2016: A Look Ahead

An article written by: David Tan, Chief Technology Officer, CHIPS Technology Group

It has become a tradition that every January, we put together some thoughts on the trends and technologies we expect to see emerge in the coming years and beyond. It’s our way of getting ourselves and all our clients and friends to think about where they should be making technology decisions and investments, but more importantly how they should be planning business strategies and innovations. We try to straddle between specific products (last year we talked a lot about Windows 10 for example) and over-arching technologies – you’ve probably read on more than a few occasions about the cloud in this space. This year, I think we’re going to talk exclusively about technology trends, and save specific products for future discussions. There are just way too many exciting things happening in this space to spend any time talking about things like the next version of Windows Server!

Virtual Reality

When you see companies like Microsoft, Sony, Facebook, HTC, Samsung and many more spending billions collectively in research and development, that’s a trend worth watching! Oculus Rift (Facebook) and Microsoft’s HoloLens product are already in the hands of developers and early adopters, so the wave of products can’t be far behind. This type of technology has been talked about for years and it has finally advanced beyond a novelty. Sure, gaming will be one of the first major frontiers, but there are serious applications being built in education, healthcare, hospitality and more. This is a technology that every business in every industry needs to at least be thinking about.


I have probably mentioned my opinion on the future of computers you “wear” more than a few times. The launch of the Apple Watch in 2015 was hugely successful compared to analyst’s estimates, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. You will soon have computers in your clothes, your shoes, your glasses and anywhere else we can optimize and analyze data. This will help foster evolutionary advances in everything from healthcare to fitness to transportation. It is a quickly emerging space and a place to keep a very close eye on.

Robots and Drones

I chose to lump these together as they are very related. Business is all about working smarter and faster and what better way to do that than robots! For years people have been worried about robots taking their jobs, and it may be happening, but believe it or not, that’s a good thing! Robots are poised to replace roughly 7 million humans performing administrative jobs in the next 5 years according to a World Economic Forum report. This will however create millions of jobs in areas like computing, engineering, math, and architecture. Robots will make dramatic impacts in everything from healthcare to energy, to manufacturing and finance. Just a few weeks ago, Japanese company Softbank announced their new robot Pepper, powered by IBM Watson that can work and interact like a human. While we may not be in the age of the Jetsons and their robot maid, we are getting closer every day.

Artificial Intelligence

I saved my favorite for last. Don’t think of AI the way we used to. We are not talking about Skynet and the computers rising up. AI is now more about technologies like machine learning, where computers spot trends and adjust accordingly, or natural language processing where a computer can understand real language questions and respond. In other words, Artificial Intelligence is essentially “artificial” but it’s just as powerful as you can imagine. Let me give you a quick example.

A few years ago, the Associated Press issued about 300 financial reports on public companies a quarter. It was a time consuming process that required a reporter to gather all the data and write the story, so they focused on covering just the biggest companies. Recently, they started using an AI platform that is capable of replacing this human task. By just looking at raw financial data, it can create the same exact type of financial report a human reporter was creating, except they can now do it for 3000 companies a quarter, 10 times what the reporter could. And you would never be able to tell the difference. That is Artificial Intelligence.

Many people think future technologies come in one big influx that completely changes the way we live. You are not going to wake up tomorrow with a flying car and a robot butler. Small, important changes happen over time to drastically change the way we live and work. We are seeing many of those changes happen right before our eyes. If you want to continue to survive and thrive in new technological times, you need to understand and embrace these changes. The future is upon us. Sure the new version of Windows or Office are great, but it’s these big picture technologies that will drive productivity and profitability for the next generation and beyond. Embrace them now while we are all still learning what is possible together.