Augmented reality, autonomous vehicles and apps with scary IQ quotas – just some of the future IT trends to watch out for 2017.
2016 was a pretty awesome year for IT and tech. Elon Musk conquered space (well kind of), Pokemon Go took augmented reality to places few expected, Slack basically owned the Cloud and self-driving vehicle tests happened on a freeway near you.
Which excitement left us at Justinmind wondering, what IT trends are in store for 2017 and where will interactive prototyping fit into the future tech landscape? With Gartner predicting a $3.5 trillion outlay on IT in 2017 (yes trillion) and a 5% increase in company spend on IT services (up to $943 billion) over the coming 12 months, investment in tech shows no sign in slowing and we can expect more innovation and risk-taking from the sector next year.
Inspired by Gartner’s 2017 predictions, Justinmind brings you our own predictions for 2017, in which we reveal the 8 IT trends to watch and why interactive prototyping will be an essential skill in building the digital future.
Robots will steal your job
OK maybe you won’t be replaced by a robot just quite yet, but AI and machine learning will continue to have a huge impact on the world of work in 2017. Processes, such as manufacturing and distribution, will become largely carried out by machines in the near future. This means demand for IT infrastructure hosting and big data crunching will rise, meaning we have access to more information more quickly. While the prospect of ‘the rise of the machines’ has traditionally been the stuff of nightmarish science fiction, many believe that robots will soon do all the boring stuff while we have more time to be creative at work, build professional relationships and tailor unique client solutions.
Beyond robot colleagues, AI and advanced machine learning will have a noticeable impact on apps and the way we use them. Apps will mature beyond the kind of if x then y algorithm-based logic we’ve become used to and will acquire the ability to learn from our actions and reactions: intelligent apps. And you won’t just see this when you open your virtual PA app; artificial intelligence will work its way into all the apps we use in the near future, taking us towards highly personalized experiences across the software spectrum. How this will play out for app designers is an interesting question.
NUIs, interaction design & prototyping
The user interface is changing: designers are striving to realize the Natural User Interface, an interface that is effectively ‘invisible’, allowing the user to interact directly with the tech nology without a mediator. We’re not there yet, but 2016 shifts in UI design towards a more ‘natural’ experience – the rise of the personable chatbot is the perfect example. And innovative NUIs call for a shake-up of information architecture and interaction design – we expect to see changes in how information to organized on an aesthetic and operational level, and a refocusing on “feel” rather than pure function. Prototyping tools such as Justinmind will be at the forefront of this trend, as they allow designers to rapidly design-prototype-iterate even the most out-there UI innovation, and then gather user reaction to new UIs without before moving on to code.
Not so many years ago, enterprise software was clunky, ugly and built by software companies for their own convenience, not for users. Fast forward a decade or so and the enterprise application landscape is shifting rapidly. There’s been buzz around consumer-quality enterprise apps for a while, but 2017 will be the year in which consumerization really takes off and starts to have a meaningful impact on all our work lives. Expect to have a consistent user experience whether you’re using apps for fun at home or for work at the office, with intuitive user interfaces and navigable information architecture in even the most complex of systems. Multi-device collaboration will become standard in enterprise software, so accessing files and sharing information will be seamless wherever you are and whatever device you’re on.
Check out Entrepreneur Magazine’s predictions for enterprise software in 2017
Virtual and augmented reality
It’s reality, but not as we know it. 2017 will see both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) come into their own. While Pokemon Go brought Augmented Reality to the attention of the masses in 2016 with cute (virtual) critters appearing all over real-life neighbourhoods, 2017 will probably see the potential of AR move beyond gaming. From education to professional training to the gamification of enterprise softwares and search and rescue operations, AR and VR have the potential to revolutionaize many areas of life.
The flourishing of AR and VR has the potential to break open untapped creative opportunities for product and UI designers. Figuring out how what our augmented future will look like both on and off screen, and how the users will interact with these fluid technologies, may well be designers most exciting challenge of the future.
Justinmind clients are already prototyping the virtual future – find out about how Ampersand and Ampersand prototypes virtual reality here.
The Internet of everything
The term internet of things was probably an underestimation: in the next couple of years we may well be talking more about the Internet of everything. Few physical devices will be exempt from the connectivity revolution as companies such as Ericsson continue to push the IoT envelope. In 2017 we’ll see increased Machine to Machine (M2M) communication and a concomitant surge in data. That’s right, the D-word is the key to the internet of everything. Pretty soon we’ll be collecting slews of data from objects as diverse as shipping containers to diaper bins (as Chris Daly explains in this talk from DigitalK).
What does this mean for product designers and managers? That Big Data dashboards, Cloud-based applications and massively complex systems are the key to this connected future. Product designers who are ready to work with massive data sets, who can design systems to convert this data into ‘intelligence’, and who can present that intelligence to users in a digestible format, will be calling the shots.
Autonomous vehicles… ok ok, semi-autonomous vehicles
Yeh, we know this has been a future trend since General Motors claimed Firebird II had an “electronic brain”. But 2017 looks like being the year that these predictions actually come true. Uber promises to launch autonomous vehicles in San Francisco ‘very soon‘, and Google continues to forge ahead with newly-established Waymo. The implications for all those involved in IT are exciting: software is key to the self-driving wave, and companies are fighting to be the first to produce programns powerful and small enough to work in cars. As developers tackle this, UI designers and product managers are thinking about how the new generation of vehicles will present information to users in interfaces.
Designers will need to come up with new affordances, new interfaces, new gestures and new feedback mechanisms to meet the needs of semi-autonomous drivers. It’s going to be exciting.
Chatbots and VAs
Justinmind can’t be the only ones who have e-chatted with a Virtual Assistant without realizing they were talking to a bot, right? 2017 will see Virtual Assitants take even firmer hold as Siri and Alexa face challenges from young upstarts like X.ai’s Amy. Messenger bots will increasingly be used in e-commerce in the coming 12 months, as companies such as Skyscanner and Shopify experiment with machine learning on their platforms. The hope is that chatbots will enable companies to ‘humanize’ the process of selling and upselling, making users feel like they’re interacting with a friend on social media when really they’re being fed through an automation funnel.
Adrian Zumbrunnen wrote about his experience of building a conversational interface; his post is a great place to start for all UI/UX Designers interested in this future trend.