Tue | Mar 20, 2018

Tech Times | 11 tech predictions for 2017

Published:Monday | January 30, 2017 | 12:24 AM

Here's what a handful of executives and analysts see in their crystal balls.

Predicting the future is hardly a precise science, but identifying macro trends and developments can be done by paying close attention to what's happening in an industry. Here's what a handful of small businesses, startups and analysts are seeing in their crystal balls.


1. How autonomous cars connect to the network.


"Autonomous cars won't use the network to drive - they will rely on on-board systems - but different types of connectivity (V2X) can improve the overall transport systems, for example, by improving traffic flow. We expect more developments in 2017 as car companies, network operators, governments and others explore the benefits, the business case, and the technology options for connectivity."

- Tom Rebbeck, research director at Analysys Mason, specialist advisory firm for the telecoms, media and technology industry.


2. More funding for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing (NLP).


"With a massive potential return for whoever can crack the AI nut, VCs will swarm startups in these spaces like sharks smelling chum in the water. But don't expect a feeding frenzy. Most of these startups will crash and burn without ever turning a profit. That said, a select few will drive truly deep innovation and, in doing so, reshape the world."

- Rod Favaron, president and CEO of Spredfast, a software platform which enables companies to manage, integrate, and amplify social content across digital touch points.


3. Mobile becoming primary shopping platform.


"The online customer is getting younger. In the past year, our business has seen a shift to a younger generation, which means that we are processing a lot more mobile purchases than ever before. We now have around 40 per cent of sales on mobile. This also impacts the way we display our products on our website and how customers are able to navigate."

- Rocky Schiano, owner of Street Sounds NYC, an e-commerce business with presence on eBay and a storefront in Brooklyn, New York, which sells guitars, musical instruments and other music accessories.


4. Social needed to succeed in the online marketplace.


"In 2016, we really worked to diversify our business. Consumers are getting smarter about what they want, so we have added more products, new technologies and, most importantly, adapted our business to be more social. We have now developed videos to showcase our unique product set to build trust for the consumer, but also because it's easier to digest over social platforms. We have seen a 100 per cent increase in video traffic over the past month."

Jordan Insley, owner of QuickShip Electronics, an e-commerce seller of consumer electronics including TVs, tablets, consumers and more.


5. Tech will play a bigger role in food sourcing


"There are quite a few trends that are going to change the way we eat in 2017 - for the better - from the farm, to behind the scenes in restaurant kitchens, to the dining table itself. For example, 'Seed to Stomach': the growth of food tracking applications to discover exactly where every ingredient on a restaurant menu is sourced is going to become more of the norm in 2017. We'll also see many more local suppliers who used to get passed over by technology, enabled by cloud-based platforms, which will make it easy to bring more locally sourced foods to restaurants. This means not only more farm-to-table eateries, but also more seasonal, creative items on the menu."

- Guy Even Ezra, founder and CEO of SimpleOrder, an online platform for restaurant purchasing and inventory management.


6. Democratising business intelligence.


"Traditional business intelligence has been the realm of BI experts, which forced the BI team into the role of information broker. BI is becoming easier for anyone within a company to access the information she or he needs, without BI or analytics expertise. Different types of users can utilise BI that is relevant to their roles; a product manager can focus on issues within their application, and a CMO can focus on marketing campaign-related results. With everyone in a company able to see a clear picture of their responsibilities, delivering on goals becomes much easier, and having a single source of truth company-wide helps all teams align around the company vision."

- David Drai, cofounder and CEO of real-time anomaly detection and analytics firm Anodot.


7. Freight will cost less


"Companies like Apple have built their empires on pitch-perfect supply chains. Their trick is great bargaining power, combined with incredible access to data. As LogTech brings the logistics industry online, backed by $5 billion of VC investments in 2016, data is getting more transparent. Real-time access to information is a game-changer, enabling the smallest companies to easily source globally, just like multi-nationals."

Dr. Zvi Schreiber, founder and CEO of online freight marketplace Freightos.


8. Customer service and transactions via social messaging will rise.


"Social messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger and Twitter Direct Message are becoming increasingly important tools for brand engagement and customer service resolution. Big brands are already seeing a major shift from public posts to private messages. Innovative technologies will only further that trend as they open up new opportunities for seamless customer to business interactions including chat bots, flight reservations, and payment transactions. As social platforms continue to adopt these new technologies in 2017, brands and customers alike will turn to messaging channels for more efficient, personal and effortless resolution."

- Joshua March, founder and CEO of social customer engagement platform Conversocial.


9. Music is the next big tech investment.


"It is prime time that investors, separate from the TechStars accelerator program, turn their attention to music tech startups. And they are beginning to notice it. In the past year alone, we have seen multiple organisations emerge to help support music startups, including Project Music, Marathon Labs, and others all aimed at solving existing problems within the industry. With the welcoming of 2017, we'll see a push towards technology investments in the sector. This boom in capital will result in huge spikes in innovation, addressing the common woes of tracking, management, and remuneration for artists."

- Bruno Guez, founder and CEO of Revelator, a cloud-based provider of data management services for the music industry.


10. New opportunities for small businesses with gTLDs.


"There are now more opportunities in the domain space than ever before. The industry previously struggled with marketing to consumers, but recently we have seen a growing effort around showcasing the value in using domain extensions outside of .com. Heading into the new year, we will see more businesses experiment with new gTLDs (generic top-level domains) and take advantage of the creative ways to use domain extensions in branding."

- Francesco Cetraro, head of operations for .cloud, a top-level domain for the cloud industry, startups, creative professionals, online retailers and bloggers.


11. Personalisation will play a greater role in loyalty programs.


"Towards the end of 2016, we saw more travel loyalty programs take action to increase personalisation, realising that loyalty is not a one-size-fits-all. By leveraging geographic and behavioural member data, loyalty programs can better understand their members' needs and habits on an individual basis, and deliver the right offer to the right member at the right time. We'll see more programs follow suit in the next year."

- Danielle Brown, VP of marketing at Points, a loyalty currency management platform.