As a $6.8 billion organization with $1 billion in inventory and 185,000 SKUs, Ingram Micro presents a ton of opportunities for its retailer and reseller partners to improve their business. But at their annual Consumer Technology Solutions (CTS) Conference in May, the distributor pitched attendees on the opportunity to “Connect” on multiple levels. Though a vague theme for the conference, the idea took hold throughout the week in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Ingram Micro CTS of course wanted attendees to connect with one another through networking opportunities—the staple of any conference. But they also wanted them to think about the ways technology allows us to connect with one another, and how that technology can position retailers and resellers to become leaders in the marketplace.
During a presentation on the show’s opening day, Alexandra Harding, Ingram’s director of vendor management and purchasing, talked about the work Ingram’s Business Intelligence team has done identifying whitespace opportunities in the consumer tech marketplace. One of the biggest: smart home tech.
In 2017, smart home tech will drive $14.6 billion in sales, Harding said. That number will jump to $32.2 billion by 2021, more than doubling. And looking through a global lens, the U.S. will drive nearly 80 percent of the global smart home market.
But the opportunity for smart home retailing doesn’t end there. Where retailers and resellers could see the biggest bump to their bottom line is on the commercial side of things. Small- and medium-sized businesses—which can operate almost like residential homes from a consumer tech perspective—can help drive new streams of revenue. And, thinking a little bigger, Harding pointed to larger commercial projects as a potential source of business. Outfitting new hotels or apartment complexes with the latest smart home technology and services is a great way for retailers to put their expertise to work and generate revenue.
Connecting with the Future
Smart home technology is still in the realm of “future technology” as consumers slowly begin adopting it, but Ingram wanted attendees to think even further into the future. So they brought in Michael Rogers, the former Futurist-in-Resident for The New York Times, to help spark some ideas about what the next decade could hold for the consumer tech space.
Rogers painted a mental picture for attendees of the type of world we might be living in by the mid-2020s. Key (potential) highlights include the full integration of 5G wireless technology, WiFi ubiquity meaning we’ll always be connected to the internet, a wearables resurgence, and no more battery anxiety. To that last point, Rogers explained that energy harvesting will emerge, which will let batteries essentially recharge themselves on things like body heat, the sun, physical movement, and other energy sources.
As for personal security in this always-connected world we’ll be living in, Rogers said he expects governments to come together to take steps towards a more-secure internet. One of those steps might include the creation of legal online identities, similar to a driver’s license. This might come in the form of a biometric key, an iris scan, or some similar yet-to-be-developed technology.
Rogers also touched on the autonomous car, saying that the quickest way for these driverless cars to get on the road might be by converting existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes into driverless car lanes. And while the development of fully functioning self-driving cars seems to be happening at a snails pace, Rogers explained that it’s not the car (or tech) companies holding things up from a consumer-ready release. Rather, it’s the insurance companies because of their unwillingness to begin writing up automobile policies for a sector that, to this point, remains completely unknown.
Ingram Micro CTS capped the week with their Vendor Expo. One of the most notable trends to come out of the event was the introduction of the gaming pavilion. Headlined by Intel, the space included tabletop displays from Ingram vendors in the gaming space, including Steelseries, MSI, Thrustmaster, BenQ, and more.
And while keyboards, gaming headphones, and widescreen monitors dominated the space, other unique peripherals were present, including gaming chairs, steering wheel controllers, graphics cards, and cooling towers, among many other accessories.