The New Year will be marked by the growth of smart applications – such as chatbots, machine learning and other AI tools –which bridge the gap between humans and computers. Such applications will more closely mimic humans, and in some cases, replace them, say executives at Wovenware, a Puerto Rico-based provider of smart software solutions.

In addition, in the upcoming year the company expects to see “the ubiquity of the cloud and the growth of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS); a resurgence of nearshoring as a cost-effective, efficient strategy for IT development; and the growing emphasis on adopting the customer delight experience from the consumer arena into the business world,” executives explained.

Smart Apps Explosion

In 2017 we will see the widespread adoption of cognitive systems and artificial intelligence across a broad range of industries. This will drive worldwide revenues from nearly $8.0 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020, according to predictions from IDC.

“A key contributor to this growth is the increasing popularity of chatbots,” said Christian Gonzalez, CEO and co-founder at Wovenware. “These customer-facing, intelligent bots are providing a new level of communication as people continue to spend more time in messaging apps than on social media. These cognitive tools and bots read facial expressions, understand human emotion and learn new skills, blurring the differences between humans and computers.”

Gonzalez offered his predictions for trends we can expect to see in 2017. They are:

Growth of Nearshoring

“The rapid pace of technology advances will only grow in 2017, and companies will be under pressure to continually enhance software to improve business value, and provide market differentiation and competitive advantage,” Gonzalz says.

“Emerging smart solutions -- which continually become more intelligent as they accumulate user data -- need to be maintained and updated and can be extremely complicated to develop, requiring the specialized expertise of software engineers and data scientists,” Gonzalez continues. “Because of the expertise required for these cognitive solutions and the rapid fire of product enhancements, it’s no longer feasible for most companies to develop them in-house, and many will turn to third-parties for product development and maintenance.

According to Carlos Meléndez, COO and co-founder at Wovenware, “As the traditional model of the offshore outsourcing model continues to wane, companies will recognize the benefit of turning to nearshore providers who can provide these services closer to home under the same or similar government rules, regulations and currency, and with more closely aligned cultures and time zones to allow for greater collaboration.”

Comfort in the Cloud

“The concerns about security and loss of control in the cloud will be a thing of the past in 2017,” Gonzalez predicts. “For a remote and highly mobile workforce, the cloud, which only requires an Internet connection to be accessed, has become an attractive delivery model.” “Yet, what will drive a new level of cloud worshippers in 2017 is the growth of PaaS solutions, which provide a platform for customers to run and manage their applications in the cloud without the complexity of building the associated infrastructure or algorithms,” Gonzalez says. “As AI-based predictive analytics and other complex solutions continue to take hold, companies will realize how difficult they are to develop in the data center and they will increasingly rely on PaaS-based solutions.”

Predictive Analytics and the Power of the Data Scientist

Gonzalez says “The power of data is now a given among industries of all types and it will be a necessary tool in 2017. From biopharma and med device manufacturing, to retail and marketing, companies realize that data analytics is a key component of achieving business advantage.”

“Advanced predictive analytics tools are enabling companies to not only measure the past but effectively create a road map for future choices by learning from previous situations,” Gonzalez continues. “Since these solutions are only as good as the data they accumulate, the role of the data analysts and data scientists designing the algorithms and mining the data, will become as necessary as that of the HR manager, marketing head or CIO in the new year.” The Year of the Business User

“A consumer-led, digital-focused market has made customer experience the siren call for companies everywhere,” Gonzalez stresses. “Most of the world’s largest companies will use intelligent solutions to improve the experience of business users in 2017 to address their expectations for the same type of digital experience they have in the consumer world.”

“The New Year will focus on new solutions that improve the business user experience, including intelligent apps which make it easier to perform every-day tasks in the office,” Gonzalez concludes. “Technologies, such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and customer service solutions, will deliver this new level of business user functionality by incorporating AI.”

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