Monday, January 02, 2017

Predictions for 2017 – technology trends that will not live up to expectations

Every New Year brings in predictions of all kinds for every industry and then there are some brave ones who also publish a score card of their predictions – how many came true or missed the mark. I followed this trend randomly with results of predictions over a decade back and also attempted to predict some softer aspects of work life as I foresaw them with reasonable accuracy if I may add. For this year I decided to look take an antithetical view and take a shot at non-events, i.e. what may not happen or live up to hype !

Hot trends and technologies on everyone’s list: Artificial Intelligence or Intelligence Augmentation, Internet of Things (Industrial and Consumer), Autonomous Cars/transportation, Smart Cities/Homes, Chatbots, Blockchain, and Augmented/Virtual Reality. I am not counting the all-time favorites like Mobility, Consumer Engagement, Cybersecurity, and Cloud, all of which have become boring. Then there are other new emerging technologies which may be of interest to many; this list is based on my assessment.

Participating in a hackathon around AI, I realized that majority did not make the grade to be even classified as AI based solutions. Use of a technology does not differentiate the solution from other conventional alternatives like BI; the ability to leverage AI was demonstrated by just a handful leaving a lot to be desired. AI and for that matter IA shall not make a difference to majority of enterprise customers; there will be just a handful of outliers. The rest will struggle to attract attention of buyers who will learn quickly.

Internet of Things will find use cases in the industry but with limited commercial deployments; Industry 4.0 or automated sensors across the assembly line will create large volumes of data thus distracting the solution with focus on Big Data rather than the efficiency that can be created based on feedback loops and intelligent mining of the mass of data. On the consumer end, wearables will dominate the discussion with all others being good for experimental use, unable to create and sustain scale of any merit.

Any deployment or increase in autonomous vehicles will frustrate human drivers and thus see a pushback despite higher success rates. Theoretically in a world populated only by driverless vehicles, there are no accidents, efficient use of infrastructure, lower pollution, reduced traffic jams, all of them leading to lower production of cars which auto companies will resist tooth and nail. Customers will shy away from potential security threats in automated cars and the loss of thrill that driving real automobiles brings to the individual.

Cities are getting smarter with better management of traffic, power, water, sewage, and a lot more; the aspiration is to connect citizens in a digital fabric to monitor, influence, and empower, all at the same time. While the digital highways are getting ready, citizens around the world are wary of the loss of privacy and traceability of their digital footprints by governments and the dark world, both undesirable by many. Smarter homes appear to be harmless with easing of chores and tasks, the ill effects as yet unknown.

Chatbots are the new excitement for anyone engaging with customers in their attempt to reduce the cost of interaction. They are getting quite efficient with semantic analysis and learning capabilities that mimic human behavior; some chatbots got better of themselves with inflammatory messages and parliamentary language ! The ability to corrupt the chatbots is getting difficult, but these will be the new targets for increasing reputation risk. Another couple of years before they go mainstream and live to promise.

Big IT is getting behind Blockchain, announcements appear with increasing frequency; Blockchain is also getting faster with improved processing speeds. Newer alternative currencies have attempted to displace Bitcoin (now the de facto currency of the dark net) unsuccessfully, the interest is growing with Governments and that will be the trigger that will legalize the use of this technology. Until then it will continue to create higher valuations for startups who insert the word Blockchain in their technology stack and pitches to investors.

We are bored of reality that it needs augmentation, we want to experience virtual reality as the world we live in imposes restrictions on physical being and presence. The world of fantasy and alter identities resurfaces after almost a decade, now more immersive and experiential. Engaging consumers with VR sounds good, probably will work for millennials to assist buying, for the baby boomers and others in between, the uses will probably scare the prudes ! A while before enterprises get excited or find real use cases.

That’s all for now, add your lists to this one … comments, critique welcome !

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