Daniel Burrus’ Top 25 Technology-Driven
Trends for the Year Ahead

1. Big Data Gets Bigger and Use of High Speed Data Analytics Expands

Big Data is a term to describe the technologies and techniques used to capture and utilize the exponentially increasing streams of data with the goal of bringing enterprise-wide visibility and insights to make rapid critical decisions. High Speed Data Analytics using advanced cloud services will increasingly be used as a complement to existing information management systems and programs to identify actionable insights from the massive big data explosion. Big Data-as-a-Service will emerge as cloud providers offer midsize and smaller organizations access to much larger streams of relevant data they could not otherwise tap into.

2. Cloud Computing Grows with Advanced Cloud Services

New variations on public, private, hybrid, and personal mobile clouds will be increasingly embraced by businesses of all sizes, as this represents a major shift in how organizations obtain and maintain software, hardware, and computing capacity. Companies of all sizes are using the cloud and virtualized services as an enabler to cut costs in IT, human resources, and sales management functions.

3. Virtualization of Storage, Desktops, Applications, and Networking

The virtualization of hardware and software will see continued acceptance and growth by both large and small businesses as virtualization security improves.Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) is increasingly joining Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), creating what some have called “IT as a Service.” In addition to the rapid growth of virtual storage, we will continue to see the virtualization of processing power, allowing mobile devices to access supercomputer capabilities and apply it to processes such as purchasing and logistics, to name a few. These services will help companies cut costs as they provide access to powerful software programs and the latest technology without having the expense of a large IT staff and time-consuming, expensive upgrades.

4. Virtualization of Processes and Services (On Demand Services)

The virtualization of processes and services will increasingly be offered to companies needing to update and streamline existing services, and to rapidly deploy new services. The rapid growth of Collaboration-as-a-Service, Security-as-a-Service, Networking-as-a-Service, and many more are all giving birth to Everything-as-a-Service. All will grow rapidly for small and large companies, with many new players in a multitude of business process categories.

5. Wearables and Applications Go Mainstream

Wearables will increasingly be used for both personal and business applications. Apple’s smart watch with health sensors and software joins Google, Samsung, Microsoft and others as they battle for market share. This will drive further innovation and sales in other wearable technology creating new opportunities as well as challenges for organizations of all sizes.

6. Consumerization of IT Increases

Over the past few years, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) caught many IT departments by surprise; it’s now time to get in front of the next predictable trend, Wear Your Own Device (WYOD), and turn it into an advantage. As WYODincreases, consumers will become the driving force for innovation and technology, which will be fueled by rapid advances in processing power, digital storage, and bandwidth. Instead of seeing this as a problem, smart companies are turning it into a competitive advantage by consumerizing their applications, and by recommending safe and secure third party hardware and software apps.

7. Gameification of Training and Education

Education and training will increasingly focus on accelerating learning by using advanced simulations and skill-based learning systems that are self-diagnostic, interactive, game-like, and competitive. All will be focused on giving the user an immersive experience thanks to a photorealistic 3D interface. By making the experience fun and personalized, learning will improve and the use will spread.

8. Online Learning Gains Momentum

Taking courses and getting degrees online continues to accelerate. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) have been embraced by highly recognized and traditional educational institutions, putting them in a position to challenge all educational systems by making location and tuition far less of a barrier to receiving the information, training, and knowledge people need to know in order to succeed in a rapidly changing world. This combined with Gamificationsystems, will change the face of global education.

9. eBooks, eNewspapers, eMagazines and Interactive Multimedia eTextbooks use is Rapidly Growing

ePublications are finally passing the tipping point due to the abundance of smartphones and tablets that provide a full color experience, and publishers providing apps that give a better-than-paper experience by including cut, copy, paste, print, and multimedia capabilities. Interactive eTextbooks will finally take off thanks to easy-to-use software freeing new publishers to create compelling and engaging content, and freeing students from a static, expensive, and literally heavy experience.

10. Social Business Applications Diversify

Social takes on a new level of urgency as organizations shift from an Information Age “informing” model to a Communication Age “communicating and engaging” model. Social Software for business will reach a new level of adoption with applications to enhance relationships, collaboration, networking, social validation, and more. Social Search and Social Analytics will increasingly be used by marketers and researchers to measure real-time sentiment of large groups of targeted people.

11. Smarter Smartphones and Tablets Drive Mobile Process Innovation

The vast majority of mobile phones sold globally will have a browser, making the smartphone our primary computer that is with us 24/7 and signaling a profound shift in global computing. This new level of mobility and connectivity by many millions around the world is increasingly allowing any size business to transform how they market, sell, communicate, collaborate, educate, train, and innovate using mobility. An enterprise mobility strategy that puts mobile first is rapidly becoming mandatory for all size organizations as we see mobile data, mobile media, mobile sales, mobile marketing, mobile commerce, mobile finance, mobile payments, mobile health, and many more explode.

12. Mobile Apps for Business Processes Grow Rapidly

As we increasingly transform business processes using mobility, we will see mobile apps for purchasing, supply chain, logistics, distribution, service, sales, maintenance, and more grow rapidly. There will be an increasing focus onBusiness App Stores within companies giving users access to the personalized information they need on their mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

13. 3D Displays for Smartphones and Tablets Start to Appear

3D displays will move beyond gaming and become part of our smartphones and tablets driving a wide-scale consumer acceptance of 3D computing. This trend is just starting with hand-held gaming systems and, thanks to the need to visualize ever increasing amounts of rich data, we will see 3D data simulations for the enterprise grow rapidly for the military, medicine, fashion, architecture, and entertainment to name a few.

