We are a third of the way into 2016, and already some clear technology trends are emerging. Here’s our look at a few of the tech trends that are working out this year – and one that hasn’t.
Late last year, we predicted that drones would be a major consideration in 2016.
While we were right, it would appear to be for reasons we didn’t expect. Affordable drones are opening up new opportunities for media production and are a regular fixture at everything from major sporting events to breaking news stories.
The economical drone with high quality cameras has started to replace the more expensive helicopter-mounted filming rig for a variety of aerial filming and photography projects. This is a real boon for the advertising and marketing sector, lowing the cost of production without compromising production quality.
However, it’s not without flaws.
Regulations for the use of drones in built-up and populated areas are being tightened amid concerns over privacy and safety. There are concerns about drones (and carrier bags) interfering with airport flightpaths, while a broadcast filming drone fell out of the sky and nearly flattened defending World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher during an Alpine slalom race in Italy in January.
Streaming Video OTT Services
So-called Over-The-Top (OTT) services are continuing to disrupt the telecoms and broadcasting sectors. Services such as Skype and WhatsApp are proving a credible threat to landline telephony services, undermining a once rock-solid revenue base and helping to fuel calls for telephony to be unbundled from the provision of DSL broadband services. However, it is streaming video that is truly reshaping the market. Traditional free-to-air and pay-tv broadcasters are raising their on-demand game in order to compete and defend against the onslaught of Netflix and Amazon Video.
Subscriber numbers are climbing, and Netflix is gambling on price rises this year to deliver a healthy increase in ARPU without triggering a surge in customer churn. As for Amazon – it has gambled a lot of money on high-profile shows. Man in the High Castle has been a critical and viewer success. We wait and see if Clarkson, Hammond and May can help shift millions more Fire TV Sticks for the monolithic global e-retailer with their big-budget re-imaging of Top Gear. What could possibly go wrong?
Automation and AI
A theme that has quickly established itself as a major consideration for industries as diverse as manufacturing, healthcare and IT security – autonomous systems and the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) is changing how we interact with companies, data, good and services.
Advances in the technology mean that entrusting mission-critical tasks to machine-speed autonomous systems is viable in a number of industries. Meanwhile, the sophistication of AI interfaces means that direct customer interaction can be entrusted to virtual staff constructs for online and telephone interactions.
AI is also helping some organisations revamp the way they deal with call and customer handling, freeing up staff from simple first-stage call orchestration and routing tasks. Instead, AI systems are handing these calls and interacting with customers before routing the calls to the right departments. It means first-line staff can be moved to second and third line support and sales roles where they can deliver even more value for the business and customers. These benefits do not just apply in retail, they also apply to sales and marketing interactions, research and other scriptable interaction opportunities.
The one that hasn’t worked out… Smartwatches!
It’s time to call poppycock on the notion that an internet-connected and app-equipped smartwatch would change our world. It hasn’t really panned out.
Sure, there is a visible presence for Apple’s smartwatch. The same is true for products from established electronics makers as well as from smartwatch innovator Pebble. However, a lack of reliable figures on sales and user rates (Apple does not break out its watch numbers like it does for iPhones and MacBooks) makes it hard to quantify adoption success. App support is there but is patchy. App developers have not flocked to smartwatch platforms in their droves. There’s also the undeniable fact that being separated from a smartwatch is unlikely to ruin your life and set off a panic attack. The same can’t be said for your smartphone.
As things stand – Smartphones remain essential life-changing equipment. Smartwatches remain some way away from having the same impact on their owners.
With more than half of 2016 still to come, we may see more tech trends emerge – but it’s the trends listed here which have shaped the year to date, and will define how we look back on 2016.