18 Tech Predictions For 2017

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

CREDIT: Getty Images

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. We will hear more about 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. Funding will skew toward artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). And most of it will be a bust.

“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 will continue to rise as the 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 percent 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. A shift to social is essential 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 percent increase in video traffic over the past month.”

–Jordan Insley, owner of QuickShip Electronics, an eBay seller of consumer electronics including TVs, tablets, consumers and more.

5. Technology will play a bigger role in food sourcing for restaurants.

“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. Business intelligence will be democratized.

“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 utilize 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 as small business supply chains get big business capabilities.

“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 business transactions over social messaging channels 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 organizations 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. Small businesses will discover opportunities with new generic top-level domains (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 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. Personalization will play a greater role in loyalty programs.

“Towards the end of 2016, we saw more travel loyalty programs take action to increase personalization, realizing that loyalty is not a one-size-fits-all. By leveraging geographic and behavioral 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.

12. The construction industry will tap into the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The time is ripe for innovation in the construction industry. In 2017, we’ll see more contractors and fleet managers leveraging the Internet of Things by connecting their heavy equipment assets with telematics to retrieve incredible amounts of data. With telematics technology, they can see a real-time snapshot of their equipment–everything from fuel levels and engine performance to idle time. And with the right telematics platform, all this data rolls up into actionable insights–for example, helping to uncover which assets are underutilized, which need maintenance and more. IoT solutions like telematics will help the construction industry boost efficiency and make smarter business decisions.

–Willy Schlacks, president and cofounder of EquipmentShare, a construction technology company helping contractors and heavy equipment owners increase the utilization of their assets and boost the ROI of their fleet.

13. Consumers will expect more from their online mattress.

“The $15 billion mattress industry has seen quite a bit of disruption in the past few years, with new players entering the market at great pace, particularly in the online space… No longer will people be satisfied with the standard bed-in-a-box. I think we will increasingly see consumers looking for accessible luxury and the ability to customize their mattress to their own preference in terms of size, firmness, materials as well as box spring and frame options. Customer service and ease of full service in home delivery will remain a top priority as well, as the mattress industry has too long been plagued by low levels of customer satisfaction.”

–Ron Rudzin, CEO of luxury online mattress company The Saatva Company.

14. It will be a warm, but not hot or cold IPO market.

“With economists and think tanks warning of a potential recession in the next 24 months, the IPO market for technology companies will be weaker in 2017. And that’s a good thing. Tech companies looking to exit into the public market will have to be stronger, more resilient and profitable to overcome this skepticism. It will be Darwinian, but those that can survive the heightened scrutiny will have a better shot of making it for the long haul.”

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

15. Expect to see more focus on smart city investment models.

“We will need new models if we are to move from pilot projects to full scale smart city operations. Seventy-eight percent of total energy demand comes from cities and a huge investment is needed to hit the COP21 climate objectives: $53 trillion, according to the UN.”

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

16. Acquisitions will be the new IPOs.

“While Snapchat and Airbnb will grab all the headlines next year, I’ll be paying just as much attention to big ‘boring’ equity and investment firms like Vista and Silver Lake who are snapping up promising start-ups, as well as CPG stalwarts like Clorox, Walmart and Procter and Gamble. These are the businesses dealing with what Robert Siegel and Aaron Levie call ‘The Industrialists’ Dilemma’– the systems, management and assets that led to their success in the industrial era are holding them back today, in some cases fatally. Part of addressing that issue will be acquiring startups with great talent, smart software and no brand reputation to jeopardize. And it’s already starting to happen. Unilever didn’t just buy a new revenue stream with Dollar Shave Club, they bought an entirely new digital competency. Acquisitions will be the overlooked dynamic next year.”

–Tien Tzuo, CEO of subscription billing, management and finance provider Zuora.

17. Smart employers will use technology to better engage workers.

“The labor market for 2017 will continue to be impacted by the infiltration of technology, the needs of millennial and Gen Z workers, the collaboration revolution and the desire of all workers to find an acceptable equilibrium between work and non-work activities. For employers, this means continuing to engage employees through meaningful work experiences, using technology to enable everyday activity and connecting every employee’s work to their company and community success.”

–Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America, a staffing organization that provides temporary, temporary-to-hire and permanent placement services each week to over 100,000 people through its network of more than 900 branches and client-dedicated locations.

18. More people will rely on online reselling for disposable income.

“2016 was the year where secondhand has finally lost its stigma. Buying secondhand is becoming more popular and consumers are more quickly looking to online marketplaces to create a source of disposable income. Consumers are also making their initial purchasing decisions based on which brand or style has the highest chance of reselling. Our customers are more interested in buying a high-end handbag that hold its value when they’re ready to get rid of it. Reselling has become a lifestyle.”

–Corri McFadden, owner of eDrop-off, an eBay seller of designer clothing, handbags and other high-end fashion.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

By Christina DesMarais
Originally published @ INC .com
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