The Top Technology Trends of 2017
The only thing constant in the IT industry is that technology trends are never static and are always changing.
Spotting the next key trend is vitally important for businesses and individuals in order to maximise their revenue or career opportunities. Things that have been gaining underground traction are either ready to emerge in the mainstream or become essential for IT professionals to know.
Leading market research firm Gartner and other think tanks have been releasing their predictions for the upcoming 12 months. Here is our summation of what we think could be the key 2017 technology trends to look out for.
AI & Advance Machine Learning
Blade Runner and AI are no longer science fiction. AI is now a reality and is being used routinely in Cloud platforms by the likes of Google and Microsoft.
This phrase still triggers visions of ‘The Matrix or ‘The Terminator’ style machines becoming more intellectual than humans. But according to Jerry Kaplan, a Silicon Valley lecturer at Stanford, AI in today’s world is more about the “continuation of longstanding efforts to automate tasks.”
In practical terms, both established brands and startups are recognising that AI-infused analytics software and algorithms vastly increase their operating potential.
The advanced techniques can potentially “create systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously,” according to Gartner.
AI probably still won’t be able to do all the things the current hype machine suggests in 12 months. Even so, 2017 could be the year that it finally becomes a normal or desired business service.
The buzz surrounding Bitcoin might have subsided but the technology behind the digital currency called blockchain has enormous potential.
The blockchain is a way of distributing a database across many far-flung computers, keeping track of digital ledgers, transactions and possibly coins. These entries – or blocks - are digitally signed off ensuring their authenticity and integrity and are then distributed across an established infrastructure.
Significant cooperation still needs to occur in order for blockchain to become the favoured transaction for digital businesses. But seeing as blockchain can be configured to work in a variety of supply chain industries – such as healthcare - Gartner estimates the first $1bn blockchain corporation will exist by 2022.
One of if not the most favoured technology trends in the 21st century have been the ability to personally communicate with devices. This has mainly been possible through our own voice or through ‘chatbots’.
2017 promises to be a year where interfaces will become increasingly intelligent and conversational. Not only will we be able to routinely verbally interact with Siri or Alexa but also text apps asking them to carry out tasks.
These conversational things can understand anything from predetermined commands to complex inferences depending on the complexity of the interface.
In the long term, these conversational bots could streamline the multitude of apps that are routinely rolled out by major companies into one easy to use service.
VR & AR
Pokemon Go demonstrated how Augmented Reality could become mass market. It made millions of children go outside and explore the ‘real world’ – albeit still through a screen.
Suddenly the lampooned VR/AR trend that has never come close to matching the buzz it has generated for over two decades has arrived and is almost mainstream.
Giants such as Facebook, Samsung and Sony have launched a raft of headset devices in time for the Christmas season. These are now not only user-friendly but affordable for the consumer – in line with the long-established games consoles.
Media companies like the BBC are also committing to launching VR programming on Google’s Daydream app.
Although recognised as potentially significant and important, businesses are still unsure how to integrate the above technology trends into their daily operations. On the other hand, Cloud Computing is the trend that the majority of public and private businesses will be trialling for the first time in 2017.
Cloud Computing, in theory, will allow businesses to set up what is essentially a virtual office providing connective flexibility in terms of location and time. With the IoT on the rise, the number of web-enabled devices used in today's business environment means access to data has never been easier.
Migrating to a Cloud-based system could also improve IT maintenance costs, business continuity and efficiency.
Companies are expected to increase their spending on software and services - as opposed to hardware - as they all rush to buy technology via the cloud computing model. Here, tech is hosted in the vendor's data centre and delivered as a service over the Internet.
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