Of course it’s time for predicting things with very little insight! What would the end of one year be without a barely-researched, best guess, shot in the dark article about what’s going to happen soon? (Editor’s note: if we were all that good at making predictions, we’d have won the lottery by now and retired to somewhere tropical.)

robot and human

So what will 2016 bring for the tech and software industries? Let’s break it down.

1. The Internet of Things will get bigger…and smaller – IoT is incredible. Walking into a room that has been heated to my exact liking due to a cloud-based server remembering what time I like to get up and fix some eggs is the stuff of sci-fi movies. But it’s also the stuff of incredible privacy risk. In 2016, there will be far more IoT devices introduced to the market, if not actually reaching consumers in the mainstream, and the software that powers those devices is going to be incredible.

However, this will also be the year that consumers demand privacy answers. Where is my data stored? Who can access it? Why do you need to keep so much information on me and my devices? Now that the “amaze the natives” response to IoT has settled down a little, consumers will start to ask serious questions about how their connected devices impact their data security.

2. The upcoming US elections will have a significant impact on Silicon Valley and its global counterparts – There’s an ugly trend in the US right now, and it’s largely a backlash against the past eights years of President Obama’s administration. Depending on the outcome of the elections, whoever takes office will pander to the lowest common denominator by attempting to undo a lot of the President’s hard-won initiatives.

That doesn’t bode well for funding education, healthcare, and the tech industries. Funding for new innovations may be harder to come by, especially if those organizations benefited over the past few years from any financial sources tied to Obama’s programs. Our hopes of a nationally connected network of schools or more innovations in preventive and IoT medicine hinge on the candidate with the most votes next November. While that won’t be determined until almost the end of 2016 (and the winner won’t actually take office until January 2017), it could make companies very conservative in their project spending this year.

3. Fortunately, that will cause open-source to take off in an even bigger way – If we have to look for the silver lining in severe budget cuts for startups, small business innovators, and education initiatives (especially in STEM), it’s that open-source will take on a whole new vital significance. Right now, it’s a lovely Star Trek-esque idea that companies would share their software innovations just to make the internet and computing better for everyone, but when the companies who are out there making real technological change are fighting to keep their doors open, the need for open communication and collaboration will push open-source into even bigger arenas.

2015 is almost done, and there’s still time for 2016 to be the greatest year yet for tech innovators and the consumers who benefit from the industry. Let’s just keep a good thought that the attitude of discovery that makes new technology happen continues in the coming year.