Disruption was the buzzword of 2016. It seems like every industry is facing disruption through technology, as the world around us becomes increasingly digitized.
I believe that 2016 just showed us a glimpse into what is possible through technology. Within 2017, many more industries will be disrupted as technology such as AI and 3D printing become more commonplace.
Here's where I see disruptive trends heading in 2017:
We'll remember 2017 as the year when robots ran the world. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already showed us what is possible with artificial intelligence, as he took this year to code a virtual assistant for his house.
While having AI make sure we turned the oven off before we leave the house might be a couple years away for most of us, there's no doubt the technology will change our lives in 2017.
Gartner recently pointed to AI and machine learning as two disruptive trends on 2017. As more people embrace devices such as Amazon's Alexa and Google's AI technology, an increasing amount of manual processes will become automated. With machine learning, soon these devices will know exactly how you like your coffee and what music you'd like to wake up to.
The rise of AI in 2017 will definitely lead to a boost in automation. Uber has already started the trend, moving toward driverless vehicles.
In this upcoming year, we'll likely see more and more menial tasks shifted to automation. The technology will continue to evolve so automation goes beyond marketing and self-driving cars. We'll see more practical in-home and in-office uses of automation in 2017, boosting productivity by allowing people to focus on big-picture ideas instead of getting bogged down.
Robotics and AI will continue to reach new heights -- even going deeper into content generation and other tasks performed primarily by humans.
There's a lot of competition in this market, but not enough collaboration to truly scale automation. Automation is still a Jetsons-era fantasy for most, but that will change in a year's time. In 2017, we'll start to hear the phrase, "The Uber of _______" even more.
Internet of Everything
Hopefully this will be the year where everything becomes connected. Your Nest thermostat could connect with your Fitbit or Apple Watch. Knowing that you're coming back from an intense run on a hot day, it'll ensure you walk into a nice, cool house. When you start to run low on Gatorade, your smart fridge can alert Amazon's Alexa to order a new case.
If 2016 was the year that the Internet of Things became a realistic goal, 2017 will be the year that the Internet of Everything starts to take over.
With this connectivity also comes big data. You already rely on analytics for your business, but now you'll have a deeper level of personal analytics, allowing you to optimize your personal life.
Once a punchline, VR is becoming our new reality. Samsung went all-out this holiday, pitching Samsung Gear VR as the hot gift to give. Google and Facebook have made significant leaps to restore the perception of virtual reality from a hokey 90s trend into a new environment.
There are so many practical uses for virtual reality. Say your team is spread across the globe. Using VR headsets, you can still hold face-to-face meetings in the boardroom (or the Bahamas -- whichever background you pick).
VR really strengthened in 2016, but I see 2017 as the big year for it. Now that VR has scaled enough to get into your average household, the possibilities are endless. This is a new content delivery system that businesses of all sizes need to tap into now.
As natural resources become more scarce, I really expect 3D printing to get a more serious look in 2017. 3D printing can truly change vital fields such as construction and health care for the better, automating processes that used to be cumbersome.
Companies are already using 3D printing to produce car parts, hearing aids and implants. According to PwC, 51 percent of American manufacturers have already incorporated 3D printing somewhere into their process.
The U.S. market for 3D printing is expected to hit $30.19 billion by 2022, and I feel that could even be a conservative estimate. More companies will realize the power that comes with 3D printing in 2017, relying on it to produce materials.
Biometrics & Digital ID
It might sound like something out of Black Mirror, but we're moving toward a future where your personal information -- driver's license number, Social Security number, credit cards -- will be biometrically stored.
Apple has already started the process, allowing you to unlock your iPhone with your thumbprint, but by the end of 2017, I expect biometric identification to take hold in other areas. We're not too far off from having a thumbprint scanner at Starbucks, linking to your gold card account.
Even if a true biometric payment system is far away, expect to see more processes shift from physical identification to digital. Most of us have "wallets" in our phones, and you can use your phone in lieu of your credit card at many places all over the country.