Technology is always moving forward, and as 2017 gets off the ground, it’s a good time to look at the influential tech trends that we’re sure to be hearing more about in the coming year.
Voice Command, AI, and Chatbots
Voice command is everywhere, thanks to projects like Alexa from Amazon and Google Assistant. Expect 2017 to be the year that intelligent voice-enabled services find their way into all sorts of products, ranging from baby monitors to self-driving cars. At the same time, businesses are finding ways to capitalize on AI and chatbot technology that is getting better by the day. From simple customer service queries to tools for encouraging customer engagement, it’s clear that these advanced technologies will play increasingly larger roles in businesses of all sizes.
Like home landlines that got replaced by mobile phones before them, business phones are quickly being replaced with VoIP phones as businesses move their phone systems to the cloud. Business cloud phone systems offer many advantages over older PBX systems, including reduced up-front and ongoing costs, advanced features, and easy scalability.
Cloud and Collaboration Apps
In the workplace, collaboration is key. The number of employees working remotely part- or full-time has more than doubled since 2005, creating a need for a wide variety of tools for collaboration. Cloud-based sync tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive can handle simple data syncing and access across devices, but for true interactivity, modern workplaces require advanced collaboration tools like RingCentral Glip. Combining file storage, chat, task management, and other essential business needs into a unified interface streamlines team communication and improves their productivity, no matter where workers are physically located.
Self-driving cars are one of the hottest ideas in tech right now, attracting attention and development efforts from heavy hitters like Google, Tesla, Uber, and even Apple. Uber made headlines when it launched a fleet of self-driving cars in its hometown of San Francisco in mid-December. The California Department of Motor Vehicles was less enthusiastic, however, insisting that the company needed to pay for permits to test autonomous vehicles on public streets. Uber refused and ended up scuttling the San Francisco program a week after it began. But that’s just the beginning of the story for autonomous cars. Uber is putting those vehicles on the road in Arizona and Tesla recently announced that all of its cars are now built with onboard hardware for autonomous driving.
Tesla sees self-driving cars as safety and sustainability play, indicating that “full autonomy will enable a Tesla to be substantially safer than a human driver, lower the financial cost of transportation for those who own a car, and provide low-cost on-demand mobility for those who do not.” The company has continued to test and refine self-driving capabilities before beginning to roll out the feature to Tesla owners.
While it’s impossible to fully predict where technology will take us in 2017 and beyond, we can count on tech to become increasingly integral to both our business and personal lives.
Originally published Jan 12, 2017, updated Aug 12, 2020