Tech Predictions For 2017 Are All Over The Map

Classically speaking, almost every media organ ends a year with a look back on the past year’s events and achievements or looks forward to make predictions about what will be coming the following year and beyond. Not to mess with a classic, let’s do the latter.

IHS Markit Technology offers a complimentary whitepaper titled “7 in 2017” in which the research firm points out seven technology themes it believes will have the greatest impact in 2017. It surmises that innovations will be unfolding in every technology sector around the globe, changing the way consumers, businesses, and machines interact while initiating the next revolution in tech market growth.

For the white paper, the company summoned its technology experts to provide their predictions for the global technology market in 2017. In no set order, their predictions are as follows.

The top seven technology trends for 2017, listed in no particular order, are as follows:

1. Smart Manufacturing Accelerates With More Real-World Products

Companies use IoT to transform how products are made, how supply chains are managed and how customers can influence design. Example: look for automation/operator tech firms to release their own Platforms-as-a Service (PaaS) offering in the cloud as they compete to offer and own IoT projects for the industrial market.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Gets Serious

Already, personified AI assistants from a handful of companies (Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri) have access to billions of users via smartphones and other devices. However, even bigger, more profound changes are on their way as levels of human control are ceded directly to AI, such as in autonomous cars or robots.

3. The Rise of Virtual Worlds

After several years of hype, the operative reality behind virtual, augmented and mixed digital worlds is set to manifest more fully in 2017. The technology for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will advance significantly, as Facebook, Google and Microsoft consolidate their existing technologies into more exhaustive strategies. New versions of VR-capable game consoles featuring 4K video and high dynamic range (HDR) will also create the medium for high-quality VR content, even if availability will be limited for the next few years.

4. The “Meta Cloud” Era Arrives

Communication service providers plan to deliver a new wave of innovation, allowing for a single connection to the enterprise and acting as a gateway to multiple cloud service providers. IHS Markit refers to this as the meta cloud. In 2017, new offerings will become available from traditional Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors, coupled with expanded offers from the likes of IBM, Amazon and— most notably—Google via its Tensor chip. Watch for the development and deployment of more specialized silicon in the next two years.

5. A Revolution in New Device Formats

The development of the consumer drone is the closest example of a product type evolved over the past few years that has quickly gone mass market. 3D printers and pens are heading the same way. The next set of new devices may well materialize at the boundary of cheap 3D printing and inexpensive smartphone components to create completely novel device types and uses.

6. Solar Still the Largest Source of Renewable New Power

The next year, 2017, will see photovoltaic (PV) technology retaining—and confirming—its position as the planet’s largest source of new renewable power. More than a quarter of all PV capacity added worldwide in 2016 and 2017 will be in the form of solar panels. The growth of solar can be attributed to sharp drops in the cost of PV systems, combined with favorable country policies toward new renewable power.

7. Low-Power Technologies Extend Reach to Inaccessible IoT Devices

The first batch of low-power, wide-area networks (LPWAN) will go live around the world in 2017 as an alternative to short-range wireless standards such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. LPWAN technologies will connect hard-to-reach, IoT devices more efficiently and at a lower cost, dealing with challenges stemming from range limitation to poor signal strength. As a result, opportunities will open up for telecom providers to support low-bit-rate applications.

Most of these predictions seem to be on target, based on emerging technologies over 2016. Interestingly, security technologies did not make it into the list. However, as stated from the start, innovations are unfolding in every technology sector around the globe and the whitepaper only lists the top seven. Maybe they should’ve stayed classic and made it the Top 10 Technology Themes. Or they could’ve gone Spinal Tap and said “these predictions go to eleven.” ~MD

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