As the global stage for digital technology, CES 2019 in Las Vegas showcases everything that is being done now, or happening next, in digital innovation. This year's show focuses on artificial intelligence, the latest seismic shift. Total is right there leading the pack by partnering with innovative start-ups in the field.
When it comes to digital innovation, CES — formerly the Consumer Electronics Show — is the annual gathering most eagerly anticipated by the entire high-tech world. From January 8 to 11, Las Vegas will host nearly 200,000 visitors, 4,500 exhibitors and 6,500 members of the media.
Debuting in 1967 with 250 exhibitors and 17,500 visitors, the CES international exhibition and conference has been the launch pad for every major leisure, healthcare, transportation, education, agricultural production and manufacturing innovation in our daily lives. Fifty-two years later, it covers topics such as artificial intelligence, 5G connectivity, new equipment, gaming, health and wellness, self-driving cars and smart cities.
CES 2019: 52nd World Gathering for Digital Innovation
Already a powerful trend in 2018, artificial intelligence — AI — is the next big technology breakthrough being showcased at the 2019 event. The Big Four — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — have already invested millions of dollars to create robust, complex systems for AI hardware and technologies ostensibly able to simulate human intelligence. This year, CES is presenting smaller players with solutions that integrate AI into personal or work devices, from TV sets to industrial monitoring, vehicles and golf gear.
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Digital Tech, a Key Driver
For an energy major such as Total, going digital is a key driver and AI a basic technological building block. Michael Offredi, Total's Digital Ecosystem & Innovation Officer, points out that: "Total allocates $400 million a year to the digital transformation, to address fundamental issues such as industrial safety, operational performance, cost reduction, customer and employee experience and new, innovative business solutions."
That is why Total is back at CES for a second straight year. "Our presence reflects the company's keen interest in digital tech and strong relationship with the sector's start-ups," says Michael Offredi. This year, Total has teamed up with Dassault Systèmes and Air France, under the aegis of Paris Region the agency in charge of promoting the Paris region internationally, to focus on a pivotal topic: applied artificial intelligence. "We have three goals here," says Michael Offredi: "To spread the word about our open innovation programs and the topics of interest to us that it's important we work with start-ups on; to publicize our existing partnerships with start-ups; and to demonstrate Total's approach and commitment to innovation."
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Start-Ups, Essential Innovation Partners
Total came to CES 2019 alongside and supported by four start-ups it partners with on AI:
- • DCBrain, which works on AI applied to complex networks (smart grids and smart logistics).
- • eSoftThings, which specializes in developing products and platforms for autonomous vehicles and smart devices.
- • Fieldbox.ai, which helps industry use AI to improve operational performance.
- • Uavia, a digital platform to manage autonomous drones.
"Total's partnerships with start-ups is a fairly recent development, but has already proved fertile," stresses Michael Offredi. "To speed up innovation in our activities and identify new businesses, we worked with more than 250 such companies in 2018." Collaboration can involve the company's R&D teams co-developing innovations with start-ups that have solutions, or Total's Plant 4.0 incubator, which hosts start-ups so they can test their solutions under real-world production conditions. In addition to real-world projects, Total has nurtured a "start-up culture" that helps employees identify all partner start-ups and their expertise, to enlist their help. The Total Booster lab, deployed in Paris and coming soon to Pau, France, is another digital acculturation resource that can be used to incubate in-house start-ups.
Total's Executive Committee is the engine behind this cultural shift. For example, it takes a digital & innovation week each year to learn from different innovation ecosystems around the world (Silicon Valley, India, China). This year it's taking them to CES in Las Vegas. Gilles Cochevelou, Total's Chief Digital Officer, observes that: "CES in Las Vegas is a key event for innovative technology. It sets the tone for the rest of the year and introduces us to many breakthrough concepts in areas of interest to us […]. We come to see what's new; what we learn here feeds innovation and digital development at Total." An opinion that Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of Total, shared after touring CES 2019: "Digital technology makes us even more efficient […]. Total needs digital technology to keep working."