Looking to get a head start on your 2017 IT upgrade wishlist? Or looking into what tech trends you may need to start planning around in your own strategic thinking?
The progress of modern technology continues to accelerate, for better or worse, but that does come with an interesting side benefit: At this point it's entirely possible to predict with quite a lot of accuracy what technologies are going to be important in the next year or two. After all, some standards are planned out nearly a decade in advance of their actual implementation. True tech bombshells being dropped without fore-warning are few and far between these days.
So today, let's rub the old magic balls vigorously and see what tech trends for 2017 will be making waves.
1 - A Security Focus
By far, without a doubt, the biggest threat to IT right now is hackers and other malicious security threats. The damage they do continues to grow every year, and there is no reasonable hope of governmental efforts doing anything to stop them due to the international nature of cyber-crime. Each business has to protect itself.
Multiple companies have been working hard to make both virtual and physical security easier to implement than ever before. Also, look for increasing advances in blockchain technology. This idea for super-secure information transfers, pioneered for the "bitcoin" cyber-currency project, has begun turning a lot of heads in security and crypto circles.
2 - Collaboration Convergence
For years, online collaboration has generally required a hodgepodge of ad-hoc solutions - separate apps for email, IM, videoconferencing, file-editing, and more. This is obviously untenable, and we're now seeing a BIG push, mostly spearheaded by Microsoft and Google, to make all-in-one platforms that centralize all collaboration.
As businesses become increasingly distributed, utilizing more indirect-sales and outsource/freelance work models, such technology is vitally needed and could potentially reshape entire organizational paradigms. Start looking at one-stop-shop solutions if this is an issue for you; they're becoming quite robust.
3 - Network Virtualization
The old wired network with a central server paradigm is quickly falling by the wayside. Dismissed as unworkable a few years before, various virtualized and\or mesh-based networking protocols are now quickly becoming the new standard. Virtualized networks are easier to maintain, more automatically adaptive to individual hardware failure, and often bring significant security advantages.
If you aren't looking into virtualization already, the technology is now quite reliable and "ready for prime time."
4 - A.I. / Intelligent Apps
Have you talked to a computer today? If not, you may actually be in the minority. With all the major players absolutely pouring money into responsive AI systems, we can expect the utility of these programs to absolutely skyrocket. They're even getting integrated into all-in-one communications systems - particularly Google's new Allo suite - to act as group facilitators. Security is another hot application for smart apps.
Credit: Google Allo site
5 - VR and AR
It's a fascinating area of research, and one with nearly unlimited potential for business application as the technology matures.
Call this the wildcard. Everyone wants virtual reality and augmented reality -since the potential for everyday use is enormous- but so far technology is struggling to meet hopes and expectations. Even the lauded "year of VR" in 2016 turned out to be somewhat underwhelming, with several major product introductions which all turned out to be overpriced, underpowered, or both.
This is also one of the few areas where a surprise bombshell could happen, particularly if highly-secretive projects like Magic Leap actually pay off.
What do you think? What new products will rock the tech world in 2017?