2016 certainly was the year of hype. Anything that could be pumped was. The number of Unicorn companies went through the ceiling, and there were some tectonic shifts in the corporate technology world. Cloud finally became the usual while traditional IT departments and workers began to see their roles under increasing threat. So, what of 2017?
This will be a long post; we have a lot of topics to cover.
So on with the show in no order. As always, I am very interested in what you think about this as well. I have a relatively unique perspective with my work and my location; I live in New Zealand. They say to find New Zealand you need to travel to the bottom of the world then turn left. It’s true; we are on the edge of the planet.
Massive technology companies will continue to decline
At least in some cases. The days of the megacorp appear to be in question. If you want examples of this, then check out IBM, HP, and most recently Apple.
Why? Because smaller companies can manoeuvre much faster than larger ones and don’t have a leftover investment in capital that they are trying to recover, rather than writing off. Watch for big business eating smaller ones as the year progresses; it’s the only way some of them are going to get new and competitive products.
My Pick: Apple revenue slumps significantly during the year as they reach market saturation and have no new-fangled devices to pitch. HP continues to struggle and IBM breaks up.
We’ll get more confused about AI
What is being hyped as AI is far more akin to Learning Systems, but Learning Systems doesn’t have the same ring to it is AI.
Learning systems are systems that can to some degree programme and develop themselves without human intervention. The Facebook News Feed is an example of this. It learns as you scroll, so, for instance, if you settle and read a friend’s post (rather than scrolling past it), it then learns you like that and gives you more of the same.
Artificial Intelligence is when a machine achieves the same level as human intelligence or at least looks like it. Made most famous by the Turing Test. We haven’t reached this yet.
Super Intelligence is when an entity is massively more intelligent that a human. Potentially thousands of times more capable. It’s theoretical and scary.
My Pick: We’ll see unintended consequences of letting loose learning systems on large data sets; like this screw up in Australia. Like they say; to err is human, to really screw up requires a computer.
The Revenge of Clippy – Virtual Assistants
Who remembers Clippy? The most annoying virtual assistant known to humanity aside from perhaps Dr Sbaitso. Unfortunately, we haven’t come too much further, we’ve just connected Dr Sbaitso to the Internet.
Allo, Cortana, and Siri all fall into this category and because it is massively hyped there are dozens of other outliers. Your life is going to be filled with virtual assistants by the end of the year, no doubt all talking to each other and organising your calendar while you are on a beach somewhere.
Sadly, those assistants are also going to be stealing all your stuff and selling it to the mega-corps so they can sell you more stuff.
You’ll see more chatbots as well, things that are designed to help you online as opposed to actual humans. This will be great for companies like Vodafone who appear to have got rid of their entire service crews.
My Pick: Despite the immense hype we’ll not see anything particularly useful in this area. Hilariously, as Virtual Assistants start to communicate with each other, we’ll see some unintended consequences.
A Unicorn is defined as a technology company that has a valuation of more than $1B USD. They are magical in as much as they don’t appear to be worth that much, but are. Uber is worth a staggering $68B and yet owns absolutely nothing.
There are 184 Unicorns in the wild to date with a total combined value of $653B USD. They are expected to grow this year fuelling speculation that a tech-bubble is well under way. Time will tell, those with a high-risk appetite could consider shorting some of those stocks.
My Pick: The hype wave is strong with the market. This year will see more Unicorns appear with a few vanishing. Will Uber survive the year? I think so, however at a much-reduced valuation, which may start a minor stampede across the Unicorn flock.
SaaS continues to explode while infrastructure burns
Companies are now migrating their legacy systems straight from on-premise to SaaS. Why bother with the intermediate step via IaaS and PaaS? It’s unknown how many SaaS products there are in the world right now with some estimates in the tens of thousands and Gartner saying the market will be worth $50B USD by 2018.
IaaS and PaaS will start to decline except for very bespoke applications while SaaS will continue to take over our business services. Note I said business services, not IT Services, IT is on its way out.
My Pick: IaaS providers move more to providing PaaS to create natural environments for new SaaS products (think Amazon.) Traditional IT Groups continue to be sidelined by businesses side-stepping them to procure their services.
Security becomes (more) automated
Right now, security continues to be a nightmare because of the complexity of services and architectures. Worse, humans can’t think and react fast enough to increasingly automated attack tools.
This will force the automation of security as the years go by to keep ahead of the various attack vectors. Automated attack and defence systems will engage in a war of automated attrition over time.
My Pick: The security industry will rejig itself to increase speed and coverage. Security Automation Unicorns will appear.
Death of the password
Running late now, Google’s Project Abacus seeks to get rid of passwords. Passwords are the bane of security.
Project Abacus wants to use a series of markers such as your retina, fingerprints, voice, typing style, location, how you walk, and other spooky insights to determine that you are who you say you are.
My Pick: OK, I’m calling it, the first zero password authentication systems will be live by the end of 2017, much to the dismay of privacy Luddites.
The Internet of Things tanks
After much hype, the IoT isn’t delivering a whole lot to anybody except in some very niche areas. Known now colloquially as the “Internet of Sh!t” the entire idea of connecting billions of simple devices with no security to the Internet is causing consternation.
It was a stupid name, to begin with, and we can only see a couple of things happening. One, it could be rebranded, or two, it could just vanish, the language that is. After all, we don’t have “electricity powered toasters”, so why would we have “internet powered smoke alarms”?
My Pick: Brand names (NEST for example) kill the IoT tag and start selling “home appliance” type products instead. “Smart Homes” die a death.
Just when you thought you’d got your head around the last lot of hype here comes more. Watch out for; Intelligent Apps, Smart Beacons, Humanised Data, As a Service (XaaS is baaaaaack), Advanced Collaboration, Fog Computing (based on the Internet of Sh!t), and more!
