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Director's View: 2017 - Reboot, redefine

Technology has been on as much a rollercoaster of transformation and change as politics and economies across the globe, and 2017 is not going to change that, says Johan de Villiers, Managing Director, First Technology.

It is traditional at this time of year to look back at the events of the past year and assess their impact, while looking ahead to the potential of the new year and the changes it could bring. For many, the farewell to 2016 has not been fond, but at least 2017 looks set to introduce technology that will completely transform the way business is done.

Two of the biggest trends for 2017 are machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Gartner has placed applied AI and advanced machine learning, alongside intelligent apps and intelligent things, as one of the leading strategic technology trends of 2017. Deep learning and neural network processing have inordinate potential to create incredibly advanced systems and, of course, even more intelligent solutions. Google has already stepped aboard the machine learning train with their recent release of machine learning APIs, and algorithms used by Netflix have been collared to help NASA find planets that can support life.

How this translates into the everyday enterprise, of course, will be in the richer analysis and usage of data to benefit bottom line and business. It is also the route to the consumer’s heart as it can be potentially used in any kind of application or solution to deliver the ultimate in user experiences. Which leads neatly into the next trend – humanised big data.

Humanised Big Data uses the reams of big data to do more than just sell things and push messages ‘at’ people, instead it will become more about quality and empathy, adding the human touch to speak ‘to’ people. In addition to supporting the transformation of AI and the development of machine learning, humanised data can shift consumer and business perceptions around technology and how it can benefit them.

Everything on demand will also dominate the technology scene over the next 12 months, kicking off around the end of the first quarter. On demand as a concept found its feet in 2016, dominating market and solution across the globe. It has taken a firm foothold in South Africa, in spite of lagging infrastructure, and 2017 could well see organisations invest more heavily into its potential. Consumers want everything right now, right here. The businesses which can give it to them will take the lead. Think Kodak and the digital camera – it’s an ageing example, but it has never been more relevant than today.

Finally, the concept of the digital twin will become less of a niche construct and more of a concentrated reality, especially towards the end of the year. It allows for organisations to gain a deeper understanding of their technology and how best to optimise and use it through virtualisation. It is a virtual-physical pairing that takes all the trends – AI, machine learning, big data, internet of things – and all the advantages they bring, and wraps them into one cohesive bundle that can help the business achieve the extraordinary. Think production, asset management, fleet control and so much more, optimised and analysed to improve the business. The potential has been proven and it is likely that the local market will start to invest in it heavily before the end of 2017.

Until next time, thank you for your continued support of First Technology.

Warm Regards

Johan de Villiers Managing Director

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