What can we expect in 2017? I sat down for a chat with my colleagues from consultancy, pre-sales and vendor management, to find out what they see in the year ahead.
AR, VR and voice: innovation in user interface
It’s been coming for a while, but 2017 may be the year we see the keyboard and mouse in retreat, and other control technologies such as voice arriving, as well as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) making inroads into companies.
Simon Ashall, Head of Vendor Management, says, “Microsoft’s HoloLens AR device is coming, as well as PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift – I think that’ll start to have an impact in businesses next year, and VR will eventually become commonplace.”
2017 may well also be the year that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and speech input become mainstream. Matt Berry, Solutions Architect, comments, “Technologies like Google Home and Amazon Echo are taking off for consumers, because it’s natural to just speak to devices.”
“You’ll see that translating into the business environment next year – it’s already built into Windows 10 with Cortana, and the Mac desktop with Siri,” says Matt. “With the actual voice recognition being done on cloud platforms, the accuracy is better than legacy solutions, which makes these new options more popular.”
“Everyone’s familiar with the keyboard and mouse, but now people are starting to get used to talking to their devices,” adds Simon. “As adoption of voice control is increasing in the consumer space, people will start saying ‘I can do this at home, why can’t I do it here’ and it’ll be brought across into businesses – the traditional keyboard/mouse interaction will eventually disappear completely.”
Simon also predicts a decline in desktop sales, with a continued shift to mobile devices. One product that has grabbed his attention is the HP Elite x3, that’s effectively a PC, tablet and smartphone in one.
Simon comments, “It’s an incredible piece of technology – you just need a dock, screen and keyboard, and it means that you become a truly mobile employee, so you can get so much more done.”
“It’s going to drive a tremendous amount of mobility next year because people will look at it and think that’s going to save me a lot of money, increase my productivity and reduce end-user downtime,” continues Simon. “With a fingerprint sensor security risks are lower, and if you lose your device you just get a new one and log in, and all your data is there.”
Cloud marches on
Cloud will continue to make headlines in 2017, with David Skinner, Microsoft Cloud and Solution Specialist, predicting massive growth. He comments, “Cloud is the only viable route for most people, rather than spending thousands of pounds on hardware and the staff to manage it.”
“All of the main arguments against cloud have effectively gone,” says David. “SQL is going to be a big driver, as people start to use the processing power of the cloud, rather than just the traditional storage that you get with solutions like DR (disaster recovery).”
While David sees little differentiation between cloud solutions such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), he does highlight the benefits of the Azure stack, which enables companies to manage their cloud and on premise infrastructure in a hybrid environment.
“Next year will see hyper-convergence grow significantly, and it’ll become almost a de facto standard within the data centre environment,” comments Simon. “On the other hand, we’re seeing a downturn in desktop virtualisation, as cloud, Office 365 and other alternatives are more competitive on cost.”
Simplicity drives change
Looking at other technologies, Matt identifies 3D printing as another possible growth area. He says, “Printing out replacement parts rather than holding stock has got definite IT applications.”
Matt adds, “Last year there was a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), but 2017 is when we’ll start seeing more IoT devices, especially linked to big data and analytics, and with use cases such as security and monitoring. Many of these devices may come in through the back door, through facilities and admin staff purchasing non-IT devices that are IoT-enabled and connecting these to Wi-Fi, perhaps even without IT’s knowledge. This will start to have an impact on network loads and performance.”
Reviewing more mainstream areas, Simon comments, “There’s going to be a significant refresh of meeting room technology, and substantially more video collaboration and communications as people try and drive down costs. The UK transport infrastructure is broken, with strikes and traffic delays; the technology is much more plug and play; connectivity is better than ever before; and people are now more accustomed to being in front of the camera than they were a few years ago – all factors that will help drive a massive push in video conferencing.”
Simon continues, “Next year will be when more people start to lease their IT, especially in the workplace, rather than buy outright, as IT directors look to reduce the cost impact of IT and move it from Capex to Opex.”
“Technology has made big steps forward, and IT is a core component to everyday life,” concludes Matt. “What is motivating change now is a simplicity model, where things become even easier, and technologies like AI and voice will drive that, driven by back-end processing power.”
If you'd like to discuss your IT strategy or find out more about any of the areas discusses above speak to your account manager or contact us.