We knew going into it that 2016 was going to be a momentous year, but we had no idea just how momentous it would turn out to be.  It was a leap year that featured the Summer Olympics, the Brexit vote and the U.S. Presidential election. Not to mention all the dying musicians. But these events also made 2016 a big year for tech news. So what were the 2016 top tech stories?

Election. Any time there’s an election, technology is going to be involved; there’s nothing like a Presidential election to push the envelope on what technology can do, and 2016 was no exception. All the Presidential campaigns, including Drumpf and Clinton’s, used big data, social media, and analytics in new ways. The other takeaway is how many of the analytical models made the wrong prediction for the victor—a cautionary tale for anyone using big data and analytics.

Leap year. Leap year is about more than just giving the small set of people born on February 29 the opportunity to celebrate their birthdays for once. Leap year is a major IT event, because all the programs that make reference to years and days need to be aware of it and accommodate it. Leap year also brought about the usual quadrennial debate about whether we should just get rid of it altogether.

Olympics. As with the Presidential election, the Olympics also tend to push the tech envelope, particularly in streaming technologies. In the office, it becomes an issue when everyone is trying to stream the gymnastics finals at once and slow the Internet down to a crawl in the process. On the other hand, it gets the problem dealt with before March Madness comes around.

Pokémon Go, location-based marketing, and augmented reality. After years of talking about augmented reality and location-based marketing, who would have thought that the killer app for these technologies would be a reboot of a 1990s kids’ game? But so it was, and people started walking into posts and off of cliffs all over the planet playing Pokémon Go. In the meantime, though, it showed us the promise of these technologies, with companies such as Sprint and Starbucks already taking advantage of them by making their retail locations major playing spots in the games. Expect to see more of this in the future.

Artificial intelligence. We predicted in January that AI would be a thing and, of course, we were right. But we weren’t necessarily right in the way we thought. AI made a splash in such ways as achieving a new level of expertise in playing Go, as well as developing a pottymouth when pranksters taught Microsoft’s AI chatbot some new words. Meanwhile, researchers tried to teach AI about humor, using cartoons from the New Yorker. Despite these missteps, AI continues to proceed apace, with Siri, Google, and Amazon Echo competing to see which one understands us the best.

Autonomous cars and the Internet of Things. Okay, 2016 may not have brought us the jetpack, but at least we’re starting to get George Jetson’s self-driving car. Autonomous vehicular technology is also being looked at for functions ranging from taxis to trucking. It just goes to show, though, that the technology for the Internet of Things is still going to need to some work. Developing standard ways for Things to communicate, store their data, and, most important, protect themselves from intrusion.

Security. As always, security was a big issue, with a number of major break-ins and other incidents. Also memorable this year were a variety of disaster recovery mishaps, most notably with airlines such as Delta, which suffered multi-hour outages due to a lack of backup hardware when things broke down. It’s a good warning to all of us to make sure we have a disaster recovery plan and to test it out occasionally.

Finally, about those musicians. It must have been demographics, not to mention actuarials, but for some reason, 2016 was a tough year for musicians, with many illustrious ones from Prince to David Bowie passing away. What makes this a technology story? Aside from the fact that many of us like to listen to tunes while we work, many of these creative people were innovators in technology and the business of music as well as the art of it.

Here’s to 2017.

Laserfiche: Gartner Magic Quadrant

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