Technology is like time: it never stands still. The digital revolution has already significantly altered how we socialise, date, eat and entertain ourselves. And all this in a very short space of time. We no longer have to wait decades to see change; new technologies are introduced every year that alter and improve how we live.
And these advancements are not isolated to just our private lives. Innovation has made its way into the workplace and in the space of a generation the working environment has changed beyond recognition.
Apps that improve our productivity, sophisticated cyber-security controls and online-based office web chats are just a few examples of this progress.
Every new advancement raises the bar. Workers now want their apps to think and work alongside them, to manage their days and weeks, book meetings and automate the simple tasks – and innovations are introduced every day that look to remedy these needs.
With this in mind, below are the five technologies that will spearhead change in the coming year:
- The rise of cyber-space
Augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality will create a new, separate cyber-space – and 2017 will see a greater move towards this. The techniques have come so far as to make highly impressive results a reality already, and games engines and software platforms now often have default support for VR. The possibilities are endless and the first applications are already beginning to emerge.
At the moment these technologies are largely isolated to entertainment, but they will soon revolutionise business applications. Because why would we still go to meetings if we can meet on a virtual beach in virtual Hawaii with a live video feed around us?
Social media will also experience a transformation and will start to offer an immersive user experience. It is no coincidence that companies like Facebook are investing so heavily in virtual reality technology.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the masses
The rise of artificial intelligence is inevitable and we will start to see more and more applications of AI in the business world. Applications that fully understand human speech, intelligent biometric security software and hyper intelligent virtual assistants will all rise to the fore.
We have already witnessed its adoption across the business board. Banks use chatbot applications to answer customer enquiries and IBM's Watson for Oncology already advises doctors when making treatment choices. In 2017, AI will increasingly feature in every part of an organisation.
- The end of the app
Steve Jobs predicted that the individual app would disappear, and this will start to happen in 2017. It's about time too! Opening individual apps for every tiny function is backwards and with the ascent of virtual assistants, everything from hotel bookings to the fastest routes to our destinations will be handled for us from a central location.
Virtual assistants unite the functionality of all the varying apps within a device in a single user interface. Thanks to the economy of API's, it is mostly a matter of linking it all together and letting the systems communicate automatically.
Within five years, the science fiction film ‘Her' will probably be more reality and less fiction.
- Internet of Things
Next year we will see an explosive growth of the Internet of Things. While there are still obstacles, mainly the lack of a common safety standard, by 2020 there will be 20 to 50 billion devices connected to the IoT and 2017 will see its adoption escalate.
We are already witnessing its adoption in business. For example, Rolls Royce aircraft engines now continuously send real-time data to the manufacturer to predict potential problems and prevent disasters. This escalation in connectivity will only increase. In short, IoT is going to change everything, and companies need to be aware of its implications sooner rather than later.
The business revolution
This brave new world of technology is not confined to the consumer space. Innovations associated with the consumer sector are increasingly finding their way into the workplace, just as tablets, mobile phones and app stores did during the consumerisation of IT.
Companies therefore need to act now or risk being left helplessly standing on the sidelines by the end of next year. The same companies that ten years ago believed the cell phone would not affect their corporate IT, are now trying to cope with the BYOD revolution. The same will happen with companies that are failing to acknowledge the impact VR, AI, deep learning and IoT will have on their IT structures.
2016 has already laid the foundations for the emergence of industries such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. In 2017 we will see these industries come to fruition and break into the everyday. How radically these advancements will change our life in the next year however will only be unveiled by time itself.
Contributed by Bob Janssen, SVP of innovation, CTO & founder, RES