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Drew Turney
Technology Journalist

Drew Turney writes about technology, science, film, books, pop culture and the crossroads between any or all of them

Drew Turney
Technology Journalist

Drew Turney writes about technology, science, film, books, pop culture and the crossroads between any or all of them

This year will be all about data and what it can do. Read on to discover how these tech trends will change the way you run your business.

Man looking over futuristic city

There'll be more data than ever before, it'll come from more places than ever before and be stored in more places than ever before. This year we’ll witness technology that has only been previously seen in science fiction.

Computing is getting bigger, faster, and smarter. Soon everything from your phone to your car will become part of a vast worldwide network, generating data on everything from your customers to your fuel and energy use to help improve your business’s performance.

Trend 1: 3D printing

A machine works like a printer and 'builds' an object out of anything from polymers to titanium and even cells. Also called ‘additive manufacturing technologies’ – the raw materials are fed into a device about the size of a microwave oven, the design is loaded and it creates the shape one drop, or layer at a time.

How will it make your business better?

Whether you are the supplier or customer, you'll simply download the file from the manufacturer's website or email it to the user. Within a couple of hours – depending on the material – your 3D printer will build it right there, Star Trek replicator-style.

Trend 2: Reality computing

The quantity of data coming from the environment and workplaces, houses and even ourselves can give us a more detailed digital representation of the world than ever before. Run it all through super-fast computing and we can get real-time simulations of everything from airflow in a wind tunnel to the material we need for a new building.

How will it make your business better?

Being able to tweak the parameters in design simulations means more control over making the final product and could offer a more cost effective construction. Building projects can be planned down to minute detail using the most optimum design without laying a single brick, creating more user- and environmentally- friendly structures and spaces. 

Trend 3: The industrial internet

This year will see the rapid expansion of sensors and devices connected to the internet, all of them reading, recording and communicating constantly. They'll be attached to plane engines, manufacturing robots, your smartphone and much more, and they'll generate more data than we've ever dreamed of to tell us how our machines and tools are performing.

How will it make your business better?

It'll shift maintenance from preventative to reactive, slash operating costs and give us more insight into performance. Machines and software will alert us when it needs something fixed or replaced by synthesising zettabytes (that's a thousand, thousand, thousand gigabytes) of data. Wearable computers and ingestible digital medicines will do the same for human health.

Trend 4: The hybrid cloud

A lot of applications or data will be hosted in public cloud services like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, but security or regulatory requirements – not to mention a series of high profile hacks – will mean your directors or investors will feel twitchy about keeping sensitive information on public services. That's where private cloud environments (we own or use exclusively) will come in.

How will it make your business better?

More money will be spent on more cloud services this year, and the increasing complexity of having data in multiple locations with multiple providers in multiple systems will mean you'll probably engage the services of a cloud broker to set it all up for you.

Trend 5: Machine learning

Because computers work faster and don't get bored, we're programming them with learning algorithms that give them a little creativity and the ability to make ‘human’ judgements on data that we could never digest.

How will it make your business better?

Technology like Siri will hit the big time. Machines that respond to you like humans will be everywhere, and they'll know more about you than ever before based on past experience. They'll respond to more than just your voice with the programming ‘remembering’ past activity so it evolves allowing you to work more efficiently.

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