Presented by CSG

The future is here — but that doesn’t mean we can’t still look forward.

It’s easy to ask how smart devices can get smarter; to wonder how to satisfy a plugged-in society that’s used to having every convenience at a literal arm’s length.

“Customers expect access to their services whenever and wherever they want, and they expect a consistent user experience across devices,” said Ken Kennedy, Executive Vice President and President of Technology and Product at CSG, a leader in digital transformation. “Today’s customer is conditioned to expect immediate gratification, and anything less will result in a dissatisfied customer.”

Netflix just announced, promoted, and released a movie with a $50 million budget on the same night. NBC is mainstreaming virtual reality with its coverage of the Winter Olympics. Innovations are happening faster than most people can keep track of. If you want a glimpse into what else the future holds, here are four tech upgrades set to change how we use our devices.

1. AR and VR are the future

We’ve all been there: aimlessly walking through the store with a basket full of items we don’t need, looking for the one thing we do. Some tech companies are working to change that with innovative VPS technology, an augmented reality system that uses cameras to map indoor locations.

Verizon is also investing heavily in the AR space, creating simulated cities out of its Massachusetts innovation center to streamline everything from basic infrastructure planning to more in-depth civil engineering.

Meanwhile, NBC focused on providing easier access to virtual reality in its coverage of the Olympics. Because of tools like Oculus, Google Daydream, or simply panning-and-scanning on your phone, watching NBC’s 50-plus hours of VR Olympic coverage was as easy as signing up for a subscription. It allowed you to get up close to the action, without having to deal with Pyeongchang’s subzero temperatures.

2. Consolidated spending

Simply put, there are almost too many ways to spend money these days. From your Google Wallet to your PayPal account — not to mention your everyday bank accounts — it can be easy to lose track of where your money is coming from and where it’s going. That’s why streaming services like Netflix, ride sharing apps like Uber, and all-in-one services like Amazon are bigger than ever: they’ve streamlined the billing process.

Whether it’s Dynamics’ Wallet Card, an IoT payment solution that can load an almost infinite number of cards onto what otherwise looks like a regular bank card, or the increasingly popular Near-Field Communication (NFC) solutions from Apple and Android, making it easier (and safer) for consumers to streamline their billing is what will keep them loyal.

3. Keeping up with the cloud

It’s no secret that the digital landscape moves fast, but one constant is the cloud. Far from the abstract idea we once thought of it as, the cloud is more than just a place for files to live; in the era of Software as a Service (SaaS), it’s where a product lives.

But agility is key, especially when it comes to meeting consumers’ demands. The set-it-and-forget-it days of the past are now a surefire way to be left behind, which is where platforms like Ascendon come in. Ascendon is a SaaS, cloud-based platform offered by CSG. Ascendon reduces operating costs and unifies and streamlines a company’s digital ecosystem, freeing budget and resources to focus on customer-first initiatives, product innovation, and, perhaps most importantly, scale. It can integrate with legacy systems, allowing more traditional communications companies to adapt quickly and offer new services to customers in 90 days or less. It’s no wonder, then, that companies like Comcast and iflix and TalkTalk are on board.

4. Auto assistant

From Siri to Cortana to Alexa to the unnamed Google Assistant, smart speakers and digital assistants are becoming more and more commonplace in everyday households. For some, they’re part of the family. Customers expect to be able to discover content using a voice interface. That means less time fiddling with remotes and controllers, and more time getting what they want — and this extends beyond simply finding what to watch.

This year, that market heats up even further. Apple has thrown itself into the mix with its HomePod, while Google is taking things up a notch with its Android Auto Assistant. The future might not be flying cars and moon pies, but heading home in your driverless car and telling it to turn your coffee pot on, porch lights off, and to cue up the game on your Smart TV is a consolation not even The Jetsons could have predicted. You don’t even have to imagine instructing your PVR to record the Oscars while Alexa reads you your dinner recipe — that’s already possible.

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