AQ77082 (1)2015 was a wild year in technology advancements and decay, and there is no reason to think that 2016 won’t follow suit…

We have seen the biggest tech acquisition in history with Dell snapping up EMC for $67 billion; HP splitting into two companies; Google turning into a subsidiary of Alphabet; and Cisco entering in a new era with Chuck Robbins becoming the new CEO.

Last year we also saw the Tesla model S car drive itself, an ever-growing number of drones in the sky, and SpaceX launch the first reusable rocket into orbital space. We predicted that without apps as part of their IoE strategies, businesses would suffocate from the missed opportunity that mobile offers and Smartphones continued to rule as we spend more and more hours every day with them.

The race to connect the unconnected will continue as well, whether we speak about connecting the next 4 billion people, introducing more wearables, creating body implants or enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), where billions of sensors are changing the way we live our lives. In the coming year, we will continue to march toward IoT with more than 11.5 billion mobile-ready devices and connections – 4 billion more than there were in 2014.

As in years past, we’ve leaned on the Cisco Technology Radar to spot the next innovations that could benefit our customers, challenge the status quo of existing product portfolios or even address technology gaps.

Out of the 15+ trends and 100+ emerging technologies we are currently tracking, we’ve narrowed down the top five trends to watch this year based on our own research as well as data-driven analysis of patent activities, venture capital funding, and interviews with 60 professors at the top 25 universities worldwide.

 Here are our top five Cisco Technology Radar predicted trends for 2016 and beyond:

  1. Companies large and small will come together in the name of IoT

The development of products that support IP, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi interfaces is accelerating, and as we connect those devices to the Internet, opening the door to new use cases and business models. However, smaller IoT deployments, like in connected homes, are still suffering from interoperability issues and lack of consumer confidence in terms of security and privacy. In 2016, we will see companies focus less on trying to become the standard de-facto platform, and more on developing complementary solutions that align with others. This interoperability will allow consumers to more easily build complete secure systems that fit their needs—like combining camera, movement sensors, automation for lights, blinds, smart home appliances and even proactive energy management. The faster we overcome interoperability, security and privacy challenges, the quicker we will be able to enjoy fantastic applications that fully unleash the power of IoT.

  1. Machines will start to learn, and teach us a thing or two in the process

 Advanced Machine Learning is attracting a lot of attention in the venture capital world indicating it will be the hottest Artificial Intelligence (AI) trend of 2016. As a consumer, it is increasingly important to have a human-like connection with technology—ala Netflix or Amazon providing recommendations of future movies to watch and books to purchase based on your past preferences. This is already something we’ve come to expect but what if we extend this type of learning to your car. Imagine if your car could learn from your driving style, identify patterns and automatically play certain music at the right time to enhance your road trip – think Mozart streaming in to calm your nerves as the car anticipates the traffic congestion you’re about to encounter on your evening commute home. In 2016, we will continue to see people increasingly more comfortable with technology helping automate and “virtually assist” in what was once a physical task. As a result, companies will continue to build in machine learning capabilities to make that “smart” car, or refrigerator or even city, a reality.

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality will reach consumers on a mass scale

Natural Interfaces and Augmented Reality (AR) are about to change the way we live, work, play and learn. Juniper Research  suggests the enterprise augmented reality market is set to reach $2.4 billion in next three years, growing tenfold from 2014.

Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Gear VR  HMDs (head-mounted displays) are all expected to hit stores in a few months, and will bring with them a fleet of new immersive experiences. Think of how this will shape the future of communication and storytelling! Using Augmented Reality, suddenly you’re not just reading about the latest space shuttle send off, you’re standing on the platform feeling the rush from the engine, hearing the countdown and experiencing the ground shake as it blasts off – all from the comfort of your own home!

  1. Fog Computing will bring us to the edge

In 2015, we saw Fog computing gain critical momentum in industries such as manufacturing, transportation, retail, and oil and gas. In October, Cisco along with other leaders created the   Open Fog Consortium to foster co-development in the industry and to drive towards interoperability and remove IoT adoption barriers.

In 2016, we will continue to see Fog computing push the benefits of cloud computing to the intelligent network’s edge to address challenges such as low latency, resiliency, and security. We will also continue to see Fog computing applied to enhance our daily experiences such as in smart city deployments. In a smart city, Fog brings compute, storage and networking capabilities to the very most remote devices to improve urban services such as traffic management, smart lighting, security, and parking. Imagine streetlights coming to life as you drive to your downtown parking garage where an application on your phone tells you what parking spots are open and how long it will take you to walk to your final destination. Fog computing brings the necessary resources to the right place to help make this a reality.

  1. Blockchain will go big

Blockchain technology has made a name for itself by enabling Bitcoin cryptocurrency and its payment network. The Blockchain acts as a public database and allows you to store a set of details that include a time, a cryptographic signature linking back to the sender and any type of data. It is an entirely new paradigm to transfer values or ownership including money, property, assets and contracts in a more secure, transparent, auditable and efficient way that is highly resistant to outages.

Blockchain technologies carry the potential to disrupt a variety of industries and focus areas such as financial services, machine-to-machine communication, health records and even corporate audits. For example, in the coming year we can expect to see among other use cases, an explosion of applications that allow consumers to easily and securely rent, sell or share assets using digital contracts. Whether these are cars, bicycles, apartments, the user experience will be greatly simplified and secured. And this is just the beginning…

Happy New Year

IT has already taken on a pervasive role in the world economy, fostering innovation at an incredible pace and into every industry. Technology fuels our lives and continues to take hold and transform areas we never could have imagined.  Because of this, it is hugely important to look around the corner and consider where the IT industry is heading in the near and long term. At Cisco, our Tech Radar team is laser focused on exactly that. We are looking at what matters today, tomorrow and well into the future.

What are your predictions for 2016 and beyond? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.


Stephan Monterde

Director, Corporate Strategic Innovation

Chief Strategy Office