From the emergence of the collaboration tool Slack, to Immune Engineering, 2016 was another big year for the tech industry.

So what will 2017 bring? There has been a lot of speculation about what to expect in the coming 12 months, with experts predicting everything from a rise in second-hand trading, to increased demand for customisable mattresses

After reading dozens of tech predictions, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular and intriguing predictions of 2017:

Self-driving data centers will emerge

Automation in 2017 will not be limited to self-driving cars. Gartnerestimates Data Center spending will increase $4 billion this year to $177 billion, where self-driving and self-healing technologies will simultaneously increase productivity and improve response to outages.

With all elements of the infrastructure, including networking and storage now virtualized, analysts predict that 75% of enterprises will have more than four diverse automation technologies within their IT management portfolios. With the right orchestration and management tools, this means operators can completely automate new rollouts or make changes to existing infrastructure.

Augmented reality (AR) could trump virtual reality (VR)

While 2016 was a good year for both VR and AR, it is predicted that AR will surpass the success of VR this year.

This year we’ll see the first quality VR through new hardware such as Oculus and PlayStation VR. Despite this, the reach and applications will be limited to those who have access to these devices.  On the other hand, AR will most likely receive widespread adoption, with mobile phone usage increasing to over 15.3 million users in Australia alone.

With over 4.6 billion global mobile phone users, its likely usage is only going to keep growing. AR-powered cameras on mobile phones will power applications such as image filtering, mapmaking and virtual tours, making it an accessible new software.

Security will shift from defensive to predictive AI-powered security

All things AI have been making prediction lists for years, and 2017 is no exception.

While many companies claim to leverage advanced security techniques, most of those technologies are still static when it comes to detecting and defending against cyber-attacks.

Fortune predicts that the next era of security companies will ‘realize the promise of AI methods — without limits’. These innovative companies will be able fight the newest breed of data breaches, phishing and ransomware, where AI will be the center of their success.

Robots and Virtual Assistants in Business 

According to Grand View Research, The global virtual assistant market is projected to exceed US$12.28 billion by 2024.

While not exactly new, assistants Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana have become increasingly useful at home, at work and in the car.

Last year Apple opened Siri up to third-part developers, so users can now tell Siri to send a payment to someone via Venmo. In addition, Microsoft’s Cortana can now be used with bunch of Microsoft Office apps.

While AI will infuse everything from cloud services to the Internet of Things, its predicted that individuals as well as retail, medical, enterprise and industrial use cases will increase in the coming years with productivity and efficiency as the drivers.

Overall, 2017 will be an exciting year to see what happens with emerging technologies that are just taking off and impacting traditional sectors. It’s going to be an interesting year for tech!

Hayden McMaster