Shaping the future: Technology megatrends for 2017 and beyond

In 2010, social, cloud, analytics and mobile were tipped as megatrends and went on to reshape society – but what are the emerging tech trends with the biggest potential for the next decade?

We believe that AI, augmented reality (AR) and digital platforms represent the next era in IT. The combination of radical computational power, near-endless volumes of data and unprecedented advances in deep neural networks will enable organisations to solve problems not previously encountered.

AI will potentially have the largest effect, with machine learning and intelligent computers having the potential to automate jobs that currently require a real person. Driverless cars and drones will revolutionise the motor and logistics industries, changing the way we move ourselves and other objects around the world.

It will be worth following the key AI technologies, including deep learning, deep reinforcement learning, artificial general intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing and conversational user interfaces. Commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – or drones – and autonomous vehicles, smart dust and smart robots can also be regarded as part of AI and they have the potential to have a profound effect on the technology landscape and wider society as a whole.

A second big trend in emerging technology is immersive experiences. It is likely that technology will evolve to become more human-centric to the point where it could introduce transparency between people, businesses and things. Technology will evolve to become more adaptive, contextual and fluid in the workplace, at home, and in interacting with businesses and other people.

Transparent immersive experiences will potentially include 4D printing, augmented reality, connected home and virtual reality (VR) technologies, along with human augmentation, nanotube electronics and computer-brain interfaces.

The third megatrend – digital platforms – concerns ecosystem-enabling platforms that are laying the foundations for entirely new business models, predicted to form the bridge between humans and technology.

5G, digital twins, edge computing, blockchain, IoT platforms, serverless platforms as a service (PaaS) and software-defined security are the key technologies CIOs should be looking at. Other emerging technologies related to digital platforms include neuromorphic hardware and quantum computing.

In addition to the potential impact on businesses, these trends provide a significant opportunity for enterprise architecture leaders to help senior business and IT leaders respond to digital business opportunities and threats by creating signature-ready actionable and diagnostic deliverables that guide investment decisions.