14. Augmented Reality (AR) Apps and Devices Starts to Grow

Augmented Reality will become more common by adding just-in-time information to our physical world. Simply aim your smartphone camera at a crowded street to find the stores who have the exact products you are looking for. Or, when you are in a store, use your phone’s camera and AR app to quickly locate the products you need.

15. Smart Virtual Electronic Assistants Get Smarter and More Personal

The use of smart eAssistants is accelerating and offering what is rapidly becoming a mobile electronic concierge available on any of your smart devices, including your phone, tablet, television and car. Soon retailers will have a Siri-like sales assistant and many will be using an e-Personal Health Assistant that taps into the real-time health data from your smart watch to predict potential problems and offer suggestions.

16. Multiple Biometrics Used for Security

Next Gen Biometrics will be increasingly integrated into your smartphone, tablet and other devices, which will play an increasing role in both identity management and security. Expect to see multiple biometrics, including facial recognition and voice recognition based on the level of security you need.

17. Mobile Banking and Payments Takes Off

Mobile banking using smartphones as an eWallet is already being used in an increasing number of countries and is finally taking off on a larger scale in the U.S., thanks to an increasing number of phones with secure mobile banking apps, Near Field Communications (NFC) chips, Biometric Identification and the use of Tokens where no credit card or personal information is exchanged.

18. Visual Communications for Business Increase

Visual communications takes video conferencing to a new level thanks to free programs like SKYPE, FaceTime, and others for video communication on phones, tablets, and home televisions. Businesses of all sizes are rapidly embracing this as a main relationship-building and communications tool.

19. Enhanced Location Awareness Embraced by Large Retail

Location awareness using in-building systems allows customers with smartphones to navigate stores and find what they are looking for fast. This combined with Geo-Social Marketing and Augmented Reality will drive the creation of more business to consumer apps. In addition, Geo-Spatial Visualization combines Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with location-aware data, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and other location-aware sensors (including the current location of users from the use of their mobile devices) to create new insights and competitive advantage. Early enterprise applications include logistics and supply chain to name a few.

20. Smart TV Using Apps and Streaming Entertainment Grows Rapidly

The increasing use of Internet Television (IPTV) will fuel a major shift in home viewing. Next generation apps for your TV will allow you to further personalize the viewing experience. In addition to large HD and 4K Ultra HD TVs as our main viewing screen, tablets are increasingly becoming a viable replacement for the second and third TV in your home. This is the beginning of a major shift that will take place in living rooms globally.

21. 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing) of Finished Goods Increase

Personalized Manufacturing of finished goods using 3D Printing will grow exponentially. 3D printers build things by depositing material, typically plastic or metal, layer by layer until the product is finished. Originally designed to print prototypes, they are increasingly being used to print final products such as jewelry, iPhone cases, shoes, car dashboards, parts for jet engines, prosthetic limbs, human jaw bones, and much more. It allows companies to manufacture one-of-a-kind or small runs of items quickly, locally, and with far fewer costs. We will begin to see Manufacturing as-a-Service begin as designers use CADsoftware to design a product, send it digitally to a 3D Printing company who owns the industrial strength 3D printers, and then they will ship it to the customer.

22. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT) Expand

Machine-to-Machine communications using chips, microsensors, and both wired and wireless networks, will join networked sensors to create a rapidly growingInternet of Things sharing real-time data, performing diagnostics, and making virtual repairs all without human intervention. By 2020, there will be well over 50 billion “things” talking to each other, performing tasks, and making decisions based on predefined guidelines using artificial intelligence. For example, smart cars will increasingly become aware of situational changes and respond as they get more connected to smart infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and other cars, thanks to embedded and networked sensors combined with other technologies such as GPS.

23. Advanced Automation and Robotics Finds Wider Use

Advances in Machine Learning and AI, coupled with networked intelligent sensors will create a giant leap forward after decades of promise and slow growth, thanks to exponential advances in processing power, digital storage, and bandwidth. Also, thanks to better sensors, increasing Machine Intelligence, and Siri-like voice communications, robots will work with humans in new and productive ways.

24. Drones Go Beyond Fire, Police, Search and Rescue

The number of applications for drones will continue to expand rapidly. Drones have already proven to be of high value for search and rescue, and are rapidly being applied to many industries. For example, agriculture used drones to check crops, fences, and cattle, utility companies use them to look for downed power lines, and real estate agents use them for aerial photography. The explosion of hobby drones will drive innovation for both personal and industrial applications.

25. Energy Storage and Micro Grids Increase In Application and Use

Energy storage starts to become a reality as companies such as Tesla start to sell their smart battery systems to businesses and homes who generate some of their own power using solar, wind, or other systems. In addition, as first generation hybrid vehicles get too old for the marketplace, there will be millions of batteries that will still hold enough of a charge to be repurposed into inexpensive energy storage systems. This will enable a national network of smaller, and more secure, smart Micro Grids. Looking a little further out, as electric and hybrid cars increase in numbers, they will increasingly be plugged in when not in use for the purposes of charging, storing, and using power.

Spot Your Own Hard Trends

Spot Your Own Hard Trends

Are these the only game-changing technology-driven trends to be aware of? Of course not. As we all know from past experience, technology is always evolving, resulting in new trends emerging and new products appearing every day. That’s why smart organizations stay ahead of the trends by anticipating them, adapting them to their unique environment before the competition does, and ultimately enabling the organization to profit from them. The more you’re able to do that, the sooner your organization will reach the next level of success.