On the train from less than snowy Helsinki into the North Karelian wilderness, I’ve put together four technology predictions for 2017. These technologies and business areas will see great growth or turmoil next year.

1) AI and machine learning are now the talk of the town. I predict that next year at least 25% of software development projects – even in large corporations – will include concrete uses of machine learning technology. One big reason for that will be the advancement and cheap availability of machine learning API’s from Google.

2) Virtual reality (VR) will never quite reach the kind of popularity that some tech enthusiasts have been waiting for. Disappointing content offerings (in terms of volume and even quality) are just part of the problem. Expensive and clumsy to wear technology doesn’t help. Neither does feeling sick when you’re diving into the experience. Augmented reality (AR), however, will see lots of interesting development in the coming year and has relevance to way more business fields. VR may well suffer the fate of surround sound and be confined in the realm of (game) entertainment. Surround sound never got popular among music listeners, although it technically offers superior quality and presence compared to stereo sound. Let’s be honest – how many of us use our home theater surround speakers on a regular basis even when watching movies? Just like 3D TV’s aren’t of much interest to your average channel surfer.

3) Fintech and banking-related software development will be boosted further in Europe because of the PSD2 directives. In the beginning of 2018, banks are expected to provide their customers’ financial information for registered third-party service providers through API’s. Put short, this means that startups could become your new outlets to your financial information and payment services. It will be a challenge for the banks not to become just the consumers’ “piggy banks”, i.e. depositories of money, or bits. Even that function might be served in the future by a large tech corporation (*cough*Apple*cough*) with a lot of cash and consumer trust available.

4) 2017 will be the year of digital native advertising and content marketing – in the USA. Whereas high quality content marketing has already become the norm in certain B2B industries, more time is needed in B2C. The consumer-facing traditional media and publishing companies have been more reluctant to follow suite with native advertising offerings, online and offline. This will change next year for good. Most countries in Europe will take one to two more years to follow suite as online media (still) try to fight tooth and nail for their vanishing banner ad revenues.

With these thoughts we wish you all a super inspiring start to 2017!