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2017 Forecasts: Smart, Social and Mobile

Let’s peer (no pun intended) into the crystal ball to see how AI and other key tech trends could affect enterprise networks and the professionals who manage them in 2017.

Everything gets smarter
“AI and machine learning have reached a critical tipping point and will increasingly augment and extend virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application,” Gartner suggests in its list of top 10 strategic tech trends for 2017.

Gartner says this will play out in scenarios like bank fraud detection, virtual personal assistant apps, conversational chat bots, autonomous vehicles and drones. If you want a number (and what forecaster doesn’t enjoy dabbling in a few stats?), IDC estimates that by 2018, 75 per cent of developer teams will include AI/cognitive computing functionality in one or more applications and services they create.

… and cloudier
Cloud is pretty much ubiquitous by now and, in 2017, it’s going to get both more complicated and more focused. IDC says that rather than just being cloud consumers, businesses of all stripes will become cloud providers by offering their own cloud-based products and services to their customers. At the same time, IDC sees industry-specific clouds forming around verticals like retail and finance.

In his outlook for the coming year, Cisco’s Jeff Reed expects more network security functions to head to the cloud. By adding machine learning (there’s that AI again) to cloud-based security, “we’ll see much better and faster diagnosis and remediation,” predicts Reed, who leads Cisco’s enterprise infrastructure and solutions group.

IDC thinks augmented reality is poised to go social and mobile, particularly on Facebook. IDC sees mobile AR apps blowing past the 400 million mark for monthly users sometime in 2018. Gartner similarly advises enterprises to capitalize on the coming wave by “look(ing) for targeted applications of VR and AR through 2020.”

Let’s get physical
IDC used its 2017 predictions webcast to unveil its fourth platform called augmented reality. This phenomenon will literally mesh IT systems with the human body, from implanted brain chips to skin tattoos that control our mobile devices. Gartner alludes to this in its own trends forecast by suggesting “over time, AR and VR (will) expand beyond visual immersion to include all human senses.” Far out.

We’ve got the power
Taking full advantage of these advances, of course, requires communications infrastructure (CI) to power them. Fiber will be more important than ever to handle increasing demand, especially for wireless and over the top services. Enterprises require diverse, secure, low-latency connectivity that provides the ability to scale. To accommodate growing workloads and volumes of data, businesses will continue to rely on colocation and cloud infrastructure.

The bottom line for 2017: infrastructure has never been more important.