replacement of trained people with smart devices that have been developed to do the job in their place. At CES this year, there was evidence of all three.
The attendees at this year's event were treated to a wealth of concepts, from autonomous cars which pick up their owners at the touch of a smart watch, to 'smart socks' with sensors woven into their fabric. Exhibitors were also keen to underline the vast commercial potential of drone technology. As a result, robots took to the air in droves to demonstrate their value in areas such as logistics and services, as well as on the toy aisles.
To me, however, the growing interconnectedness between devices was the overwhelming theme at this year's CES. The potential for connectivity was widely exploited by exhibitors seeking to enable their devices to do more together, and Samsung notably pledged that every single one of its products would be interconnected within five years. It may well be that the much-talked about 'Internet of Things' finally becomes reality in the not-too-distant future.
There is still plenty of work to be done to develop standardised platforms before an 'IoT' revolution can take place. However, it is fair to say that data will be the lifeblood of the complex networks of smart devices which are set to become central to making our lives easier. Of course, all data must be stored somewhere, which means that the sustainability of this vision of interconnectedness is underpinned by one thing - sufficient and effective data storage.
The problem here, as I've highlighted before, is that the world's hard drives are filling up. Current estimates predict that global storage capacity will be outstripped by demand in 2016, and it is a fact of life that it is much easier to create new data than it is to create new storage capacity. The long-term answer to this problem is likely to be found among the number of innovative technologies that are currently in development. However, until these solutions are brought to market, we - and particularly the businesses that we run and for which we work - need to cultivate more intelligent approaches to storing data in the interim.
As an employee of the company currently responsible for storing close to half of the world's data, I recognize clearly its fundamental value in modern society. So, I was therefore delighted when we revealed our recent rebranding at CES this year which reflects just that: a changing world in which data is paramount. At the centre of the new brand is our "Living Logo", which showcases data as a living, vibrant thing powering human invention, culture, and advances. It is crucial to remember, however, that data, like all living things, needs to be managed carefully.