Final predictions for 2017

/;A Compilation of Additional Tech Developments in 2017

This Insights article focuses on likely tech development projected for 2017 that I haven’t yet discussed in recent end-of-year Insights posts. They’re a balance of good, bad and indifferent, not remotely as negative as the expected political/social/environment changes on the horizon.

It’s a popular social media meme that ‘2016 was the worst year ever.’ Of course, whether you feel that way or not correlates with your individual political-cultural leanings. –Many historians point to years that were a lot worse: e.g., 2001 (9/11); 1968–assassinations, riots, and political turmoil, the Great Depression years; the horrors of the Civil War; WWs II and I.

Bottom line — many of the challenges of 2016 will escalate in the coming year along with some entirely new ones. This will include a continuing, a growing gap between rich and poor, the slowing of economic/cultural globalism, the worst refugee crisis since WW II, intense political infighting in the U.S. and Europe, escalating effects from global climate change, as well as lone wolf and other forms of localized, hard-to-prevent terrorism. Finally, amidst such uncertainty, there is an increasing probability of leaders making bad decisions that could trigger still more unexpected/pointless military conflicts, more damaging cyberattacks, and a greater likelihood of an economic recession (already overdue according to the average length of years between economic declines).

Tech development to expect

  • The Internet Will Get Some Overdue Fixes.

Most of us rely on the internet to meet a wide range of vital needs. Anything that threatens the safety and integrity of our lives online is unacceptable. In the past few months, the biggest social media players have taken initial steps to censor fake and misleading news. In 2017, many are hoping for wider-ranging fixes to the long-standing problems of hacking, malware, clickbait, spamming, cyberbullying, and trolling—consistent with the encouragement of more civil discourse. This can’t/won’t happen within the span of a year. We need to do all we can to encourage social media and other internet stakeholders to move aggressively in this direction.

  • Privacy Wars Are Just Beginning

Britain’s government recently passed a new national cyber security bill that essentially eliminates the right of internet privacy for its citizens. The measure is even more sweeping than many of those already in place in non-democratic authoritarian countries. We may experience a similar move towards tighter restrictions on privacy in the U.S., especially if/when we have another major terrorist attack. Silicon Valley executives will fight such legislation or any under-the-radar incursion measures because. This is because they rely on the integrity of their devices’ encryption to sell products and because they align with other pro-privacy rights political forces. If such a law were passed or illegal government incursions become more common, expect Big Tech to counter with still more sophisticated encryption security systems, resulting in an escalating battle with the government.

  • Global Brands Will Meet Greater Regional Resistance

As globalism declines and regional markets increase, regional products will gain strength. Marketers need to understand that local populations increasingly resonate with marketing messages pitched to their cultural heritage, sense of nationalism, and ethnic pride.

  • As Social Trust Declines, Workers Will Seek Refuge with Family and Friendly Work Environments

To date, there has been a steady, incremental increase in workers working from home. This trend may accelerate in 2017, however, primarily because of our growing political divide in the U.S. People will be looking to escape from individual and collective/internet sources that trigger their anger and insecurity.

Traditionally, the family can be a place of refuge from what people perceive as a hostile world. Traditional cultures see it this way. A friendly work environment can do the same. It’s unlikely, of course, that we could return to the multi-generational extended family environments of past generations. At the same time, as the proportion of single-family households grows, it’s likely that more socially isolated individuals will reach out to online political movements that allow in-person local participation.

Next, I’ll discuss predictions of a coming shortage of construction industry workers, the growing role of corporate giants in promoting positive social change, internet-based medical industry treatment innovations, and professional credibility increasingly based more on proven skills than formal education.

A compilation of additional developments in 2017

So far, I discussed sweeping social changes that now threaten to stall (perhaps end) two centuries of global progress in reducing poverty, improving health, spreading democracy, and advancing literacy/basic education.

Since its founding, U.S. citizens have expected their ‘life chances’ in these and other areas to improve from generation to generation. –Unfortunately, in the past few decades, there has been a decline in upward social mobility, including job opportunities, real income, the cost of higher education and other quality of life indicators.

Western electorates are expressing their frustration and anger about these developments by voting for anti-establishment candidates. How all this will play out in the longer term is a continual source of uncertainty and intense debate.

Pay close attention this coming year to the following social/business change agents. Doing so will help you leverage beneficial tech advancements while at the same time adapting to the forces of accelerating political and economic disruption.

Negative changes resulting from political disruption

  • Economic Volatility Will Increase
    If financial instability results from new trade and economic policies in the West, prepare for the possibility of even slower growth, even decline. Expect financial instability if long-standing global measures suppressing economic volatility are lifted.
  • An Entirely New Political Culture Is Emerging
    In the leadership realm, Trump’s groundbreaking success as a mediagenic figure rising to the Presidency against all expectations is setting an entirely new role model for future political leaders. The same dynamic is playing out in other parts of the world.
  • Stress-Related Physical/Mental Illnesses Will Rise
    Uncertainty and disruptive change will contribute to higher levels of stress among employees. According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of the post-election U.S. population reports high levels of stress based on fears about the future. Higher stress levels contribute directly to higher rates of physical and mental illness.

Positive changes coming from tech innovation

  • Tech Venture Capital Will Spur Business Growth in the U.S. Heartland
    The recent election results underscore that tech-based economic growth has been primarily limited to the East and West Coasts. This will begin to change in 2017 as venture capitalists begin to create greater tech job opportunities in ‘flyover’ parts of the nation. Entrepreneurs seize opportunity within the growing tech-based revolutions in healthcare, education and agriculture. All levels of Tech-skilled workers will be needed to fulfill this potential in different regions of the country. Healthcare delivery, for example, will improve with cost-cutting, decentralized digital breakthroughs including new portable diagnostic device apps, advances in genome-based medicine and other patient-centered innovations.
  • Demand for Infrastructure Construction Workers Will Exceed Supply
    If we finally see significant government investment our infrastructure, there won’t be enough skilled construction workers to meet demand. There’s already a shortage now. Another major obstacle to repairing our infrastructure is the many levels of planning and approval now required to begin major public work projects. This will have to change.
  • Expect Business to Shift to CX (Customer Experience) away from UX (User Experience)
    CX includes more than UX because it encompasses everything about the customer’s experience from advertising to product/service delivery satisfaction monitoring. Tech companies are expanding their scope of service and developing new algorithms to accommodate this change.

Many other developments will come into play that I hope to discuss in detail next year. A few of them include–

  • A growing push for the private sector, big corporations, in particular, to invest in positive social/political/environmental change. The government is no longer able to bear the costs and lacks the political will to follow through in these areas.
  • The rising popularity of Virtual Reality devices will bring more POV (Point of View) simulations that work to create greater empathy between all categories of demographic differences, e.g., gender, age, and socio/cultural background.
  • Streaming Music Platforms like Spotify will take the place of music Labels. They’ll search out and cultivate their own talent, just as Netflix and Amazon have done with new, award-winning TV programming.
  • More primary and secondary schools will require coding skills classes in parallel with the long-standing tradition of having students take intro typing classes.