Companies worldwide will spend $3.5 trillion on IT in 2017, market research firm Gartner predicts.
Above all else, companies are expected to increase their spending on software and services (as opposed to hardware), as they all rush to buy their tech via the cloud computing model, where tech is hosted in the vendor's data center and delivered as a service over the internet.
Software spending is projected to be up 6 percent in 2016, and to grow another 7.2 percent in 2017 to a total of $357 billion. Meanwhile, companies will spend $943 billion on IT services, up nearly 5% over 2016 spending levels.
All this means that there are billions of dollars at stake for the rising tech trends, things that emerged within that last few years are ready to take off and become mainstream next year.
Gartner and other market research firms predict the following 9 trends will be the biggies in 2017:
AI and advanced machine learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning became big buzzwords in 2016.
Google and Microsoft added all kinds of AI services to their clouds. Salesforce rolled out a new AI-infused analytics service, and so on. Even startups started putting AI in their apps, too, liketravel site Gogobot.
"The more advanced techniques move beyond traditional rule-based algorithms to create systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously," Gartner says.
Research firm Markets and Markets estimates that the AI market will grow from $420 million in 2014 to $5.05 billion by 2020.
While AI will infuse everything, from cloud services to Internet of Things, there's one area that will really grow intelligent in 2017: virtual assistants.
While Siri, Cortana and Google Now are not exactly new, such services are being stitched into more areas.
For instance, Apple finally opened Siri up to third-party developers in 2016, so you can now tell Siri to send a payment to someone via Venmo. You can use Cortana (via Windows 10) with a bunch of Microsoft Office apps, too.
The global Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) market size is expected to reach USD 12.28 billion by 2024, according to Grand View Research.
The AI world will have a head-on collision with the Internet of Things in 2017, too, Gartner predicts.
IoT is where everyday items get chips or sensors, and apps, and join the internet -; from your car to your toothbrush. It makes total sense that the apps that control IoT devices will also make use of machine learning.
In 2017, watch for devices to start to communicate and help each other make decisions.
"As intelligent things, such as drones, autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, permeate the environment, Gartner anticipates a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a collaborative intelligent things model," Gartner says.
Gartner estimates that six billion connected "things" will be actively requesting support from AI platforms by 2018.
The total IoT market is estimated to grow from $157.05 billion in 2016 to $661.74 billion by 2021, predicts Markets and Markets.
Virtual and augmented reality
You are still hard-pressed to walk into an office and find someone wearing a headset. But VR/AR is a game-changer both for entertainment and for work.
Look for major progress to be made in 2017. Microsoft will be releasing a new HoloLens in 2017, a product always geared toward work. Facebook has previewed work applications with Oculus Rift, and so on.
IDC predicts that worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020.
What do you get when you combine AI, IoT, and VR/AR? A digital twin.
This is a computerized replication of something in the real world generated by sensor data. Digital twins will one way become the de facto way that workers interact with the real devices floating around the real world.
They'll be able to watch IoT objects, diagnose failures, test solutions, even create new products via twins. And you'll start hearing about them more next year, Gartner believes.
It's hard to attach a dollar figure to digital twins yet, but within three to five years, hundreds of millions of things will be represented by digital twins, Gartner says.
Blockchain and distributed ledgers
Remember the big Bitcoin phenom of 2015? It turns out that the coins themselves could be far less valuable than the underlying technology, called blockchain, that created them.
Blockchain is a way of distributing a database across many far-flung computers.
Blockchain can be used to keep track of digital coins, like Bitcoin, and all kinds of other things. Consortiums have sprouted up to create new blockchain apps for the financial industry, for health care, and so on.
Market Reports Hub believes the global blockchain technology market will grow from $210.2 million in 2016 to $2.3 billion by 2021.
There's a chatbot craze going on now right now, letting you interact with all sorts of apps by texting.
Gartner believes that this is but the beginning. Not only will we be texting to apps or speaking to devices (like Amazon's Alexa) who will do tasks for us, but one day all of our intelligent objects will have some form of conversational interface.
We're already seeing signs of that. Even business app giant Oracle is building chat bots for its apps.
One market research firm, TMA Associates, believes that conversational user interfaces will lead to a $600 billion market by 2020.
Mesh app and service architecture
To get all of these devices come online talking to us and to each other, they'll need IT systems that them do this. Enter the "Mesh App and Service Architecture" or MASA.
These will be the IT services and systems that support apps that can talk to each other, work together, learn, collaborate.
There's already been a lot of attention to the early stages of this market. Cisco's Jasper's IoT network, and Salesforce and Microsoft's IoT cloud services are just some examples.
MASA is part of the IoT market that will generate $661.74 billion by 2021, predicts Markets and Markets.
Adaptive Security Architecture
These new smart devices can be used for evil as well as good. We witnessed that last Friday when IoT devices were used to bring down a chunk of the internet.
But soon, these smarter computers and devices will be able to learn and better protect themselves.
Plus, the tools IT security professionals use will also be AI smart. That's the idea behind adaptive security architecture.
Research and Markets predicts adaptive security will become a $7.07 billion market by 2021.