As we are approaching the end of 2016, it’s a good idea to look out for the top technology trends that will be shaping 2017’s agenda. Due to the nature of our blog, we focus on IT related technologies that hold the promise to revolutionize the various business sectors in the coming years. As we are witnessing a surge of technological innovation, which is digitizing both consumer and industrial services, the list of tending technologies could be endless. Nevertheless, here is our top 10:
#1 Internet-of-Everything: Empowering a shift from ‘the best device’ to ‘the optimal service’
During the last couple of years we have witnessed a proliferation of Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies, as well as their convergence with cloud computing and BigData analytics platforms. Clouds provide the means for integrating multiple IoT streams in a scalable fashion and in an interoperable way. BigData analytics are then able to process these streams in order to drive monitoring and/or control decisions. With these technologies at hand, the trend is to leverage multiple data streams and services in order to assemble innovative optimized services for end-users. As part of this trend, new business models will be supported, notably models that compose and offer novel integrated services, rather than limiting IoT’s value proposition at the device level. We will increasingly experience a shift from the “best IoT device” to “optimal IoT services” combining data and services from numerous devices.
#2 The Time of Artificial Intelligence: Evolution and expanded adoption of AI and Smart Things
2016 has been a milestone year in the evolution of AI, as Google’s Alpha Go AI engine has managed to beat Lee Sedol, one of the world’s best Go players. The milestone lies in the techniques and algorithms used, which were much closer to the way the human brain works and significantly different from conventional AI methods that perform exhaustive evaluation of possible options. It’s now time that such AI advances are deployed in real-life applications, such as self-driving cars, games, smart cities and other intelligent applications. As part of the AI trend, we will see an expanded integration of AI components in IT systems at both the device and the system levels. At the level of individual devices and things, AI will empower smart robots, drones and autonomous cars, which will be deployed in a variety of applications including security, safety, defense, healthcare, transport and ambient assisted living. Likewise machine learning and deep learning techniques will be increasingly integrated in IT systems in order to enhance their intelligence and performance. AI systems and devices will be deployed across different locations, including smart homes, smart offices, smart cities, future factories and more.
#3 Blockchain: The Digital Trust mechanism
The Bitcoin distributed ledger infrastructure (i.e. Blockchain) is nowadays scalable and technically validated. The scalability and reliability of this infrastructure makes it appropriate for implementing digital trust mechanisms at enterprise scale. In an earlier post we have already outlined what is needed for a successful enterprise implementation of the Blockchain. Blockchain implementation trends will be therefore reinforced and increasingly deployed in an effort to ensure institutional trust across different IT systems and devices. Moreover, blockchain will serve as a basis for implementing disruptive models of decentralized (yet trustful) communications between machines, people and things.
#4 A Software-Defined World: Networks and Data Centers
The flexibility and configurability of networking and cloud infrastructures will continue to evolve in the coming years. The trend of software-defined networks and software-defined data centers will be expanded in order to enable network operators and services providers to rapidly (re)configure their infrastructures in-line with application contexts and end-user needs. We are moving to the era of “Software-Defined Everything” that will deliver unprecedented levels of agility for telco and cloud infrastructure companies.
#5 Connected Car and Smart City Convergence
We are heading to the era of the self-driving car. As part of this evolution, two complementary technology trends will be reinforced: Connected Cars and Smart Cities. More vendors are, and will be, releasing connected cars features and capabilities, notably features associated with the V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) functionalities. V2X functionalities such as V2H (Vehicle-to-Home) and V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) will facilitate the applications convergence in a smart city context, including convergence of transport and energy applications. In addition to an expanded number of V2X deployments, more car vendors and energy providers will start providing commercial offerings in these areas as well to benefit from this trend.
#6 Industry 4.0: From infancy to gradual maturity
Manufacturers are increasing acknowledging the need to collect, process and exploit digital data as part of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS). We will therefore be witnessing an expansion of CPS systems in manufacturing, along with a related proliferation of Industrial Internet-of-Things deployments. It’s time that these deployments move from pilot production lines and testbeds to the actual production. This will not only lead to an expanded set of deployments in factory automation, maintenance activities, production scheduling, but also to fully connected and highly responsive manufacturing chains involving multiple interacting parties and their CPS systems.
#7 Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are moving to the Enterprise
In earlier years Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) were seen nearly as science fiction concepts for futuristic applications. That’s no longer the case: In coming years we will see VR and AR deployments in several applications such as training and immersive interactions across a variety of sectors beyond entertainment e.g., in smart cities, manufacturing and ambient assisted living. These come to complement (rather than to replace) other interaction modalities, while gradually covering all human senses.
#8 Smart Applications Integration and Interoperability: The next step in Urban Smartness
It’s clear that cities go smart: Smart energy, smart urban mobility, smart water management, smart healthcare are only a few of the smart applications that are already deployed in cities. A rising trend involves the integration of these projects in a way that provides multiplicative benefits to sustainability and quality-of-life improvements, while permitting the cities to track city wide goals rather than individual projects. The next years will lead to more integrated projects, which are already propelled by evolutions in interoperability-related standards at multiple levels (e.g., oneM2M, Hypercat, 5G networking).
#9 3D Printing – Additive Manufacturing
We are already amazed at what 3D printers can do. 3D printing and additive manufacturing trends will be expanded and fully integrated in manufacturing processes in order to enable the development of complex products (or their parts) at less time and at lower cost. This expansion will involve the ability of selecting among a broader set of materials, as well as the ability to produce a larger set of parts, including parts for demanding applications. As a result, more manufacturers will consider the integration of 3D printing as part of their processes, especially in cases of modular and personalized products.
#10 Expanding the Efficiency of Continuous Integration with DevOps
Despite many advances in software engineering and software development methodologies, there is always room to improve software production in terms of quality, time and cost efficiency. DevOps has recently opened new paths in this direction, through integrating development and operations as part of agile software engineering and continuous delivery cycle. Expect to see a larger number of companies adopting DevOps as their primary strategy for software delivery.
These trends are in most cases not isolated from each other. Rather one reinforces the other. For example, the rise of additive manufacturing is propelled by Industry 4.0 technologies, which facilitate the integration of new manufacturing technologies as part of factory automation. Likewise urban smartness and interoperability are among the key enablers of advanced connected cars applications in smart cities. This helps perceive the trends and how the overall technology puzzle is assembled. Several technology evolutions and revolutions are happening in our time and we will be here to let you know more about them.