6 Technology Trends to Watch in 2017
The start of the new year is a time to look back on the setbacks and successes of the recent past and consider the possibilities of the year to come.
And perhaps no one does this better than technologists – those optimists-at-heart who tend to keep one eye firmly focused on the future, convinced that a better, faster, more-effective approach is always out there, and that technology can make it happen.
Here, CSC CTO Dan Hushon offers his six predictions for the year ahead. Though the IT trends he plans to watch in 2017 range from the rise of intelligent machines to the growth of a Silicon Valley rival, one theme runs throughout: Business as we know it is about to get a lot more interesting.
Reconfiguring the Enterprise for the 21st Century
If your company has already adopted 21st century technologies – cloud, software-defined networks, big data analytics, etc. – congratulations! Now comes the hard work of rethinking how your enterprise operates in this new era with these new tools.
2017 will be about embracing agile principles that allow for shifting priorities; empowering employees with “small-team” mentalities that drive innovation; and using data to put the right information at the right time in front of every single employee. In this atmosphere, employees encounter less red tape, as leaders trade innovation-stifling bureaucracy for effective guardrails.
“In other words, everything has to change,” Hushon says.
And that reconfiguration starts at the top.
Executives will need to be substantially more digitally savvy to lead their organizations through this transformation. “We are going to see a set of executives who have to be trained differently to actually make use of, not just information, but knowledge…. [And] we're going to see a change in the way enterprises actually use that information deep in the business,” Hushon says.
Rise of the Intelligent Machines
Something amazing happened in 2016 that may have slipped through your Twitter feed: Artificial intelligence beat a human expert at the highly complex, intuition-based game Go.
The event signaled growing awareness that technology is becoming better at “people tasks” than actual people. In many cases, machines can outthink us, integrate broad information sets, find correlations and predict best possible outcomes.
What does this mean for business? Meet your new employees!
In 2017, intelligent machines will be coming to the workplace – in the boardroom, in the physician’s office, in the factory and beyond. We’ll be looking to these information purveyors to improve outcomes, innovation and enterprise productivity – and the workplace will be forever changed by their rise.
“We’re seeing it in every single segment of our economy,” Hushon says.
Maturing of IoT and the Industrial Internet
Bold prediction: Every manufacturer and service firm will have an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy by the end of 2017. Why? Because enterprises are starting to realize how valuable IoT data is to supply chains and service capabilities, customer experience, partner relationships and more.
In 2017, enterprises will be looking to invest in platforms that make it easier to incorporate IoT in the overall business strategy, Hushon says. When paired with sensor-based devices, 5G networking and the Industrial Internet (the tools that bring it all together), IoT data can be used to improve the business and productivity.
“IoT and sensor-based devices are going to be everywhere in our economy with the emergence of 5G networking and improved networking technologies. It’s going to add a massive amount of data on the front end, which can be fed back into our machine-learning algorithms. That data is going to improve machine learning – and that, in turn, will improve business productivity by probably the biggest exponential increase we've seen since the 1990s,” Hushon says.
That’s certainly worth the investment.
Emergence of Sinosphere as an Innovation Leader
Those who orbit Silicon Valley tend to discount the innovation happening pretty much everywhere else. But that may change in 2017 as the Sinosphere – made up of East Asian countries Vietnam, China, Japan and South Korea – emerges as a possible competitor to the Silicon Valley crowd.
“I think we're right on the cusp of seeing a massive amount of both business information and technical innovation coming out of the Sinosphere,” Hushon says.
The region invests heavily in mathematics, science and computer education. It’s also experiencing a surge in innovation due to a growing cultural acceptance of risk. Further propelled by a large, diverse market, the Silk Road may play a more prominent role in markets closer to the Silicon galaxy in the year ahead.
Increased Adoption and Simplification of Cloud Platforms
“Business is cloud bound” is so last year. What’s “in” for 2017 is increasing the pace and extent of cloud adoption while making it easier for the enterprise to control it.
In talking to business leaders, Hushon hears many describe an 80/20 plan for the years ahead: They expect to migrate 80% of operations to the cloud by 2020.
“What a remarkable shift from just a couple of years ago when we had CIOs saying, ‘I'm not even thinking about the cloud. It's insecure. My people don't know how to use it,’” Hushon says. “What we're really talking about here is that cloud adoption's going to increase tenfold.”
The massive growth in cloud use may increase competition and consolidation among providers, forcing them to distinguish themselves through simplicity, automation and functions of agility, analytics and cognition computing. The cloud of 2017 — and beyond — will be easier, safer and cheaper for the enterprise as a result.
We are also likely to see more “cloud diversity,” in which a business uses one cloud provider to host one part of the business and another, potentially competing cloud provider to host a different aspect.
“I can begin to actually use cloud diversity to provide the availability that my business or regulators require,” he says.
Next Wave of Digital Interface: Virtual and Augmented Reality
Who didn’t catch Pokemon Go fever in 2016? The augmented reality game thrilled players and brought to life the great potential of virtual and augmented reality. 2017 will be the year these game-changing technologies arrive in the workplace, says Hushon.
Expect VR/AR pilot projects to turn into established tools that can aid workers in fields as diverse as travel and transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, public sector, retail, training and more.
Outcomes improve, says Hushon, if workers “ask a better question, if they look at something they might not otherwise have looked at.” And that becomes possible with the overlay of information provided by AR and the new perspectives offered by VR.
Hushon expects these tools to advance aggressively in the months to come. Get your devices ready!
While these trends promise to bring big changes to enterprise in the year ahead, Hushon cautions businesses against a watch-and-wait approach. “These changes are so substantial that you have to jump in with both feet if you have a chance at competing,” he says. “If you decide that you only want to put a little toe in, you’re going to be too far behind by the time you realize you need to catch up.”
With that, let’s jump – with both feet – in to a successful, innovative 2017.
Grading 2016: How did CTO Dan Hushon’s 2016 predictions weather the test of time?
Let’s take a look!
✅ Contextual data drives value
No question, 2016 was the year of contextualized information. We saw it guiding presidential elections, enterprise decisions and beyond. And the trend is only ramping up.
✅ Increase in cyberattacks
The threat landscape certainly expanded in 2016, and cybercriminals took full advantage of it with major attacks that may have even played a role in the U.S. presidential election. Business is scrambling to catch up.
✅ API economy is strong
Couldn’t be stronger. “We’ve seen companies reinvent themselves under their APIs,” Hushon says.
✅ CIOs partner to bring information into context
IT continues to be an integral partner of the business — not an adjunct but core to the business strategy.
✅ Enterprise platform players converge
2016 saw the historic merger of Dell and EMC. The consolidation answered market demand for more standardized, agile platform solutions. At CSC, we call this approach Modern Platform and see it being a promising area in 2017, as well.
DAN HUSHON is chief technology officer at CSC. Connect with Dan on Twitter @DanHushon
Thanks to CSC’s Leading Edge Forum, ResearchNetwork and CTO Office for input.