Specialists at SAP Predict Five Digital Trends for 2017

Now that 2016 has come and gone several experts at SAP are foreseeing a handful of trends that enterprises need to watch out for as 2017 unfolds.

The experts at SAP include Dan Wellers, global Lead of digital futures at SAP, Michael Rander, research director, future of work at SAP, Kai Göerlich, research director of IoT, supplier networks, and digital futures at SAP, Josh Waddell, global vice president, mobile innovation center at SAP, and Saravana Chandran senior director, advanced analytics at SAP.

They offered up five predictions for 2017 that include immersive experiences, blockchains, application programming interfaces, the gig economy, and rise of the cyborg.

Immersive experiences is on the rise as evidenced by the enormous popularity of Pokémon Go. While the hype may have come and gone, the immersive technologies that have been quietly advancing in the background for years are ready to boil over into the big time—and into the enterprise.

Blockchains, the decentralized digital ledgers of transactions that are processed by a distributed network, first made headlines as the foundation for new types of financial transactions beginning with Bitcoin in 2009. According to Greenwich Associates, financial and technology companies will invest an estimated $1 billion in blockchain technology in 2016. But, as Gartner recently pointed out, there could be even more rapid evolution and acceptance in the areas of manufacturing, government, healthcare, and education.

Application programming interfaces (APIs), the computer codes that serve as a bridge between software applications, are not traditionally a hot topic outside of coder circles. But they are critical components in much of the consumer technology we’ve all come to rely on day-to-day.

The gig economy: In June, Swiss citizens voted on a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for all of its citizens, as reported by BBC News. It was the first country to take the issue to the polls, but it won’t be the last. Discussions about the impact of both automation and the advancing gig economy on individual livelihoods are happening around the world. Other countries—including the United States—are looking at solutions to the problem. Both Finland and the Netherlands have universal guaranteed income pilots planned for next year.

Rise of the cyborg: What seems straightforward on the surface is powered by a sophisticated algorithm that can analyze the vast amounts of data the man’s brain produces, separating important signals from noise. The fact that engineers have begun to unlock the complex code that controls brain-body communication opens up enormous possibilities. Neural prostheses (cochlear implants) have already reversed hearing loss. Light-sensitive chips serving as artificial retinas are showing progress in restoring vision. Other researchers are exploring computer implants that can read human thoughts directly to signal an external computer to help people speak or move in new ways.