Christmas New York Downtown

Technology Trends and Predictions 2017: How to Immerse

What a year 2016 has been! Everybody has been talking about Brexit and the US presidential election. In the technology world, everyone has been speculating about how Brexit and the election will impact us. But the emerging trends of recent years aren’t going anywhere. So, here it is–our final trends digest with predictions and concerns.

We’ve decided to loosen our ties a bit since we’ve all succumbed to the holiday spirit. And that makes this report slightly different. We’ll talk about technology trends and offer you the best ways to get involved in them and understand how these trends are impacting our lives.

Brexit. The referendum had a negative effect on IT spending in the UK. Those who decided to stay in the family–Germany, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Ireland–aim to benefit from the weakening of UK positions and increased IT spend.

Trump. Unlike Brexit, the US president-elect doesn’t seem to have made a short-term impact though midterm consequences have been discussed.

IT growth. Gartner says that IT spending will increase by 2.9 percent (from $3,387 to $3,486 billion). It is expected that IT services and software segments will demonstrate the most powerful growth. The former will grow by 4.8 percent in 2017 compared to 3.9 in 2016 and reach $943 billion. The latter will soar from $333 to $357 in 2017. Software segment will remain the fastest growing segment in IT with the 7.2 percent growth rate.

So, what are the global trends for 2017? And how to experience them? Let’s find out.

Westworld host

Credit: HBO

Rise of Artificial Intelligence

No, we’re not inventing Skynet next year or anytime soon. So, relax and lean back in your chair.  The AI will remain servile, friendly, and… well, dumb. The main difference is that the technology will be gradually moving out of the hype zone towards mass adoption. We’ll see smarter consumer electronics, virtual personal assistants, and smart advisors (that basically google stuff for you). The current challenge is to make conversing with these bots more personalized. Thus, industry forces will be concentrated on creating autonomous systems that can better learn, predict, and adapt. Bots will compete in traditional mobile ecosystem niches like customer support services, retail and ecommerce, financial services, healthcare and marketing.

Experts claim that real robots and autonomous vehicles are still overhyped and far from mass adoption. In 2017, the key consumers of AI-based solutions are expected to be marketing and HR departments. And according to Gartner, over the next 10 years, nearly all applications will employ some elements of virtual assistants.

So, if you are a traditional programmer, it’s about time to start learning data science. Being a programmer-Luddite is weird.

How to immerse

Re-watch Terminator 2. That’s exactly what’s not going to happen yet, so just enjoy.

Discuss Nietzsche with Siri. Even if you’ve never read Nietzsche, you know his works better than she does. Then order pizza. This is when Siri shines.

Buy Google Home or Amazon Echo. Experience the real power of modern AI for $130 and $40, respectively. If you buy both, you can make them talk to each other in an infinite loop, and be the first against the wall when robots take charge.

Mr Robot and Big Data

Credit: USA Network Media

We’ll keep dreaming about Big Data

Big Data is still analogous to teenage sex. Everyone talks about it (Big Data), nobody really knows how to do it. At least in 2017, the joke will remain funny. Although investment in Big Data is generally up, the number of companies that plan to invest fell from 31 to 25 percent in 2016, says Gartner. What’s going on? Companies still aren’t prioritizing Big Data initiatives over other IT challenges. Apparently, it’s hard yet to calculate tangible ROI upfront.

What if you eventually decided to embark on predictive analytics using Big Data? According to McKinsey, the major progress in capturing value relates to location-based data and retail data, 60 and 40 percent of value respectively. Manufacturing, public sector, and healthcare still trail behind. Companies managed to realize the third of even less of data potential in these spheres. Well, technology is fine; it’s we who oppose innovation. The highest barriers are skepticism, siloed data, and the lack of talent. (“Data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century.” Who said that?!)

How to immerse

Order AWS Snowmobile. You don’t know what Big Data is if you don’t measure it in exabytes. In case you have this gargantuan dataset (congrats, by the way), you can order a truck to move your data to the AWS cloud. And it’s only $0.005/GB per month.

Read how Big Data won the presidential election (it didn’t). The investigation from Das Magazin looks awfully like science fiction (here’s an English coverage). It tells us how gathering a lot of user data allowed for highly targeted election and the eventual Trump victory. The story is compelling, but far from being true. And yet it aptly anticipates what we might face in the future.

Explore your psychological traits in social media. Apply Magic Sauce is the engine that analyzes your personality by exploring your social media behavior. It can assess your intelligence, life satisfaction, political and even religious views. If everything matches, don’t panic: Google knows even more.

Black Mirror VR

Credit: Netflix

Get VR cheaper and don’t get sick

Are you this early adopter who pre-ordered Oculus Rift for $600? No? Then rejoice! The prices on VR headsets will be dropping by 15 percent every year starting from the next one. This will stimulate the market growth from $5.2 to $162 billion by 2020.  And hopefully the list of games to play will be longer than two scrolls on the Wikipedia page. But the main issue with VR remains unresolved. Our brains still don’t like to be tricked and protest with a headache, nausea, and a handful of other symptoms. Beware!

