When I saw a drone fly over my backyard fence and land on our lawn the day after Christmas, I was reminded of tech predications of years past. Will this be the year that Amazon delivers via drone as Jeff Bezos promised on 60 Minutes in 2014, or will a mass adoption of Netflix socks surprise us all?

While there are many predictions about what will happen in the world of technology in 2016, experts seems to agree that the following 9 trends in technology are the ones to watch:

  1. Data Analytics, one of the fastest growing technology trends in 2015 will continue to build momentum.   According to Deloitte Analytics’ recent report, Analytics Trends 2015: A Below-the-Surface Look. “Put simply, analytics is becoming both the air that we breathe — and the ocean in which we swim,” the report says. Creating new ways to access data to do work within mobile devices will be what organizations will be looking to discover this year. Already, data analytics and data integration solutions companies are providing a means for users to create dashboards with visualization and to perform advanced analytics on mobile devices. This is the year of self-service and democratization and this trend will grow as data analytics and data integration services become a responsibility for more and more employees within a firm.
  1. Tablets, laptops and desktops will continue to converge.

Smartphones are probably the most important personal devices we own these days. There’s nothing else quite like them. But all the other computers that don’t fit in our pockets — desktops, laptops, tablets and hybrids — are all beginning to converge.

This year, we saw Microsoft put Windows 10 in all sorts of devices: tablets that convert into laptops, laptops that convert into tablets, smartphones that turn monitors into full PCs — even the Xbox One is now powered by Windows 10. Both Apple and Google have followed Microsoft’s lead, building tablet-laptop hybrids that run their mobile operating systems. But while critics are lukewarm on Apple’s iPad Pro and Google’s Pixel C tablet, the important trend to note is that Apple, Google and Microsoft all want to make their mobile offerings more functional for both work and play, as a way of appealing to the mobile-first culture.

  1. Virtual Reality will become more real. The next generation of immersive reality devices from companies like Facebook, Sony and Microsoft are among the most highly anticipated devices of next year. Businesses ranging from fashion to film are considering the possibilities of the advancing technology. According to a recent study by the Topology Research Institute, a division of research firm TrendForce, virtual-reality device sales will hit 14 million units worldwide in 2016. The firm expects sales to rise to 18 million units in 2017 and 22 million by the end of 2018.
  1. The Internet of Things is going to reshape the B2B marketing landscape

Beyond controlling your thermostat from your smartphone, expect your electronics to begin talking to one another to learn your habits and automate things around the house for you. With their traditional product lines under pressure from cloud-based upstarts, some of Silicon Valley’s legacy tech giants are looking at the Internet of Things to increase their bottom lines.

Business-to-business applications and data center technology are likely to dwarf the consumer side in the revenue they generate. The potential economic impact of the IoT was estimated at $11.1 trillion per year in 2025 by global consulting firm McKinsey in a 2015 report. The firm said that business-to-business applications will create more value than purely consumer applications. 

“While consumer applications such as fitness monitors and self-driving cars attract the most attention and can create significant value, we estimated that B2B uses can generate nearly 70 percent of potential value enabled by IoT,” McKinsey said. Key areas requiring development include energy-efficient sensing and computing; security and safety; memory technology to handle an explosion of storage requirements, and insight computing that will require research in fields such as machine learning and data analytics.

  1. Siri and Cortana will become smarter.

Google has been constantly improving its machine learning algorithms to make Google Now smarter. This year, the search giant introduced Now On Tap, which scans anything on your phone’s screen and provides relevant information about what it detects. It’s far from perfect but it’s only a matter of time before it becomes indispensable. These virtual assistants will not only get smarter on our phones, but on wrists as well. Since smart watches are powered by our phones, the smarter our phones get, the smarter our watches get too. Look forward to speaking to your phone like an actual human being and having it understand what you say in any language that you speak.

  1. Messaging app Slack often referred to as world’s fastest growing start-up and “the messaging app for teams that put robots on Mars”, will go mainstream. Launched in February 2014, it claims to have 2 million daily active users, including 570,000 paid accounts. The popular chat and collaboration service, plans to launch a new version aimed at the enterprise in early 2016. The service will include features such as unified security and administration as well as give business customers the ability to combine groups of users within an organization, according to its website.
  1. Information of Everything

According to Gartner, by 2020, 25 billion devices will be generating data about almost every topic imaginable. This is equal parts opportunity and challenge.  There will be a plethora of data, but making sense of it will be the trick. Those companies that harness the power of this tidal wave of information will leapfrog competitors in the process.

  1. The hybrid cloud will get the traction it deserves

Companies will move to hybrid cloud solutions.

IT leaders are making a rapid shift in the direction of public cloud by adopting hybrid cloud. The combination of private and public cloud gives IT the tools required to help the business innovate and iterate faster at a lower cost while also maintaining controls on security and performance.

  1. Apache Spark will leap ahead of Hadoop

Big Data frameworks Hadoop and Spark provide some of the most popular tools used to carry out common Big Data-related tasks. “What really gives Spark the edge over Hadoop is speed”, says Bernard Marr, author of Big Data‘ ‘Key Business Analytics‘ “Spark handles most of its operations “in memory” – copying them from the distributed physical storage into far faster logical RAM memory. This reduces the amount of time consuming writing and reading to and from slow, clunky mechanical hard drives that needs to be done under Hadoop’s MapReduce system.”

Cloudera and IBM have enthusiastically adopted Spark, and Amazon, Google, and Microsoft offer Spark as a service in their public clouds. Spark has its drawbacks, to be sure, including memory issues and quirky errors, but it’s expected that those problems and others will be addressed and solved in 2016.

In case you wondered about the drone that landed in our backyard, it’s 12-year old owner put flyers in all of the mailboxes on our street, even offering a reward, which, of course, was the smile on his face when he came by to retrieve it.

What are your predications for 2016?