Technology has changed.  Instead of consumers rushing out to buy the latest must have product, technology is now adapting to our needs. We are now in the drivers seat, using technology to get more out of work and life.  Every year, there are new and exciting technologies available to use.  2017 is no different.  Take a look at some of the top technology trends this year:

Machine Learning

In 2017 get ready for your smartphone to know you better than you know yourself.  We’ve all seen predictive text and apps offering ‘suggestions’ of people you may wish to connect with, but what if your phone could determine your mood and emotions through pressure sensors, make health and life predictions using health data and detect different objects around you?  

One tech start up in the US is developing an app to help with mental health – working on an algorithm that assigns sentiment to certain word typed by a smartphone’s user – data from conversations is then analysed and the app ascertain the users state of mind.  If an issue is detected, helpline numbers are made available, or a guardian is informed, if the user is a child.    

Gartner predicts machine learning will soon enable systems to ‘understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously’ which will mean more automated functions and fewer human checkpoints for many businesses.

Virtual Reality

Adoption of virtual reality is set to increase in 2017, with costs of production falling, as well as the arrival of new entrants to the market – offering far more than an immersive gaming technology (think Pokemon Go!).  Mark Zuckerberg envisions virtual classrooms with students and teachers in different states or countries with his technology Oculus Rift, while health insurer Medibank, has launched a virtual reality entertainment program to ease loneliness and isolation experienced by patients during long term hospital stays.  The way we view news, sporting events and test drive a new car are also set to change.  Put on those headsets and stay tuned…

Digital Twins

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a process, product or service, and Gartner predicts hundreds of millions of things will be represented by digital twins within three to five years.  With the growth of the internet of things, digital twins have become more effective, collating and analysing data for businesses via sensors so that issues and potential malfunctions can be anticipated and managed before they even occur.  Worried how you’ll cope without your morning caffeine hit if the coffee machine dies? There’s a digital twin for that.

Blockchain

Blockchain, the technology designed to keep data secure in a distributed ledger – and control who has access to that ledger, is set to expand beyond the financial services industry in 2017.  In the healthcare sector for example, blockchain has the potential to change the way medical records are managed between patients, doctors and hospitals, ensuring they are up to date and maintained, while government departments, who have traditionally operated in silos may now be able to work with data in real time, while also keeping fraud and corruption in check.  In Europe, the energy sector is already advancing rapidly via the launch of blockchain based apps enabling consumers to control electronic appliances over the internet, and another opening up the sale of electricity to home energy customers, independent of the utility.

Conversational Systems

Chatbots, or online systems designed to simulate a conversation with another human to provide information and assist with transactions will continue to gain traction this year. Many apps are suffering from user fatigue and marketers must seize other opportunities to interact and engage with their customers.  The chatbot of the future will push the barriers of customer service, delivering relevant information and content to the user, enabling in app product purchasing, not to mention providing live chat for 24/7 support and service.  On the company side, less human interaction and more machine interaction enables small businesses with limited employee resources to effectively engage with their customers and provide improved user experience.    

Technology will impact businesses both big and small in 2017 – keep abreast and leverage what you and your business can do to stay ahead.