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Technology: 7 Trends for 2017

January 12, 2017.
What will 2017 look like on planet tech? No-one can make definite predictions and there are too many variables for us to actually know what’s in the pipeline, but a forecasting exercise at the beginning of the year is always fun and thought-provoking. Here are a few of our guesses, beyond the obvious Internet of Things and Big Data.

Augmented and virtual reality

Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Pokemon Go, Snapchat… AR and VR have come into their own. According to Jayson DeMers, a columnist for Forbes, the market is now ripe for this type of technology, making 2017 the year of virtual versions of “practically everything – and ample marketing opportunities to follow”.

Increased automation

For better or for worse, experts are predicting the demise of entire occupational sectors in the medium and long term. For these sectors, 2017 will be the beginning of the end, if not the end itself. Some sectors, for example the financial sector, will start feeling the pain: Citygroup, among others, forecasts that 10 years from now, 30% of banking-sector jobs will be automated.

The peak of mobility

What was fiction a few years ago is now fact: four out of five consumers now use their smartphone to shop. Mobile phones have become an integral part of our daily lives. Another trend that will come to fruition, according to journalist Murray Newlands, will be the shift to telework, thanks to new mobility tools. Working from home (or anywhere else in the world!) could soon become the norm for a growing number of workers fed up with commuting and the daily grind.

Machine learning

Machine learning will probably be THE buzzword for 2017. Thanks to recent improvements in artificial intelligence technologies, systems are now learning from the data they’re crunching. Machine learning is no longer the stuff of science fiction, thanks to breakthroughs in the last few years. To wit, the huge improvements in Google Translate’s automated translation service.

Growth of business platforms

Ordering anything and everything from a mobile app or Web site is the new normal: taxis with Uber, movies with Amazon or Apple Store, accomodations with Airbnb, original gifts with Etsy, and the list goes on. Business platforms will maintain healthy growth in 2017.

A Collaborative model for M2M

This is an interesting prediction from Gartner: “As intelligent things, such as drones, autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, permeate the environment, Gartner anticipates a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a collaborative intelligent things model.”

Virtual assistants

The concept itself is not new — Apple’s Siri has been around since 2011 — but the underlying technology has made huge strides. Aside from Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google have spawned an entire ecosystem of new products and services. Amazon Echo and Google Home assistants, as well as compatible technologies, will come standard with new homes. Personal assistants could also enhance business productivity, for example by sorting email and information by order of priority and importance. According to Grand View Research, the virtual assistant market will grow to US$12 billion by 2024.