Well we are now a few weeks into 2017, so now seems like a great time to look at what great technologies to look out for this year. Last year was a great year for new cutting edge technology slowly creeping into what we all do. Social is of course the biggest driver for both personal and business more than ever, last year saw most vendors make sweeping moves to try and capture this. You can see this with many applications that have gained specific features that each other has to try and win us all over. Though this was a great move, what does this year hold for us as we start to look at budget planning and implementation of infrastructure and services. Well for me (and this is my personal view) the following items are what to watch in 2017.
- Machine Learning
- Artificial Intelligence
- Personal Assistance Applications
- Embedded Social Collaboration
- Function based systems
These titles are probably words you have seen and read about before, but for me they are the big areas to watch, and also suggest for implementation in 2017.
Now this has been around for many years but has started to really become a reality towards the end of last year. Within the Office 365 and Azure space we have seen great adoption of this type of technology with such things as Office Graph and of course the presentation layer Delve. These components are about creating connections between objects to help us become more effective is the work we do. Three big areas of specific interest are deep learning, neural networks and natural-language processing. These abilities are becoming common within off-the-shelf products creating a better user adoption story for integration of these capabilities.
SQL Server is a great example of this where “natural language” queries can be used to retrieve data from line of business applications. The word of warning though is these technologies do require a deeper understanding to implement and often use, and also because of their power can be “too” helpful to the point of users not wanting to use them or it highlights issues within a process.
Take time to evaluate whether this type of technology is beneficial to your organization and useful. As with any technology don’t just implement because it is the new thing.
We all heard of this from movies probably since we were kids, and seen the idea of AI taking over and us as humans being the enemy ☺
This is not the case right now at least, we are talking the ability for solutions to make decisions from learning. This is a great technology that is really still in its infancy but growing with a fast pace. Technologies such as the Microsoft Bot Framework. This is allowing organizations to build solutions that have intelligence and can independently make decisions based on learning, often faster and with much better accuracy than we can as humans.
I know what you are thinking, maybe not implement it, in case we all get replaced with a bot!! Quite the opposite really, utilizing this technology will allow us as businesses to be more strategic and work better as we shift the focus of what we work on, and utilize this type of technology to take on the workloads that don’t require us on them all the time.
Personal Assistance Applications
This one is a favorite of mine as it is the ultimate combination of both “Machine Learning” and “Artificial Intelligence”. What better way to empower your employees, than to offer a service that helps in time management and easier control of important items. Office 365 and Outlook specifically has elements of this. For example, scanning emails for appointments, deliveries and events and auto adding them into the calendar, surely is a quick win that we could all do with. Other apps for example like “boomerang” for Outlook using intelligence to create appointments that fit everyone’s calendar are extremely useful and will allow the workforce including me and you to be better at our work.
Embedded Social Collaboration
This title might seem a little strange, but this simply means, “social capabilities” built-in and being the primary reason for interaction. A great example of this has to be Microsoft Teams, which brings the social element front and center. The logic here is that most of us spend most of time within email and some social tool such as Skype for Business. This means that most of our conversations, collaboration and discussions start from this, not from a document as such.
Making the social solutions the start of collaboration is the most natural process for the work I do for example. ON a daily basis, someone will ask me a question over Skype, which often turns into a Screen share, then inviting others, then sharing of content such as a PowerPoint or document for review, along with comments and discussions the whole time. Solutions like Microsoft Teams brings this front and center. Don’t worry if you are not a Microsoft only organization, there are other vendors doing the same things, bringing these items together. A great one is basecamp for example that combines project work, team working, collaboration, Documents, email, group discussions and private conversations altogether allowing for a very simple and seamless working environment.
This is most definitely one technology to look at now and start to implement as soon as possible to empower your teams.
Function based Systems
Over the past few years, there has been a few platforms available that allow for connecting other devices or software together using a push based approach. Platforms like IFTTT, as well as newer services such as Azure Functions allow for this level of interaction with multiple devices or services. Microsoft invested heavily within the Azure Stack with Azure Functions, as well as within Office 365 with Microsoft Flow. Both of these technologies utilize a common approach where a message is sent to some component that then can interact with other components and services, some outside of the core solution allowing for building of larger platform agnostic services.
These five core technologies will be the basis for many other solutions and technology advancements that will come this year. Expect to see many mobile applications that combine the above components as well as some of the Virtual reality advances that we are now seeing with everything from hardware to software to games.
2017 will truly be a great year of some great technology released for organizations with the sole purpose of making work easier and assist in being more focused