As we approach the end of 2016, let’s take a moment and raise our glasses to the poor saps who, instead of enjoying a nice long holiday, are currently working their collective butts off to get ready for the worst timed show in tech, CES. It will kick off a year that is likely to be full of drama and excitement. While you are getting ready for New Year’s Day, let me share some things that may make that sound like one of the highlights for 2017.
Lots of Big, Honking Drones
Amazon has already begun testing huge drones to deliver packages and we have live tests of drones that will deliver people. Facebook plans to fly 10,000 drones over our heads to provide internet connectivity, and that is on top of the thousands of small satellites that Softbank plans to put up and the heavy balloons that Google will attempt to fly. Now, let’s do the math. This is something like 30,000 devices. If there is only a 1 percent failure rate, which would be pretty good for a new technology, we are talking 300 of those things falling out of the sky in a given year, most of which will be heavy enough and moving fast enough to turn you into human jelly. I’m thinking a new Indiegogo campaign on rapidly deployed bomb shelters might be timely.
Massive Changes in Taxes, Subsidies and Benefits
Love or hate President-elect Donald Trump, he is bringing with him the promise of change at near-apocalyptic levels. We are talking elimination or massive change in the Affordable Care Act, elimination of many existing subsidies, penalties for firms that have and continue to offshore labor, massive regulation changes, and a huge shift in priorities. Many of these may end up being positive, but the poor saps who have to deal with and assure compliance with them will suddenly have a wave of work, and companies that lived off of government waste and subsidies may fail. This is likely a good time to get intimate with how your firm makes money and decide whether the changes represent growth or unemployment, and then act appropriately if your family depends on your income.
Russian Response: More Hacking
The Obama administration is promising to send Russia a message about its hacking and interference in the U.S. presidential election. Russia denies everything and has a tendency to respond and escalate. A number of us believe that the recent massive DoS attack on the Domain Name Servers was just a warning of what was possible and, given that we really haven’t mitigated this exposure, I’d expect a really nasty response from Russia harming any high-profile branded companies’ infrastructure. I doubt it will get to Mad Max levels, but it is likely to get our attention and this will likely happen before Trump takes over, making CES an ideal location for Ground Zero. I’m so glad I’ll be there. I’d LOVE to report from Ground Zero (is it too late to get the flu?).
Wrapping Up: 2017, the Year Everything Changes
In 2017, we will see massive changes in transportation, government, cyber warfare and other areas we aren’t remotely ready for. You know, a Chinese curse says something like “may you live in interesting times,” and it looks like we have been hit by that curse. If you like excitement, 2017 will certainly be the year for you, and we’ll see a ton of advancements in self-driving, virtual reality and mixed reality, and in robotics. Here is my hope we survive that excitement!
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+