2015 tech predictions: how did the experts do?
2015 is receding in our rearview, and as we get wrapped up in the toils and triumphs of a new year, it can be hard to stop and reflect on where we are. How about reflecting on where we were supposed to be? Whether you work in tech or tuna fishing, your network is probably abuzz with predictions every year. Making predictions is fun—and so is following up on the bold predictions of the past.
In checking back on some of the crystal balls from 2015, I don’t mean to discourage anyone from going out on a limb for 2016 or 2017; nothing is more boring than predictions like “Amazon isn’t going anywhere” or “even more people will use mobile devices for even more stuff than last year!”
The death of digital
“I believe 2015 will be the year that the word digital dies in our professional lives,” said Dave Coplin, Microsoft’s chief envisioning officer. Coplin’s heart was in the right place; each year, we like to imagine that buzzwords will fade or regain meaning. “Digital has become the working equivalent of breathing – we don’t think about it, we just do it,” he explained. But the word “digital” and the idea of “going digital” are obviously still alive and well.
But what’s in a word? Coplin was right on target in talking about the bigger picture: “The key point is that our definition of productivity is changing and technology is at the very core of this fundamental shift.”
Super Hire-io Brothers
Numerous years in the last decade have been dubbed “the year of gamification,” and gamification has made a real impact on how (some) businesses and even local governments design products/plans and think about their customers/constituents. Some people even claim that there are business and collaboration lessons to be gleaned from mainstream games like Fallout 4.
Not quite hitting critical mass, though, was this prediction featured in Wired: “To save time during the hiring process in 2015, more companies will turn to video games to evaluate job candidate nuances such as creativity, problem solving, and collaboration. Candidates’ game scores will be measured against scores of successful employees, making hard data — alongside subjective opinions from hiring managers — an asset to predict success.”
Lots of pundits overestimated the saturation of 3D printers and smart technology; virtual reality is poised to sit on this throne in 2016.
“There may not be a 3D printer in every home, but by the end of the year you’ll likely know at least one person who owns one,” the PC Mag staff told me at the start of ’15. My printer-less friends, alas, let me down. The tipping point for 3D cameras that some foresaw didn’t quite come to fruition, although we may be getting close.
Smart toasters, smart showers, smart…
Forget tech-driven personal assistants that obey our every command; the next step will be for our technology to anticipate our next move. But 2015 didn’t quite get there.
“Anticipatory computing became more of a thing in 2015. But it still hasn’t become mainstream,” said Elise Hu.
Gardens and robots for all!
“Everyone will grow their own organic lettuce and trade it on a local social network for other types of vegetables,” said one prediction. Everyone? Maybe not quite yet. Wait, am I the only one here not growing and trading his own lettuce?
The same article advised you, when 2015 rolled around, to not “be surprised to come home to a robot cooking pizza from original Italian recipes available on the Internet.” I would be so surprised.
Comeuppance in the Valley
“My big prediction was that the tech bubble would pop, and we would see ‘paper fortunes wiped out overnight, (and) the smug bratty tech pricks going back to work as baristas.’ Yes, some formerly high-flying companies have been crammed down, but from what I can tell here in my comfy office in a suburb of Boston, there isn’t much blood in the water,” said Silicon Valley writer and “Fake Steve Jobs” Dan Lyons.
But don’t get cocky, tech bros. Lyons may be vindicated in 2016. “This coming year will be when many winners and losers in startups are sorted to their proper places.” wrote WSJ‘s Christopher Mims. “…Whole sectors are ripe for flameouts and consolidation, like food delivery, ad tech and fintech, or financial technology.”