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What's Hot in Tech: AI Tops the List

IT Trends - 2017The editorial team here at QuinStreet Enterprise recently met to discuss information technology (IT) trends for 2017, and the one thing we agreed on is that artificial intelligence (AI) has surpassed issues like Big Data and the cloud as the hottest thing in IT.

As Datamation editor James Maguire put it, "AI is now the biggest big thing."

Like everything in technology, AI touches on so many other trends, like self-driving cars and automation, and Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are certainly part of it too. And concerns about the future of work in an increasingly automated world are very much at the heart of the issue.

Eileen Feretic, editorial director of our ZDE network of sites, which includes eWeek, CIO Insight, Baseline and Channel Insider, said AI was a big theme at a recent Gartner conference, with voice-first systems, smart agents that could replace mobile apps and behavioral algorithms among the emerging technologies. Self-learning apps could become like a personal assistant, she said, but noted they could lead to job loss too.

eWeek Editor in Chief John Pallatto said "there's no question AI will have an impact," but he cautioned that in some cases it may be marketing hype for what is simply a refresh of an old product.

Jeff Burt, an eWeek senior editor who covers networking and other data center technologies, noted that machine learning could "really accelerate the development of AI" as programs and machines begin to learn on their own.

But as artificial intelligence is increasingly built into everything from personal devices, homes and cars to airplanes, security issues will become critical even as comprehensive security solutions remain elusive. "To be really technical about it, it creeps me out," said Lauren Simonds, editor of Small Business Computing.

Other trends: New mobile competitors, Blockchain and hyperconvergence

Todd Weiss, an eWeek senior writer who covers mobile issues, said the smartphone market could be reshaped and new players emerge, thanks to interesting products like the HP Elite x3 and the Kodak Ektra and the rise of Chinese smartphone makers.

Weiss said Apple could get a boost in enterprises, thanks to reports that IBM has more than 100,000 Apple devices under management and claims that Macs save hundreds of dollars over a PC over the life of the device.

Blockchain is another technology that’s generating a lot of buzz. eWeek senior editor Chris Preimesberger said the secure transaction tracking technology could really take off if it expands from the financial services industry to cover all transactions.

Hyperconvergence is an area experiencing real growth, noted Burt, with some analysts predicting that the market will double annually for the foreseeable future.

Security will once again be an important issue, QuinStreet Enterprise editors predict, but for the wrong reasons. Pallatto wondered if DDoS attacks could render the "internet unusable," with "daily weather reports of outages like weather reports."

The long-running trend of media mergers and concentration may move to the forefront, as companies seek to control both pipes and content, with the AT&T-Time Warner deal the catalyst for debate.

And the Dell-EMC merger also generated discussion here, with a focus on storage. Will EMC adopt a softer sales strategy like Dell, or will the storage business drive the rest of the company? Stay tuned. 2017 promises to be an interesting year.

Paul Shread is editorial director of the IT Business Edge network of sites, which includes IT Business Edge, Webopedia, Datamation and other tech journalism sites.

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