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Continental Resources Inc. wins RES 2017 Partner Excellence Award

Leading RES Partner is recognized for driving business growth in North America

Bedford, MA. , 6/7/2017 – Continental Resources Inc. today announced it has won the RES 2017 Partner Excellence Award for the category, Newcomer of the Year, based on their extraordinary efforts to drive sales, expand the RES footprint and extend the value of RES for customers enhancing their digital workspace environment in 2016.

As a hybrid IT℠ services/solution provider (value added reseller) ConRes provides the broad range of IT products and technologies you’d expect from a distributor combined with the professional services and support you’d expect from a traditional VAR. Our engineers each average over 8 years experience and hold over 500 unique technology certifications from RES, Cisco, HP, NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, VMware, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Brocade, F5, EMC, Symantec and more. One of the reasons Continental Resources is consistently featured in the Solution Provider 500 (formerly the VAR 500) as well as in the Tech Elite 250 best-of-breed solution providers in all of North America.

 

RES helps IT improve the experience and productivity of its internal customers – the workforce – while lowering IT costs and increasing security for the business. RES does it by creating, automating and securing digital workspaces: the assigned digital resources (apps, data, tools and workflows) that a person needs to get work done at anytime from anywhere. With RES, IT ensures that workers can access the resources they need – and only the resources for which they are approved, based on business objectives and policies, and IT provisioning standards.

 

Continental Resources Inc. was selected based on its extraordinary efforts to drive sales, expand the RES footprint and extend the value of RES for customers building out their digital workspace stack.

“We value our partnership with Continental Resources Inc. and their unrelenting commitment to deliver exceptional experiences for our customers. What they have accomplished in 2016 is impressive and motivates us at RES to provide the best solutions, services and alliances to help them continually succeed,” said Kyle Nowlin, Vice President, Americas Channel Sales. “I’m looking forward to what Continental Resources Inc. is going to achieve in 2017.”

“We are honored to be named 2017 RES 2017 Newcomer of the year,” said James F. McCann Jr, President, Continental Resources Inc. “We have seen great success with organizations who recognize the value of RES and how together we can improve their user experience. We are excited about we can accomplish in 2017 and beyond.”

About Continental Resources Inc.

Continental Resources (ConRes) is a leading provider of state-of-the-art test equipment solutions for government, businesses and higher educational institutions. ConRes test equipment offerings include new and used oscilloscopes, signal generators, spectrum and network analyzers, wireless communications testers and other general purpose electronic test equipment. ConRes provides flexible financing options, enabling organizations to buy, lease or rent test equipment. And with a large selection of new and used test equipment from the world’s best manufacturers, ConRes can quickly connect customers to the instruments they require, with same-day shipping available for many products. All test equipment is delivered pre-calibrated whether new oscilloscopes for sale or refurbished oscilloscopes which are calibrated before shipping in ConRes’ ISO-registered, NIST-traceable metrology lab to ensure accurate measurement.

 

About RES

RES creates, automates and secures digital workspaces across hybrid environments, enabling IT to improve the experience and productivity of the workforce while lowering costs. RES takes a people-centric approach that ensure workers can securely access the resources they need and are approved for based on business objectives and policies. RES boasts patented technologies, fast time to value, and superior customer support for more than 2,500 companies around the world. For more information visit www.res.com, contact your preferred RES partner, and follow us on Twitter @ressoftware.

 

Media Contact:

Nicole Connell

n.connell@ressoftware.com

Twitter: @ressoftware

www.res.com

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Contact:          

James King

Continental Resources, Inc.

781-533-0289

jking@conres.com

Continental Resources, INC Named to CRN’s 2017 Solution Provider 500 List

Bedford, Ma, June 5, 2017 Continental Resources, Inc. (ConRes), announced today that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named Continental Resources, Inc. to its 2017 Solution Provider 500 list. The Solution Provider 500 is CRN’s annual ranking of the largest technology integrators, solution providers and IT consultants in North America by revenue.

The Solution Provider 500 is CRN’s predominant channel partner award list, serving as the industry standard for recognition of the most successful solution provider companies in the channel since 1995. This year, for the first time since 2010, the complete list will be published on CRN.com, making it readily available to vendors seeking out top solution providers to partner with.

CRN has also released its 2017 Solution Provider 500: Newcomers list, recognizing 58 companies making their debut in the Solution Provider 500 ranking this year.

