What will happen in technology in the coming year? So rapid is the pace of technology change that predicting the future can be risky. However, at this time of year it has become custom for analysts of the global technology industry to release their point of view on consumer trends, technology innovation, investment and industry performance. In the ‘prediction game’, a 12 month prediction can actually be more difficult to make than a 5 or 10 year one – longer term predictions pick up on mega-trends (e.g. computing power, autonomous vehicles, AI) whereas short term predictions look to specific points in a technology cycle, consumer sentiment or shorter term technology advancements.
This post covers some of the most interesting reports, articles and blogs that are predicting the next 12 months in tech and highlights their key prognoses.
Deloitte TMT Predictions 2017
In its 16th year, Deloitte’s TMT predictions 2017 covers subjects that are topical in Technology, Telecommunications and Media but often revealing their implications in the coming year. Topics from previous years have included ‘Virtual Reality: the $1Bn niche’ (from 2016), ‘3D printing is a revolution: just not the revolution you think’ (from 2015), or ‘One became many: The Tablet market stratifies’ (from 2014). The report is led by Paul Lee and Duncan Stewart, co-authored by a global team and has a comprehensive reference list to support the analysis.
The recently launched TMT predictions have a tighter focus than previous years (10 predictions in 2017 vs 17 predictions in 2016). They have also been grouped together for the first time reflecting the convergence occurring in TMT. The overarching theme of the 10 predictions is the capability being brought to our daily lives by advances in computing power and machine intelligence. In the prediction ‘Biometric security reaches the billions’, Deloitte picks up on the trend that a growing portion of people now have devices with biometric security enabled (35% in Australian) but only 2 thirds of people with biometric security use it. This is predicted to increase globally in 2017 as 1 billion devices in the world will have biometric capability. Deloitte also predicts that in 2017 over 300 million smartphones (a fifth of all units sold) will have on-board neural-net capability. This is the computing power to perform offline machine learning activities. Smartphone innovation is trending beyond cameras and physical design to the ‘smarts’ that can be performed natively – predicting app usage, supporting health outcomes, facial and recognition of a person’s emotional state.
Fred Wilson VC – What is going to happen in 2017?
Fred Wilson, founder of Union-Square Ventures and of AVC blog writes a prediction post each year which outlines his thoughts about what will happen in technology. Last year he predicted VR to disappoint (it did); one of Facebook, Google, Amazon or Apple to falter (they didn’t, except Apple has worrying signs); and publishing inside Facebook would go badly for some high profile publishers (it hasn’t, but the ugly downside of Facebook as a publishing platform revealed itself in the form of a fake news crisis).
This year Fred Wilson’s predictions like Deloitte’s TMT single out machine intelligence as a driver of technological change including stating that:
“AI will be the new mobile. Investors will ask management what their “AI strategy” is before investing and will be wary of companies that don’t have one”
Fred is also predicting more IPOs and M&A activity in 2017 lead by Snapchat and possible changes to capital gains as a result of a Trump presidency and tax reform. Whilst Russian hacking of elections are topical, Fred predicts that ‘cyber warfare’ will be ‘front and centre’ in our lives a prediction that Deloitte corroborates in its prediction that DDOS attacks will reach terabyte level frequently in 2017.
Recode: Predicting the Top 10 tech developments for 2017
Tech blog Recode publishes its predictions every year just before CES. The predictions pick up on well-known tech topics but give their spin on the coming 12 months. Some of the more interesting predictions this year include: Non-gaming related applications of VR growing faster than gaming applications, Amazon Echo becoming the default gateway to the smart home, large scale IOT projects being down-scaled but small scale IOT project (e.g. smart home) booming; and mobile app installs declining as technology services increase (e.g. registering for skills on Alexa).
Reading the Recode predictions, a number of these efforts appear to be underway already in some shape or form, it will be interesting to see the extent to which they play out in local jurisdictions (e.g. Alexa entering homes in Australia with Amazon launch in 2017).
MIT Technology Review: 5 big predictions for Artificial Intelligence in 2017
AI (machine intelligence) is an over-arching mega-trend supporting a number of the predictions this year. MIT Technology Review puts forward a view of the trends in AI that will play out this year. From a technology standpoint – Positive reinforcement (an approach where computers figure out how to navigate a maze by trial and error and then associate the positive outcome—exiting the maze—with the actions that led up to it) will be applied to automated driving and industrial processes. Advances will also be seen in the application of generative adversarial networks that can create synthetic data based on learned and un-learned data sets.
From a consumer point of view – China is predicting to take on AI in a serious way in 2017 and the Review predicts a slight backlash to the hype around AI off the back of ‘fake’ AI start up Rocket AI last year and other imposters likely to appear in the near future.
Fintech Predictions for 2017
Fintech has been a ‘buzz topic’ in tech for a few years now. Shopping around for predictions in this area of tech brings up a few interesting posts. David Klein who has written a number of articles for Techcrunch outlined Fintech trends in 2016 (which he tells us he was 75% right about…not too bad). In his 2017 edition, Klein predicts a consolidation of lending Fintech, growth in asset management Fintech, more acquisition activity by incumbent financial institutions and blockchain having operational success in financial institutions.
A blog that covers all things Fintech – The Daily Fintech – also has predictions for 2017. These predictions are slightly more speculative than other prediction commentary for 2017 but it does pose food for thought – Will Bitcoin ‘move from dark net to clear net’ in 2017? Will Insurtech funding slow down? Will VC funding for Fintech in Asia outstrip all other VC funding in the West?… time will tell.
KPBC – Internet Trends (Mary Meeker Report)
Yes, this is not an early 2017 report…but it is an important annual report released in June which highlights the trends in the coming year. Originally intended to be ‘internet trends’ the Mary Meeker report has moved beyond internet connectivity to cover topics like mobile commerce, artificial intelligence and data privacy.
The June 2016 report had predictions including the rise of voice interfaces as a (20% of searches of internet content from voice – Siri, Alexa, Google) or messaging becoming the ‘home screen’ for many mobile users worldwide with the growth of services like WeChat and Messenger. Looking forward to the 2017 edition already!
“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”
This quote rings true when you consider many of these predictions for tech in 2017. Tablet sales will be down, cyber-attacks will be up, some phones are getting smarter, voice will begin to replace the handset in home, Bitcoin will stop being a ‘shady’ currency, M&A activity will increase but B rounds in VC will dry up… depending where you are in the world – these trends may already be part of your currently reality. Here is to 2017 and the technology change it holds for us all!