Following this year’s discouraging launch of VR, AR is knocking the door. Microsoft HoloLens SDK is already there to try for $3000. It’s evidently aiming at business use rather than entertainment. Architectural design, 3-D modeling, visual education, and engineering are the areas that Microsoft focuses on, besides Minecraft, of course. According to IDC, 30 percent of consumer-oriented Global 2000 companies will study the possibility of VR/AR usage in their marketing activities. The highest AR/VR demand will be in entertainment, retail and ecommerce, healthcare, real estate, and education. If you managed to keep sanity during the recent Pokemon Go plague, it’s just the beginning.

How to immerse

Buy a VR headset. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are delivering the most advanced VR experience so far. But the cost would be $600-800 for a headset, $1000+ for a monstrous PC, and VR sickness after two hours of play.

Watch Black Mirror, the Playtest episode. This morbid story will give you an idea where the VR technology may lead us in the future. After watching the episode, our medieval headsets won’t look that bad after all.

Visit the VOID  in NYC. If you’re tired of paintball but still want to get sweaty, visit the Void at Madame Tussauds NY. You’ll run, shoot, and scream, but this time wearing a VR headset. And it’s just $55.

Black Mirror Egg

Credit: Netflix

The Internet of Things (IoT) is drifting towards maturity

Your toaster will be DDoSing Twitter and Amazon. Hackers are actively using connected devices  for DDoS attacks by simply entering default factory passwords. Who would change the password on a toaster or a fridge, right? Well, the problem is going to get even bigger. The number of connected devices will soar from 17.68 billion in 2016 to 20.35 billion in 2017. So, Gartner predicts that IoT security will be the main challenge to overcome in the next year. Besides that, the IoT focus areas will be analytics, network management, real-time data processing, and building IoT operating systems. Guess what!  IDC says that nearly all IoT solutions will employ AI during the next several years. So, the Internet of Things could soon transform into the Internet of Intelligent (kinda) Things. In the enterprise sector, these armies of small robots will collaborate and gather a large amount of data to allow us humans better plan operations.

The domestic adoption of smart devices has also begun, and people have already experienced the impact. Quick tip: if your toilet isn't flushing, try resetting a router.

How to immerse

Back a smart trashcan on Kickstarter. QUBE is the first smart trashcan. Are you tired of just throwing trash in an analog can? Now your trashcan has a Wi-Fi connection, weight sensors, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, presence sensors, photoreflector sensors (whatever they might be), and a mobile app on top of it! Now you can check how your trash is doing 24/7.

Get your vehicle hijacked. As these guys proved, your vehicle can be hacked in the middle of a highway. A steering wheel, brakes, radio, and basically everything else can be operated remotely, while a driver is blocked from any control. Bicycling is healthier, by the way.

Play the Watch Dogs 2 game. The story unravels in the near future when we finally have every little thing connected. If you’re tired of being under constant hack fear, in Watch Dogs 2 you get to play as a hacker himself. It’s only $38 (on Steam).

Mr Robot Blockchain

Credit: USA Network Media

Blockchain and IoT combo

If you had suddenly returned to 2010, what would you do? Would you avoid drinking at that party, the memories of which haunt you with humiliation and shame? Would you file a résumé with a small startup called Uber? No, the smartest move would be to buy Bitcoins for $0.08 each! In the coming year, the distributed ledger and blockchain technology will finally spread beyond financial operations and be adopted in other spheres. For instance, the technology will likely address security issues with IoT. Perhaps now, your fridge won’t be used to hack the Federal Reserve.

Morgan Stanley predicts that in 2017 the blockchain applications will go for the mass consumer. The technology implementation will continue to attract investments, boost innovation, and startup activities. Unfortunately, the shift from retail to a broader institutional focus might significantly affect small blockchain providers, and a majority of them might not survive the next 3-5 years.

How to immerse

Break the system and buy physical Bitcoins. They really exist and have value! It’s not that you’ll be able to use these coins in a grocery store as regular cash, but they will definitely match the past and the future for vintage fans. You can also present them to your grandpa for Christmas.

Mine Bitcoins or die trying. Become a gold miner of the 21 century. Current mining techniques are a bit simpler than rocket science. You can purchase a $1000+ GPU or even get dedicated mining equipment for $1700+ and in 1 to 10 years you should mine one coin. (If you have free electricity, of course.)

Invest in other cryptocurrencies. If you missed the opportunity to get rich by purchasing Bitcoins, try ZCash or Ethereum. ZCash is $40 as of this writing and Ethereum is $8. Try and hope for the best.

So, here they are. What are your thoughts about things in the coming year? Do we have something to fear or to be excited about? Please share.

And Merry Christmas!