Last year was a ground-breaking year for technological innovation with several advancements in medicine, the automotive industry and mobile/handheld technology. So, how will 2016 follow up with advancements in technology?
1. Cyber Security - As the world of technology evolves at a ground breaking pace the demand for IT professionals' increases in parallel. However Cyber Security has lacked massively behind and now there is a huge skills gap. The demand for Cyber security knowledge and products will grow significantly in 2016 to protect citizens and the national interest. Public sector will invest much more over the next five years in online security law enforcement and intelligence and especially at a national level where governments and terrorists see digital hostile opportunities.
2. Health and technology converge - Apple has been hiring senior medical professionals and those with expertise in medical sensor technology. Health, fitness, and medical care have caught the eye of major technology companies including Apple, Samsung and Google. Products such as smart-phones or watches will increasingly be able to analyse everything from blood-sugar levels to heart rate. Additionally Google is pumping millions into early stage health detection.
3. Home appliances - Increasingly in 2016 these will be controlled by your phone or other similar devices such as mobile keypads. This could include switching the oven on so your dinner is ready when you get home, controlling your heating so you don't waste money on your energy bills, light switches etc. This isn't new technology at all - it is the implementation that has been slow to date. This will be supplemented by voice controls across the house to create actions. Back to the future is becoming reality! Nest Labs is a home automation company that designs and manufactures sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled, self-learning, programmable thermostats and smoke detectors. This was bought by Google for over $3 billion dollars.
4. Education - After the horse has bolted, but never too late the education system is beginning to realise the opportunity of IT - for future careers and to help the UK be at the forefront of economic growth. Coding is going to be more beneficial to Latin and it is not only teaching the skills and providing strong career advice to older students about the technology opportunities. Graduate vacancies in IT are up over 50% in the last five years however applications for Computer Science are static - therefore teaching IT in schools will see a dramatic emphasis shift.
5. 3D printing - This is evolving from a new and much-hyped, but largely unproven, manufacturing process to a technology with the ability to produce real, innovative, complex and robust products. 3D printing essentially creates three-dimensional solid objects from digital models. Expect the cost to come down for 3D printers dramatically in 2016.
6. Drone technology - Will governments embrace Drone technology? The technology is being tested by many companies including Google and Amazon. Commercially there is no permission from Governments to use this technology especially in built up areas. But clearly for deliveries - whether it is products from Amazon to fertilising crops will the commercial use of drones take a step forward in 2016?
7. Battery technology - Battery tech is a limiting factor in the design of many of today's technologies. Whilst consumer electronics and mobile telephone technology evolve annually the power that feeds them doesn't seem to. Therefore the race is on for batteries that need small charging time and lasts for much longer. Specifically will we see a replacement for lithium-ion batteries? Many companies are racing to mass produce new and more effective batteries.
8. Commute times not mileage - Many search engines, whether on websites or on apps, provide results based on mileage. This will evolve to commute time. If you are looking at a store finder for your favourite brand, looking for a take-away or indeed searching for a job online, mileage is often misleading relative to time taken. With the knowledge of commute times by car and on public transport or walking, as we see on Google Maps and provided by other suppliers this technology will be incorporated into everyday online searches.
9. Google Glass - Much hyped and much talked about some analysts a forecasting a huge consumer market for these products worth billions in the years ahead. Despite a short term withdrawal from the market they will return initially targeting the business market.
10. Cloud and Mobile Computing - The convergence of cloud and mobile computing for consumers will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. Synchronising content and applications across multiple devices will evolve. Applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices. The mobile cloud will allow you to access documents and upload/attach documents on the move.
One thing many of the above have in common is that there are massive investments by big tech companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon in so many different tech areas. They want to develop and own new growth technology sectors. Where they don't have the technology or are not first movers, they purchase start-ups that offer a short circuit into these new potential sectors. The other common thread with the above predictions is that developing new technology is massively in demand as well as delivering existing consumer and B2B digital demand. It is important in the UK that this can be delivered by those with the appropriate skills and that a skills gap does not drive investment overseas.
All of this means an exciting time for the IT jobs market with forecasts of a 22% increase in IT jobs vacancies by 2020.