My Pick: Cynicism sets in as we face a new wave of rebadged material that we’ve had for the last few years in a marketing effort to sell some weak technology. Fog Computing equals Mesh Computing for example, which has been around for nearly a decade.
The New Zealand Election
With technology now outranking dairy and tourism individually regarding GDP contribution (in New Zealand), expect to see some substantive policy introduced by political parties vying for New Zealander’s vote this year.
All parties are well down the path of developing what they think is going to boost the industry and chase the tens of thousands of votes that the technology community represents.
Expect changes to Common Capabilities delivered via the GCIO and All of Government services that are seen to be in need of a decent shake up.
My Pick: National will finally come out with an actual IT Policy rather than just “let’s do UFB.” The Greens will have the best IT Policy, followed by ACT, and then Labour. The GCIO will see a significant change post-election including it being moved out of DIA and a new GCIO in the chair.
Still not there with flying, or automated, cars
Elon Musk and Tesla, Uber, Google, Ford, everyman and his four-wheeled carriage is on the automated car bandwagon. With the major cities now trialling fully-automated vehicles the end of the human driver is certainly nigh, but perhaps not this year.
See, we’re still scared of the robots chauffeuring us around and hopelessly backwards in our legislation globally that allows our robotic overlord’s full control of a tonne and half of metal.
My Pick: We’ll take to driverless cars about the same time as we take to pilot-less aircraft. Maybe a bit sooner. Legislation and Luddites will continue to throw stones around supported by industries that stand to tank when automated cars take over. Electric cars will continue to be a bit shit.
Trump’s Effect on the Technology Industry
Trump has about as much understanding of technology as the average goat does in quantum mechanics. In this case, though, a little knowledge is dangerous (same with goats), and we’ll see Trump attempting to strong arm the technology megacorps into giving over all their data, building in back doors, smashing encryption, and returning factories to the continental U.S.
My Pick: Large tech companies will start to move to friendly parts of Europe, Australia, potentially New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and frankly anywhere that a) they can get a tax break and b) aren’t impacted by the Donald. There will be more murmuring of seceding from the U.S. on a grand scale, but it will come to nothing.
There will be more of it. As we march on with World War III we can expect increased monitoring and loss of privacy. In fact, as Facebook marches on we will willingly continue to give away all our private information, and that of our family and friends, in return for understanding “What kind of Spirit Animal” we are and “Which Star Wars Character” we most closely align too.
My Pick: A raft of legislation changes in the Western world will come into effect to counter encryption and other personal security services. Learning systems will continue to be set loose on collected big data to catch “terrorists.” This won’t work.
It’ll get bigger, messier, and even more tricky to manage. Expect a lot of hype in this area as the year progresses.
My Pick: Until businesses figure out what questions they need to be answered by asking Big Data they data will just continue to be stored in ever increasing piles. Throwing a learning system at a stack of data without any questions will result in strange and unexpected results.
The IT Department
With the fact that most IT decisions are now made outside of the IT department IT Groups with an older business model will continue to be sidelined. Shadow IT has become Business As Usual IT and anyone fighting that will simply see a decline faster. This is pure Systems Thinking; the business has taken control of the supply of IT services, and the control IT had is gone.
My Pick: Gartner says the Service Broker model will finally “click” around 2018 and provides a broad IT business model to re-align with business reality. Watch for more on that this year. Also, watch Outsourcing struggle and start to decline as fixed, perceived inflexible, and SaaS will replace expensive IT services.
Technology Education and Training
Universities, other tertiary institutions, and schools, in general, are struggling to provide relevant education in the technology area. This is largely driven by the fact that education institutes just can’t adapt their curriculum fast enough to keep in line with rapid changes in the industry.
My Pick: Don’t expect anything to change here. Look for independent groups (think Dev Academy) stepping into the breach to try and resolve the issue. Expect dinosaur educators to attack the new independent groups rather than work with them.
As the world burns, we settle into another year of World War III, the U.S. Elections return us toward the 1950’s; greed fails, and Capitalism wavers, Socially Responsible companies will increase. People want more purpose than turning up to a desk, sitting there for eight hours in a meaningless role, and saving money so they can retire.
My Pick: Truly Socially Responsible companies will attract high-calibre participants, be more competitive, and more productive. Watch for cynical attempts by dinosaur companies to milk the movement.
Robots Stole my Job – Automation
There is plenty of media attention on this now because it sells papers. Robots will take all our jobs, large technology companies will take all our money, and we’ll be left at home on a universal basic income.
For the IT profession, the first statement is entirely true. The industry is automating jobs rapidly, and it’s important to understand. The latest on the list is managed services being fully automated potentially putting most ITIL roles under pressure.
My Pick: The technology deficit in most companies is still quite high. It’s a year of planning for automation rather than implementing it for the majority of organisations.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality will take great leaps and bounds this year in two areas; gaming & pornography. The gear is still quite expensive putting it out of the reach of most of the world. Augmented Reality is in some ways harder to produce at a commercial level than virtual reality.
My Pick: Augmented reality will struggle with clunky interfaces and uncool devices. It’s one of the enduring rules of technology; no matter how impressive the technology is, if it makes you look like a dick (think the Segway or Google Glass), no one is going to use it. VR will explode into the gaming, pornography, and movie arenas.
Breaking the Rules
Companies and organisations that break the rules (not the law) are far more competitive, can move faster to market, pivot quickly, are happier, and more creative. The old methodologies from programme & project management, CoBIT, ITIL, and others are too slow and must adapt, or they will become not only irrelevant, but they’ll also be a millstone around a company’s neck.
My Pick: A quiet revolution in rule breaking will occur. There will be some lash back, which will be largely ignored. Unduly process driven companies will lose revenue.