“For 55 years, we have worked with our customers to help them navigate the right solution for their environment.  Our engineers average over 10 years of experience and have over 500 certifications, collectively from the top manufacturers in the industry.  This enables them to recommend and implement the best solution for our customers, regardless of the partner.”

“CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list spotlights the North American IT channel partner organizations that have earned the highest revenue over the past year, providing a valuable resource to vendors looking for top solution providers to partner with,” said Robert Faletra, CEO of The Channel Company. “The companies on this year’s list represent an incredible, combined revenue of over $318 billion, a sum that attests to their success in staying ahead of rapidly changing market demands. We extend our sincerest congratulations to each of these top-performing solution providers and look forward to their future pursuits and successes.” Kevin McCann, Chief operating officer of ConRes.

The complete 2017 Solution Provider 500 list will be available online at www.crn.com/sp500 and a sample from the list will be featured in the June issue of CRN Magazine.

Follow The Channel Company: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

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@TheChannelCo names @<Company> to @CRN 2017 SP500 list #CRNSP500 www.crn.com/sp500  

About Continental Resources, Inc.

ConRes is a Hybrid IT℠ services/solutions provider that combines the broad product choice and logistics services of a distributor with the support and engineering services of a traditional VAR. ConRes delivers enterprise-class solutions to I.T. Professionals in business, government and academia. Solutions range from virtualization, disaster recovery, BYOD, wireless, unified computing, networking, security, storage, and private cloud to UNIX®, Linux, and Windows®. Ranked #59 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 (formerly the VAR 500). A WBENC-certified woman-owned business.

About the Channel Company

The Channel Company enables breakthrough IT channel performance with our dominant media, engaging events, expert consulting and education, and innovative marketing services and platforms. As the channel catalyst, we connect and empower technology suppliers, solution providers and end users. Backed by more than 30 years of unequaled channel experience, we draw from our deep knowledge to envision innovative new solutions for ever-evolving challenges in the technology marketplace. www.thechannelco.com

 

Melanie Turpin

The Channel Company

(508) 416-1195

mturpin@thechannelco.com

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What is Advanced System Architecture?

We’ve talked about the digital mesh, the Internet of Everything and the rise of smart machines – the constant avalanches of information that are flying back and forth around us, as the technologies that are learning to capture, handle, process and analyze that information in ever more sophisticated ways.

We’ve discussed the trend of machine learning, that sees devices and software not just analyzing information but using this to identify overarching patterns, make predictions – and learn.

The technology available to us is approaching the point where it can mimic the workings of the human brain. But compared to these developments, the IT architecture in place at most organizations is positively Stone Age. If they’re going to keep up with the rate of innovation and opportunity without seeing their systems go into meltdown, these organizations need to adopt the kind of high-powered, ultra-efficient neuromorphic architectures that can cope with these intense demands.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

Neuormorphic architectures? Sounds pretty futuristic, right? And of course, it is. What we’re talking about is a system that can constantly adapt, change, learn and grow with the speed and ease of human thought – or at least, one that’s heading in that direction.

In order to provide these neuromorphic architectures, advanced system architecture is fueled by field-programmable gate arrays, or FPGAs. This allows systems to run at incredible speed – more than a teraflop – and with breathtaking energy efficiency.

What Gartner Says:

“Systems built on GPUs and FPGAs will function more like human brains that are particularly suited to be applied to deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms that smart machines use. FPGA-based architecture will allow further distribution of algorithms into smaller form factors, with considerably less electrical power in the device mesh, thus allowing advanced machine learning capabilities to be proliferated into the tiniest IoT endpoints, such as homes, cars, wristwatches and even human beings.”

What We Say:

Look at it this way: the trends on the first half of this list are all concerned with increasing the number of potential thoughts, finding new ways to generating sophisticated thoughts, or creating more neurons for ideas to bounce between.

But advanced system architecture is about building the solid gray matter of the corporate, organization, or device brain for these thoughts to actually function, interconnect and build into rational ideas and predictions. The success of innovators in this field will ultimately control the speed at which other IT innovations can be adopted proactively within organizations with the ambition to exploit them.

This is the seventh in a 10-part series on top trends for 2016. In our next post, we’ll be talking about another hot new trend: Mesh App and Service Architecture. See you there!

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As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. In our last post, we analyzed Autonomous Agents and Things; today, we look at the sixth trend on the list: Adaptive Security Architecture.

