By Liane O’Neill, Junior Account Executive, The Abbi Agency
Self-driving cars share our lanes, virtual reality takes us to a place beyond the present, drones are delivering Slurpees and over-the-counter medicines, Elon Musk and friends have perfected vertical rocket landings. In 2016 incredible technological advancements were made, setting the stage for 2017.
As we close one year and look to another, PR folks scrutinize the future to predict what’s to come as technology, politics and other events mingle to shape the news of tomorrow. In 2017, an uneasy political environment breeds change as healthcare, cyber security and global warming continue to dominate national discussion. According to Gartner, we’re teetering on the point of digital disruption, while Forrester predicts 2017 will be the year of engagement, insight and support technologies. Some commentators continue wait in ghoulish anticipation for the tech bubble to burst, queuing an end to the generous flow of investment that has breathed vitality into the likes of Snapchat and Uber. Here’s what we can expect from 2017:
The Great Immersion into AR/VR
The tech world is just beginning to play with the full capabilities of virtual reality. One headset, one smartphone and, voila!, you may find yourself tipped into the great coral reef, without the downside of water-bogged clothing. While the rudimentary mechanics of virtual reality have been achieved, it’s the visuals and in-depth imagery that we’ll likely see in development in 2017.
Intelligence (and Slurpees) Delivered to your Doorstep
Shifting FAA regulations and investment in R&D from contenders in the drone race will propel regular drone deliveries in the new year. While the Line of Sight rule remains in effect for the foreseeable future, companies like Flirtey are seizing the chance to test market test their products in urban environments—the key to which is advancements in autonomy, the ability for drones to be aware of themselves and changes to their environments, and adjust accordingly.
Chatbots Become Nearly Commonplace
Sophisticated machine learning, hands free devices, and a growth in messaging apps signal that 2017 is the year of the chatbot. Brands have been gearing up to make chatbots mainstream for a variety of purposes: while chatbots like Mitsuku aim to provide human-like companionship and conversation, brands like Sephora are using them to push video tutorials and recommendations to enrich the customer experience. The adaption of chatbots will be the beginning of a greater trend of movement to Conversational UX in the workplace and digital marketplace in 2017.
Telehealth Solutions Ease Election Discontent
Americans are faced with growing uncertainty about changes to healthcare coverage. Yet, the need for Americans to seek out providers and specialists for treatment and everyday care remains a priority. Patients, providers and even employers will be looking to big data solutions to bridge gap in healthcare quality and ensure peace of mind. The use of big data and advanced algorithms will enable companies, like Grand Rounds, to connect patients with specialists in their area and across the country for the right diagnosis and prescribed course of action. Greater access to apps and digital tools are also likely to result in greater healthcare literacy among patients.
For the latest emerging tech trends, PR folks must do their own due diligence to keep a finger on the pulse of the very publications we pitch. Whether this is the age of Digital Disruption, or something else entirely, agility and responsiveness are what will set your technology client’s public perception apart from the rest in 2017.
Liane O’Neill is a Junior Account Executive at The Abbi Agency in Reno, Nevada.