This year’s theme is digital disruption. Here we build on December 2015’s research Looking Forward to 2015: Ten Themes for Technology. We will be tracking the following prominent technology themes during the course of 2016.
1. Security and Privacy – Not just for the individual
“The digital revolution is the new industrial revolution”. This exponential growth of the digital age has highlighted severe deficiencies with the protection of sensitive information and data. A recent survey by PwC, found that 90 per cent of large UK organisations had reported a cyber attack this year, up from 81 per cent a year earlier, highlighting the need for cybercrime legislation. 2016 will need a big leap in becoming a global movement to help protect individuals as well as big corporations.
2. Big Data – Knowing what you want and why you want it
2015 saw big data move forward from data capture to data analytics with marketing companies trying to make sense of the vast amount of data at their fingertips. However 2016 will see machine learning at the forefront pushing the concept further from data analytics to data automation. The continued use of algorithms will allow marketers to learn from the huge amounts of data and then make predictions based upon it. IDC forecast that the big data technology and services market is to grow at annual rate of 26.4%.
3. Customer Experience – It’s all about you
The growth of the digital customer is leading to the expansion of an even more personalised and unique service, as more data allows for greater learning. ‘Knowing your customer better’ has a new meaning with the use of location intelligence. More and more retailers will adopt the use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to offer a faster, easier more relevant shopping experience to their consumers.
4. IoT and Advanced Wearables – The emperor’s new tech
The global wearables market is predicted to surpass the £13 billion mark by 2018. Next year will see science and technology continuing to steer this market into connected fabrication. Figures have shown that smartphone growth has begun to level, but they will remain an essential means of accessing information and apps, along with watches, wearables, smart TVs and sensors in the home (known as the device mesh). This will continue to facilitate the advancement of wearable tech from ‘smart thread’ to ’invisible high-tech tattoos’.
5. Automation and Robotic Technology – Will robots free (up) humans?
Robotic technologies are transforming how we learn, conduct our business and monitor our health, not forgetting how we maintain our households. However it is the software-based smart machines that are the current precursors to autonomous agents. Virtual personal assistants (VPAs) such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are already learning to predict our behaviours more efficiently using artificial intelligence (AI) and thus becoming ‘smarter’.
6. Blockchain– Is the future cashless?
Bitcoin has remained a prominent example of Blockchain, yet it is the Blockchain system that underpins these transactions that will likely prove to be a disruptive technology next year, enabling further efficiency and automation of administrative tasks. The potential of Blockchain has been understood to have multiple uses from voting to banking. It is possible that future transactions will all be made wirelessly through the use of IoT and recorded on an open blockchain ledger of your bank cheaply, easily and in real-time.
7. ‘Smart’ materials – The new tech plaster
2016 will see a new concept of ‘self-healing’ innovation. Research and development will continue to be made into ‘smart’ materials. Proto-type developments are being made to repair damaged smartphones and even to create artificial skin. These materials will start to mimic living tissue more than static objects.
8. 3D Printing – Version 2.0
This is not a new theme but one where we expect to see continued innovation with a wider range of new materials available and with the simplification of 3D printing software. 2016 will see “Strati” the ‘world’s first 3D-printed car’ by Local Motors, an American technology company based in Arizona.
9. Connected vehicles – Who’s in the driving seat?
Government grants are already available to promote sales in electric cars. However the rapid growth in the connected vehicle market will bring a transformation to the cars of tomorrow. Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots are already offered in certain car brands enabling up to seven devices to stay connected on the go, whilst keeping the occupants safe and helping to navigate the journey ahead.
10. Virtual reality and Augmented reality – It’s a whole new world
There has been a significant amount of hype surrounding augmented and virtual reality during 2015. However 2016 could be the ‘Year of Virtual Reality’ as blockbuster consumer devices such as Sony’s project Morpheus, Microsoft’s HoloLens and Facebook’s Oculus Rift will be set for release into the market.