What is Adaptive Security Architecture?

Keeping your business data and digital assets safe and secure is harder than ever before. These days, a single team might access or transfer information through dozens of networks, devices, business apps, cloud platforms, you name it – multiplying the number of potential weak spots every time.

At the same time as this “threat surface” is growing, hacking methods are getting more and more sophisticated all the time, and whole industries are springing up around data theft and sabotage. Not the kind of scenario that helps IT professional to sleep easy at night, that’s for sure.

Traditionally, IT security has been all about building a bigger and bigger fortress around your data and networks, and limiting access wherever you can to make a breach unlikely. Increasingly, though, this is shown to be a poor match for determined cybercriminal – and what’s more, it can prove to be a limiting factor for businesses looking to innovate and grow.

Adaptive security architecture takes a different view: instead of locking the door and hoping for the best, it focuses on monitoring for threats and attacks and dealing with them head-on.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

The companies that are spearheading Adaptive Security Architecture are moving from an incident response mentality to a continuous response mentality. In other words, they presume that their systems are being compromised all the time and proactively monitor and address issues as they go.

Rather than investing in prevention, they channel energies into detecting and responding to threats – and, crucially to predicting them, too. They keep an eye on what’s happening in the hackersphere and use this information and insights to identify and anticipate where threats will come from in their systems. They retrospectively analyze previous problems and build on their findings.

What Gartner Says:

“Relying on perimeter defense and rule-based security is inadequate, especially as organizations exploit more cloud-based services and open APIs for customers and partners to integrate with their systems. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks. Application self-protection, as well as user and entity behavior analytics, will help fulfill the adaptive security architecture”

What We Say:

Successful adopters of adaptive security architecture recognize that no system can ever be 100% secure and that the methods of attack are shifting all the time. They don’t see a particular fix as the end of the chain: rather, they treat security as a continuous feedback loop of intelligence-gathering, learning and improving – of adapting to security threats as they evolve.

What’s more, in order to balance security and growth, IT departments need to understand that heavy-handed control of employees’ behavior is not the answer. They need to work with the business, and to appreciate the need for flexibility and mobile working. They need to accept risk, and accept that resisting attacks will be an ongoing battle, rather than working on the assumption that with enough of a police state mentality they can eliminate threats altogether. That’s what adaptive security architecture is all about.

This is the sixth in a 10-part series on top trends for 2016. In our next post, we’ll be talking about another hot new trend, Advanced System Architecture. See you there!

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As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. In our last post, we analyzed Advanced Machine Learning; today, we look at the fifth trend on the list: Autonomous Agents and Things.

What are Autonomous Agents and Things?

The logical next step for advanced machine learning – which we talked about in the last post – is technology that can act by itself. “Smart” machine implementations that don’t just connect to the internet and automate a couple of pre-defined tasks, but can actually make complex decisions. Even autonomous decisions. We’re talking robots. We’re talking virtual personal assistants and smart advisers. We’re talking self-driving cars.

We’re talking about a whole landscape of interconnected technologies that don’t just communicate and share data without our intervention, but translate that data into information they can use and understand – and then act on it.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

As Gartner points out, VPAs aren’t new. Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Microsoft Cortana… these tools have been around for some time now, and their potential is firmly rooted in public consciousness thanks to films like Her. But the latest iterations go well beyond simple voice recognition and search functions. They’re getting smarter and smarter all the time.

We haven’t yet reached the stage where our smartphones can run our lives autonomously, but the latest iterations of these VPAs suggest that we’re heading in that direction, and fast. Rather than interacting with our devices via buttons and menus, these innovations encourage users to communicate with apps that act as intelligent agents, acting more as an intermediary than an interface, to interpret our needs and communicate this to our technology.

Combined with the rise of the ambient user experience, the effect is increasingly to have our tech handle our lives with minimal interference from ourselves – anticipating our wishes and putting them into practice with the smoothness and discretion of an invisible butler.

What Gartner Says:

“Over the next five years we will evolve to a post-app world with intelligent agents delivering dynamic and contextual actions and interfaces. IT leaders should explore how they can use autonomous things and agents to augment human activity and free people for work that only people can do. However, they must recognize that smart agents and things are a long-term phenomenon that will continually evolve and expand their uses for the next 20 years.”

