Tech trends for 2017: more AI, machine intelligence, connected devices and collaboration

2016-12-30 - By 

The end of year or beginning of year is always a time when we see many predictions and forecasts for the year ahead. We often publish a selection of these to show how tech-based innovation and economic development will be impacted by the major trends.

A number of trends reports and articles have bene published – ranging from investment houses, to research firms, and even innovation agencies. In this article we present headlines and highlights of some of these trends – from Gartner, GP Bullhound, Nesta and Ovum.

Artificial intelligence will have the greatest impact

GP Bullhound released its 52-page research report, Technology Predictions 2017, which says artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to have the greatest impact on the global technology sector. It will experience widespread consumer adoption, particularly as virtual personal assistants such as Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa grow in popularity as well as automation of repetitive data-driven tasks within enterprises.

Online streaming and e-sports are also significant market opportunities in 2017 and there will be a marked growth in the development of content for VR/AR platforms. Meanwhile, automated vehicles and fintech will pose longer-term growth prospects for investors.

The report also examines the growth of Europe’s unicorn companies. It highlights the potential for several firms to reach a $10 billion valuation and become ‘decacorns’, including BlaBlaCar, Farfetch, and HelloFresh.

Alec Dafferner, partner, GP Bullhound, commented, “The technology sector has faced up to significant challenges in 2016, from political instability through to greater scrutiny of unicorns. This resilience and the continued growth of the industry demonstrate that there remain vast opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs.”

Big data and machine learning will be disruptors

Advisory firm Ovum says big data continues to be the fastest-growing segment of the information management software market. It estimates the big data market will grow from $1.7bn in 2016 to $9.4bn by 2020, comprising 10 percent of the overall market for information management tooling. Its 2017 Trends to Watch: Big Data report highlights that while the breakout use case for big data in 2017 will be streaming, machine learning will be the factor that disrupts the landscape the most.

Key 2017 trends:

  • Machine learning will be the biggest disruptor for big data analytics in 2017.
  • Making data science a team sport will become a top priority.
  • IoT use cases will push real-time streaming analytics to the front burner.
  • The cloud will sharpen Hadoop-Spark ‘co-opetition’.
  • Security and data preparation will drive data lake governance.

Intelligence, digital and mesh

In October, Gartner issued its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017, and recently outlined the key themes – intelligent, digital, and mesh – in a webinar.  It said that autonomous cars and drone transport will have growing importance in the year ahead, alongside VR and AR.

“It’s not about just the IoT, wearables, mobile devices, or PCs. It’s about all of that together,” said Cearley, according to hiddenwires magazine. “We need to put the person at the canter. Ask yourself what devices and service capabilities do they have available to them,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner fellow, on how ‘intelligence everywhere’ will put the consumer in charge.

“We need to then look at how you can deliver capabilities across multiple devices to deliver value. We want systems that shift from people adapting to technology to having technology and applications adapt to people.  Instead of using forms or screens, I tell the chatbot what I want to do. It’s up to the intelligence built into that system to figure out how to execute that.”

Gartner’s view is that the following will be the key trends for 2017:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: systems that learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously.
  • Intelligent apps: using AI, there will be three areas of focus — advanced analytics, AI-powered and increasingly autonomous business processes and AI-powered immersive, conversational and continuous interfaces.
  • Intelligent things, as they evolve, will shift from stand-alone IoT devices to a collaborative model in which intelligent things communicate with one another and act in concert to accomplish tasks.
  • Virtual and augmented reality: VR can be used for training scenarios and remote experiences. AR will enable businesses to overlay graphics onto real-world objects, such as hidden wires on the image of a wall.
  • Digital twins of physical assets combined with digital representations of facilities and environments as well as people, businesses and processes will enable an increasingly detailed digital representation of the real world for simulation, analysis and control.
  • Blockchain and distributed-ledger concepts are gaining traction because they hold the promise of transforming industry operating models in industries such as music distribution, identify verification and title registry.
  • Conversational systems will shift from a model where people adapt to computers to one where the computer ‘hears’ and adapts to a person’s desired outcome.
  • Mesh and app service architecture is a multichannel solution architecture that leverages cloud and serverless computing, containers and microservices as well as APIs (application programming interfaces) and events to deliver modular, flexible and dynamic solutions.
  • Digital technology platforms: every organization will have some mix of five digital technology platforms: Information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the internet of things and business ecosystems.
  • Adaptive security architecture: multilayered security and use of user and entity behavior analytics will become a requirement for virtually every enterprise.

The real-world vision of these tech trends

UK innovation agency Nesta also offers a vision for the year ahead, a mix of the plausible and the more aspirational, based on real-world examples of areas that will be impacted by these tech trends:

  • Computer says no: the backlash: the next big technological controversy will be about algorithms and machine learning, which increasingly make decisions that affect our daily lives; in the coming year, the backlash against algorithmic decisions will begin in earnest, with technologists being forced to confront the effects of aspects like fake news, or other events caused directly or indirectly by the results of these algorithms.
  • The Splinternet: 2016’s seismic political events and the growth of domestic and geopolitical tensions, means governments will become wary of the internet’s influence, and countries around the world could pull the plug on the open, global internet.
  • A new artistic approach to virtual reality: as artists blur the boundaries between real and virtual, the way we create and consume art will be transformed.
  • Blockchain powers a personal data revolution: there is growing unease at the way many companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google require or encourage users to give up significant control of their personal information; 2017 will be the year when the blockchain-based hardware, software and business models that offer a viable alternative reach maturity, ensuring that it is not just companies but individuals who can get real value from their personal data.
  • Next generation social movements for health: we’ll see more people uniting to fight for better health and care, enabled by digital technology, and potentially leading to stronger engagement with the system; technology will also help new social movements to easily share skills, advice and ideas, building on models like Crohnology where people with Crohn’s disease can connect around the world to develop evidence bases and take charge of their own health.
  • Vegetarian food gets bloodthirsty: the past few years have seen growing demand for plant-based food to mimic meat; the rising cost of meat production (expected to hit $5.2 billion by 2020) will drive kitchens and laboratories around the world to create a new wave of ‘plant butchers, who develop vegan-friendly meat substitutes that would fool even the most hardened carnivore.
  • Lifelong learners: adult education will move from the bottom to the top of the policy agenda, driven by the winds of automation eliminating many jobs from manufacturing to services and the professions; adult skills will be the keyword.
  • Classroom conundrums, tackled together: there will be a future-focused rethink of mainstream education, with collaborative problem solving skills leading the charge, in order to develop skills beyond just coding – such as creativity, dexterity and social intelligence, and the ability to solve non-routine problems.
  • The rise of the armchair volunteer: volunteering from home will become just like working from home, and we’ll even start ‘donating’ some of our everyday data to citizen science to improve society as well; an example of this trend was when British Red Cross volunteers created maps of the Ebola crisis in remote locations from home.

In summary

It’s clear that there is an expectation that the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms will proliferate in 2017 across multiple business, social and government spheres. This will be supported with advanced tools and capabilities like virtual reality and augmented reality. Together, there will be more networks of connected devices, hardware, and data sets to enable collaborative efforts in areas ranging from health to education and charity. The Nesta report also suggests that there could be a reality check, with a possible backlash against the open internet and the widespread use of personal data.

Original article here.

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