2016 The biggest successes

Serverless computing

George Kallarackal, CTO, Style Research “Serverless technology came on leaps and bounds during 2016. It allows developers to run code without the need for servers, provisioning, deployment, etc. providing infinite scalability with zero cost for functionality that is not needed. In 2017, no doubt many businesses will be questioning container-based projects and whether serverless might be the better choice.”


Bill McCall, Industrial Partner, Lyceum Capital “Skyscanner, the travel price checking website founded by three Manchester University graduates and based in Edinburgh, sold for an impressive £1.4bn to China’s Ctrip.  Very much a pan British firm, Skyscanner has taken several years to succeed and has paved the way for other British disruptive tech businesses to aim high.”

Elon Musk

David England, Industrial Partner, Lyceum Capital “2016 was the year Elon Musk became a household name. One of Silicon Valley’s most inspiring entrepreneurs, Elon has his sight set on redefining transportation. Valuations for his business Tesla Motors have skyrocketed during 2016. With big plans for 2017 – to launch a new car, perfect autonomous driving and move into battery manufacturing, Musk’s businesses have the potential to transform everyday life.”


Gareth Tolerton, CTO at Totalmobile “I would say drones became mainstream technology in 2016. Drones of all sizes, doing all manner of incredible things, from performing checks on the inside of an oil tanker to carrying people and delivering goods. Although we may not see them in our skies every day, drones are now here to stay.”  


2016 Disappointments

Fake news

Lee Shorten, Chairman, Sabio“I think 2016 will be the year we look back on when tech influenced the outcomes of some of the world’s biggest decisions. The likes of Google and Facebook being blamed for confusing voters by feeding personalised stories, some of them untrue, based on browsing history.

“Traditional media outlets such as newspapers and television have lost some of their influence over the public and it will be interesting to see how the debate around personalised news feeds pans out.”

Not much new

Jim Darragh, CEO, Totalmobile “Generally, 2016 was a disappointing year for innovation. We didn’t see the emergence of anything genuinely and ground-breakingly new, just more of the same themes, such as Big Data and connected machines, which are hardly new innovations.”

Data breaches

Guy Bunker, Senior Vice President, Products and Marketing, Clearswift“Even ten years after the first big electronic data breach (the US Department of Veterans Affairs, containing 26.5 million records) data breaches continued to make headlines in 2016. The Yahoo! breach directly impacted 500 million personal e-mail accounts, the Clinton Foundation, Dropbox, the Democratic National Committee, and many others had vital information stolen.”


Joe Edwards, former Non-Executive Director, Adapt“Twitter – it’s going nowhere fast and it’s difficult to see it surviving in its current form. Twitter still hasn’t come up with a convincing revenue model, as well as negative profits and slowing user growth, it is hard to see Twitter’s fortunes change over 2017.” 

2017 Breakout Stars

Internet of things

Jim Darragh, CEO, Totalmobile “I believe 2017 will be the year when the internet of things becomes a reality. Notwithstanding security concerns, much larger numbers of sensors will be deployed as automation plays an ever more important role in our lives. Many everyday objects will have network connectivity and machine-based decision making will have a much more prominent role.”

AI and Google’s DeepMind

Martin Leuw, Industrial Partner, Lyceum Capital “In 2017 Artificial intelligence will go mainstream for corporates. AI has been around for a while but now a variety of new frameworks and services are making it possible for non-specialists to access this technology.

“Google’s DeepMind in particular is on my watch list for innovation breakthroughs in 2017.”

Voice controlled apps

David England, Industrial Partner, Lyceum Capital “The breakout stars for me in 2017 will be voice controlled apps for domestic use, such as in-car applications, fridges and speakers.

“Led by the launch of Amazon’s Echo/Alexa, voice controlled apps will drive growth for ever improving stored learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies – ensuring that voice interactions in 2017 will improve greatly.”


MaksymSchipka, CTO, Clearswift“The use of Blockchain technology as a way to build secure distributed public databases will be the breakout star of 2017 for me. Usage of Blockchain is spreading quickly – from trading gold electronically (for example Royal Mint in November, 2016) to securing everyday internet communications.” 

 2017 Non-Starters


Stewart Dorman, Chief Innovation Officer, Sabio“Omni-channel is defined as a multichannel sales approach that provides customers with an integrated experience linking digital and human assisted services. For example, we often start our shopping experience via a company’s website, but expect human assistance to be there if we need it and shouldn’t need to explain who we are and why we are making contact – as this information is already known to the company.

“We already have the technology that can deliver against this vision, but implementation has been slow for all but the most forward thinking of companies.”

Enablers of disruptive technology

Kirsten English CEO, Style Research “If 2016 was a year for ‘Disruptors’ then 2017 will be a year for ‘Enablers’. Enablers are the systems that allow disruptive technologies to thrive e.g. mobile payment apps often need robust enabling technologies to power them. The Enabler revolution is coming as technologies such as Blockchain and new approaches such as ‘Open Data’ are deployed mainstream in financial services organisations. This will drive unprecedented change at the very core of fintech.”

iPhone 8

Heath Davies, CEO, Clearswift“The anticipated launch of the iPhone 8 doesn’t get me excited. The PDA market is reaching saturation and I’m not convinced that iPhone 8’s rumoured features such as greater water and dust resistance, will be good enough to make consumers switch, unless you’re a sub-aqua diver or live in the desert (both of which will put demands on your network provider!)”

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