What We Say:

Yes, the robot age is finally upon us. In first world nations at least, we’re hurtling rapidly in a direction that will see our technology take care of just about everything on our behalf – not just prompting us with smart suggestions and data-backed options, but actually developing the capacity (and being granted the authority) to make those vital decisions on our behalf.

But while the image of artificial intelligence in the form of robots and synthetic humans is enduringly popular, it’s the less visible, less dramatic manifestations that are proving the most interesting in the short term.

Autonomous software, apps and devices powered by machine learning principles are far closer than AI applications on the horizon. As this slowly creeps into all our tech and becomes a normal way to operate, it is sure to change the way we interact with the world around us for good.

This is the fifth in a 10-part series on top trends for 2016. In our next post, we’ll be talking about another hot new trend, Adaptive Security Architecture. See you there!

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As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. In our last post, we analyzed the Internet of Everything; today, we look at the fifth trend on the list: Advanced Machine Learning.

What is Advanced Machine Learning?

Machine learning essentially means teaching a computer to recognize patterns and comprehend data in order to draw out useful insights. Advanced machine learning applies this analysis to multiple layers across big data sets, creating algorithms that mimic the workings of the human brain by making abstract calculations across different points in a network of connected numbers and inputs.

Called deep neural nets (DNNs), this approach to managing and processing information goes well beyond old school computing. The systems it creates can begin to perceive and learn about the world autonomously, classifying and interpreting data on their own. It’s this that makes smart machines appear to be intelligent.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

Advanced Machine Learning methodology can be used to drive a huge range of functions and programs. The capacity to run these kinds of complex, multi-layered algorithms means a computer can learn to analyze speech, pictures and video, maps and handwriting as well and cross-reference the patterns they identify with findings from big data sets from multiple sources.

This is laying the groundwork for all kinds of apps and technologies that not only handle problems and read information in ever-more impressive ways, but can also start to generate prediction models. It’s no coincidence that innovators from the most maverick Silicon Valley startups to world-leading technology corporations like Google, IBM and Facebook are all exploring, embracing and applying advanced machine learning techniques to help tackle complex problems in their fields.

What Gartner Says:

“DNNs enable hardware- or software-based machines to learn for themselves all the features in their environment, from the finest details to broad sweeping abstract classes of content. This area is evolving quickly, and organizations must assess how they can apply these technologies to gain competitive advantage.”

What We Say:

As companies grapple with increasingly large data sets, advanced machine learning will be increasingly invaluable. As we talked about previously in our discussion of the Internet of Everything, we’re in an era of information overload, where the sheer amount of data available to harvest is far too onerous to handle. The businesses that will thrive are those striving the hardest to figure out how best to process data, select appropriate insights and apply these findings in actionable ways, fast tracking product development and meeting the specific needs of their client base.

By automating the process in intelligent ways, advanced machine learning will help the most ambitious organizations to do precisely that – and more. It will help to model overarching patterns and predict the future with ever-growing accuracy.

While we’re talking further ahead than 2016, there’s every likelihood that, as DNNs continue to advance, we will eventually reach a point where technologies and programs can adapt, improve and evolve by themselves, perhaps even learning to program of their own accord. Here’s hoping humans will be able to keep up.

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As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn, to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. In our last post, we analyzed the expanding field of 3D Printing Materials; today, we look at the fourth trend on the list: The Internet of Everything.

What is the Internet of Everything?

You’re probably familiar with the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT): the network of physical devices that connect to the internet, relaying key data back and forth to provide information on everything from user behavior to stock levels to heart rate, and adapting how those devices work accordingly. Nowadays, there are more devices connected to the internet than people to the planet. Not just phones, laptops, tablets and wearable devices, but cars, toasters, beds, agri-tech, even health-based nanotechnologies that can be injected into our bloodstream and report back on what’s happening inside our bodies. We’ve progressed from the Internet of Things to the Internet of Everything.

That’s a lot of information flowing back and forth. There’s volumes and volumes of it – far too much information to ever measure and put to good use. But for those organizations that can figure out how to be selective, how to extract what they need and make use of this data, the business benefits are boundless.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

That kind of depends on the nature of the organization and what they’re trying to achieve. The trouble with limitless data is that you also have limitless lines of inquiry, so you need a definite goal, a solid game plan and plenty of discipline to get there. Every company will have a different intended use for the data they collect – but ultimately, it will boil down to understanding your customers and your market better, and adapting your solutions and messaging to fit.

