Certainly, the last couple of months of 2016 were particularly hectic. We moved offices, saw new team members join us and we added more services to our portfolio. However, we felt that our first blog of 2017 needed to start with a look forward, not back. So here’s a quick run down on what Dr Logic thinks will be the top tech stories to watch for in 2017!

1. Get ready for new Apple desktops

With the launch of the new MacBooks back in October, it seems a certainty that Apple will update at least some of their desktops during 2017.
We’re expecting to see new and improved versions of the iMac (last updated October 2015). We’re less likely to see updates of the Mac mini and Mac Pro, and some wonder if Apple has given up on the Mac Pro altogether given that it’s been over three years since they refreshed it. Apple CEO Tim Cook has reaffirmed that the desktop is still important to Apple and he’s already made reference to the future of the 5K iMac.

Rumours that the iMac could feature graphics chips from AMD’s Polaris set is the most interesting. The Polaris chips offer improved graphics performance and is more efficient in terms of power use. However, what’s likely to be of greater interest is its potential for use with VR (because at the moment Macs are unusable for VR) not only because of the demand from the gaming market. The potential for using VR in Apple’s heartland of creative users is vast; the ability to bring designs to life through VR in sectors from architecture to retail is going to fundamentally change the way those businesses use development software. So for Apple it’s vital that their machines keep pace with that demand.

2. Move to Cloud-Based Services

More companies are moving their services to the cloud, and this will only accelerate this year. You’re going to see less desktop-based apps and an even greater use of browser-based applications. Lots of our clients are already using cloud-based services for accounting (Xero), email (Google Workspace), messaging (Slack), knowledge management (Guru), HR (BambooHR), telephones and many other services that used run from the office.

For businesses, your internet connection is now as vital as light and power. Thinking about redundancy, having an alternative connection if the main one goes down, should be part of your business continuity arrangements. Drop an email to [email protected] and we can advise you on potential solutions.

3. The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is demonstrating vast potential in tools like Alexa (Amazon’s home assistant). We’ll be hearing much more about AI and machine learning in the move towards driverless cars. Whilst we’ll be keeping an eye on Tesla, it’ll be interesting to see if anyone takes advantage of George Hotz’ comma.ai making some of their self-driving software and hardware open source.

Over the next couple of months, Dr Logic will start incorporating AI and machine learning into our help desk. By recognising patterns in support requests and what solutions were given already, the system starts to learn. So when it spots similar requests, it can offer simple self-service solutions. Of course, you can still have one of our friendly humans get back to you, if you prefer!

4. The Internet of Things (IoT)

From fridges and toasters, thermostats, lights, door locks and even curtains we’re going to see more products being wifi-enabled and hence internet-connected, which means you’ll be able to control more devices from your iPhone than ever before. It’s predicted that there’ll be over 24 billion IoT devices worldwide within 3 years. At CES 2017, the top gadget show, there was a plethora of devices designed to integrate with Alexa – including a robot hoover. The other big trend was in wearables – especially for tracking fitness. And finally, my personal favourite, the Kerastase Hair Coach. This is hairbrush which links to an app, and will assess the condition of your hair as you’re brushing.

We’re also going to see the rise IoT for businesses. A construction company in the US is starting to fit heavy machinery with telematics to retrieve real-time data. From how much fuel is being used, the engine performance and idle time. This will allow them to better plan the use of some of their most expensive assets.

5. Innovation in VR and AR

There’s a massive opportunity, especially for retailers, to take advantage of augmented reality. The possibilities of being able to display virtual objects in the real world on our phones are going to change our lives in a big way. Imagine being able to use maps in the Waitrose app and navigate to the right aisle for Quinoa! Google already offers image search, allowing you to use your camera or an existing image to search and we’re all set to see improvements in the way this works.

For those of you who tuned into the BBC documentary on Venice last night, the virtual 3D VR tour of the Doge’s Palace really brought to life the shape of things to come. For improving navigation (a 3D or VR map of your route), bringing innovation to the hospitality and tourism industry (no more nasty surprises that your room has no windows) and beyond. Architects and Landscape designers will be able to bring their designs to life so a client can walk through their new house and garden. You can check out the invisible Italy 3D/VR tour featured in the BBC programme here.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on all these tech stories throughout the year. Why not tell us what’s of interest to your business for 2017? We’ll be regularly covering tech innovations for SMEs on our blog.