From a commercial perspective, this is a big, big trend. As Cisco’s John Chambers has explained, this is more than a multi-billion dollar industry: we’re talking about trillions. Even in the public sector alone, Chambers has said in the past that the impact of IOE on city planning, health, the military, first responders and more would represent a $4.6 trillion industry.

What Gartner Says:

“Information has always existed everywhere but has often been isolated, incomplete, unavailable or unintelligible. Advances in semantic tools such as graph databases as well as other emerging data classification and information analysis techniques will bring meaning to the often chaotic deluge of information.”

What We Say:

Companies, governments and other institutions have a big job on their hands to figure out what kind of information will offer them the most strategic value, exactly where to find it, and how to extract it from myriad sources.

To get anything out of this information at all, they’ll need a crystal clear vision of what their goals are in the first place and what gaps in their knowledge they must fill to achieve them. Then, they’ll have to work out algorithms to process and analyze this data. They’ll have to think carefully about the insights this gives them about consumer or public behavior and how they can harness these to understand their audience and to adapt and improve their offering. What’s more, they’ll have to do all of this while navigating complex privacy laws and ethical considerations.

That’s an awful lot of muddy water to wade through, but the organizations that manage it best will undoubtedly have the upper hand in their industry.

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Top 10 Tech Trends: The Device Mesh

As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. So let’s get started with the first item on the list: The Device Mesh.

What is the Device Mesh? 

Sensors are embedded in more and more of the technologies and devices we use personally and professionally every day. These sensors are collecting data on everything we do, getting more capable and integrated all the time. But until now, these devices have simply linked up to a back-end system, relaying all that data back to the company that created your device or app, provides your internet connection, or software platform – whoever is directly in a position to collect it.

The device mesh, on the other hand, is when the endpoints people use to access their information and applications expand out and talk to each other – they start interacting and working together. The networks bypass the back-end.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

Everything from your car to your GoPro is already collecting information on you, but as devices start to co-operate with each other, your everyday appliance could change the way  they interact with you, other people, communities, businesses and even governments.  It goes beyond “always-on” experiences: it would a more complete picture of your daily habits, preferences and patterns. This would mean more personalization and contextualization that follows you from device to device. It would, most likely, lead to a dramatic increase in the prevalence of wearables and augmented/virtual reality.

And, according to Gartner’s David Cearley, it will usher in a new “post-app” era, as automation becomes widespread and apps become “invisible,” – no longer specific to a particular platform.

What Gartner Says:

“In the post-mobile world the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices.”

What We Say:

It’s pretty clear that having smarter and smarter devices that are increasingly interconnected is where technology is headed – and having big data collected by our tech is pretty standard practice. Public fears over privacy and data security, which many thought might stem the tide, seem to be outweighed by the sheer convenience of having tech at our fingertips that knows what we want before we do.

What’s more, now that mobile has taken the crown from browser-based access to the web, many sites, apps and companies are getting used to the idea that their content will be viewed on someone else’s platform, paving the way for more technological integration, too.

So yes, the digital mesh is likely to play a major role in our technological future. But are we really there yet? Will 2016 be the year the device mesh widens its web? … Hmm. That’s where we’re not so certain. Sure, it makes life easier for customers. Sure, it’s a data goldmine for big companies, researchers and governments. And sure, brands will have to get used to closer collaboration and figure out how to build relationships with customers when they’re piggybacking on each other’s channels.

But until they do, what’s in it for them? What’s to be gained by consenting to go invisible?

For a lot of businesses out there, it’s hard to see why they’d risk jumping before they’re pushed. Until the digital muddle untangles its issues and can show brands how they can work towards their business goals, we’re not holding our breath for too much collaboration.

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As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. In our last post, we analyzed the Device Mesh; today, we look at the second trend on the list: Ambient User Experience.

What is Ambient User Experience? 

Okay, let’s start with what “ambient” actually means: something that blends harmoniously into the environment around you, appearing to be a part of it, without directly demanding your attention. Think soft jazz playing in the background, shaping your mood without you really noticing why. Now imagine that rather than soft jazz, we’re talking about technology, applications, information. Stuff that keeps working away, ticking along in the background, responding to the data it collects automatically to shape your environment and your experience without you consciously interacting with it. That’s the Ambient User Experience.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

To be honest we’ve been heading in this direction for some time. Many of our apps already integrate with one another, collecting information to automate updates and streamline the user experience. Websites deploy complex algorithms to analyze our search histories, comparing this to big data insights in order to predict our next move with ever greater accuracy.

On a case-by-case basis, the smartest technologies are already able to analyze data on the immediate environment and adapt automatically in sophisticated ways too, whether it’s clothing that regulates our body temperature or cars that maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. These products might not have broken through the mainstream just yet, but the capability is there, waiting in the wings for its moment to shine.

What’s been missing from the equation until now, is a coherent way for our devices to do what individual apps already do: collect information from one other to shape the ambient user experience on our behalf. But that is slowly starting to change. And for companies to keep up, they’ll have to move away from seeking ways to push their app, device or branding to the foreground and instead think about the complete user experience – how to be convenient, streamlined, nigh-on invisible. In short, how to become ambient.

What Gartner Says:

“Designing mobile apps remains an important strategic focus for the enterprise. However, the leading edge of that design is focused on providing an experience that flows across and exploits different devices, including IoT sensors, common objects such as automobiles, or even factories. Designing these advanced experiences will be a major differentiator for independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises alike by 2018.”

What We Say:

In our last post, we talked about the “device mesh” – the ever-proliferating variety of sensors in our devices that is furiously collecting data all the time, and will soon start to share this directly with other devices, instead of funneling it back into company-specific silos. It’s easy to see how the device mesh and the ambient user experience will go hand in hand: as the technologies we use increasingly communicate with each other directly, they’ll be able to shape our user experience without our interference, or even awareness.

For individual brands, blending into the background rather than foregrounding your product is often counterintuitive – and that’s likely to make them resistant to fully embracing the device mesh. But in the digital space, the genie is out of the bottle. And it’s the growing willingness of app designers to anticipate this trend that will slowly drive other technologies and brand strategies in the same direction.

Ultimately, it’s all about synchronicity, about gathering contextual data, about getting smart enough to organize user’s lives without them really noticing it happening. And if that all sounds a bit like the plot of I, Robot, then… well, yeah. Let’s hope our devices don’t start developing consciousness any time soon!

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As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. In our last post, we analyzed Ambient User Experience. Today, we look at the third trend on the list: 3D Printing Materials.

What’s the Deal with 3D Printing Materials?

3D printing has been one of the most exciting, promising and fast-evolving trends in technology for a while now. No wonder: it gives individual innovators, companies and design agencies a way to turn product designs, concepts and inventions into physical objects at high-speed and at low-cost. It’s a playground for experimentation that puts control firmly in the hands of designers and inventors, with minimal financial risk.

Trouble is, those experimenting with printing their own products and prototypes are largely limited to using plastics like ABS and PLA. But this is changing – fast. Advances in the field are making it possible to print objects in carbon fiber, glass, wood and other biological materials, nickel alloys, electronics, conductive ink and even pharmaceutical blends.The barriers are falling away. Soon, designers will be able to print objects in just about any materials they choose.

The barriers are falling away. Soon, designers will be able to print objects in just about any materials they choose.

What Does this Mean in Practice?        

The implications are huge. From the medical industry to the military, aerospace to energy, fashion to disaster relief, the ability to print custom-made products, parts and supplies wherever you are, in whatever form you need it, is a total game-changer… especially when the capacity to use locally-sourced materials is thrown into a mix. Already, doctors have been able to 3D print a tiny, tailor-designed splint for a baby’s lung in a life-saving operation. NASA is exploring ways to use 3D printing to create essential resources on-the-spot at the International Space Station – and, further down the line, on Mars, using the planet’s abundant local resources. Gartner expects sales of 3D printers to grow by 64% per year until 2019. This is no fad: this is the future.

What Gartner Says:

“3D printing will see a steady expansion over the next 20 years of the materials that can be printed, improvement in the speed with which items can be printed and emergence of new models to print and assemble composite parts.”

What We Say:

3D Printing is certainly no longer new. It is, quite possibly, the single most important innovation to have cropped up in the manufacturing sector in decades. “Revolutionary” is a term that gets bandied about in the technology world way more than it deserves – few things are genuinely revolutionary – but 3D printing might just be the exception.

Until now the only real limitation for designers and creators was the set of materials they were able to print with. As the trend for experimenting with a wider and wider range of materials gains traction – which it absolutely will, before long, the only limitation will be their imaginations.

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