The pace of technology change is fast and only getting faster. Below are our top 5 technology trend predictions for 2018.
2018: The Year of AI
Artificial Intelligence recorded some remarkable achievements in 2017. For example, in November alone, the first AI-powered robot passed a medical licensing exam and a deep learning algorithm created at Stanford University outperformed radiologists in diagnosing pneumonia. This is just the front edge of a wave of innovation to be led by AI.
In 2018, we expect even more rapid advancements, as AI proves itself to be a differentiator for companies winning in digital. In fact, 70% of enterprises plan to implement AI in the upcoming year (Forbes) with many industries integrating bot automation to streamline their internal processes. The business case is big: Harvard Business Review reports that businesses spend $3 trillion each year due to inefficient processes and businesses can attack these inefficiencies by leveraging bots as a centralized, trusted information source.
Advancements in AI and machine learning are also accelerating voice-based search queries, which are now the fastest growing mobile search type (Gartner). By 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual- and voice-search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%. Look for many more exciting advancements with this revolutionary technology in 2018.
Blockchain Emerges from the Shadows
With all of the headlines that bitcoin has generated in 2017, it might sound illogical to say that blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, will emerge from the shadows in 2018. But when it comes to blockchain, bitcoin is actually a small part of a much bigger story. To date we have caught only glimpses of what are likely to be the profound impacts of this foundational technology.
Some describe blockchain in terms of the evolution of the internet. In this perspective, blockchain is an example of an “internet of value”, as opposed to an “internet of information”, and describes how the global network will evolve to create, manage, and store assets in digital form. Importantly, one of the biggest threats to the growth of the digital economy is security and blockchain helps to mitigate this by providing “digital trust at scale”.
Blockchain is being deployed in countless ways across a wide variety of industries, but to date these experiments have been both small in scale and primarily internal exercises. In 2018, we can expect that the results of these experiments will be used to expand the use of blockchain. An early example of this came this month as ASX, operators of Australian capital markets including the main stock exchange, announced plans to utilize blockchain to replace their existing system for the registration, clearing, and settlement of equity transactions.
At the same time, a shift will start to occur from the private blockchains used for internal exercises to hybrid, permissioned blockchains that include multiple stakeholders. Adoption will come quickly as It is estimated that by 2020, 25% of the top global transaction banks, nearly 30% of manufacturers and retailers, and 20% of healthcare organizations will use blockchain networks in production.
Cloud Everywhere for Everything
The conversation has turned 180 degrees in the past several years: companies are no longer asking what should be in the cloud, they’re asking what shouldn’t be in the cloud (the answer is very little!). In 2018 there will be massive cloud adoption and multi-cloud environments will become the norm. In fact, IDC predicts that by 2021, enterprise spending on cloud will double to $530 billion, leveraging the diversifying cloud environment that is over 90% multi-cloud.
Now that companies are in the cloud, how do they take advantage of it so the business can operate at a whole new level? The first wave of cloud adoption has been primarily movement onto SaaS applications or basic “lift-and-shift” to cheaper cloud infrastructure. While we will continue to see growth in these areas, winning companies will start using serverless platforms to achieve a whole new level of speed, scale, and cost reduction. Cloud 2.0 is about understanding the data, analyzing it with machine learning capabilities, and deriving actionable insights. We’ll reach a tipping point in 2018 where we’ll see a shift from cloud-first to cloud-only strategy as the new industry standard.
IoT Making Waves With More Industries
IoT is more than apps to turn lights on and off or order more milk when you run low. IoT creates a network of devices that collects and shares a virtually unlimited amount of data that can be used to drive the AI and cloud initiatives that promise to deliver new levels of efficiency and service. IoT will revolutionize many industries in the upcoming years, particularly in healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation.
In healthcare, a monumental initiative in the IoT space this year was Dana Lewis’s OpenAPS (open artificial pancreas system). OpenAPS provides a predictive algorithm that gives diabetic patients personalized recommendations and actions for treatment. All relevant data points are connected to automatically allow the correct amount of insulin to be released. This IoT initiative sparked a movement in the healthcare field to develop more open-source initiatives to improve treatments for patients.
Manufacturing is another field projected to be leading in IoT initiatives with an estimated $189 billion investment in 2018 (IDC). Manufacturers will begin adding IoT capabilities to more products because of the increased availability of inexpensive technology. By 2020, IoT technology will be in 95% of electronics for new product designs (Gartner). Eventually, there will be IoT technology in virtually every electronics-enabled product
Finally, the retail industry is taking advantage of IoT capabilities by using devices to track and improve consumer shopping experiences. Some retailers will be installing sensors into in-store shopping carts to track the paths customers take throughout a store and better understand customer preferences (this also prevents theft). It is estimated that $772.5 billion will be spent on IoT worldwide in 2018, and many other industries will start to leverage IoT in new and exciting ways.
Demand for Versatile Talent
Technology advancements are occurring at a breakneck pace and the market is going to demand versatile skillsets to take on these new enterprise challenges. As AI, machine learning, IoT, big data, and blockchain become more prevalent in the enterprise, companies will require employees with more than specialized IT skills. At the same time, top talent will need to possess a unique blend of technology and business skills needed to deliver superior results in today’s digital environment. Forbes predicts that by “2021, 40% of IT staff will be ‘versatilists’ holding multiple roles, most of which will be business -rather than technology-related.” While finding and retaining this versatile talent can be challenging, it is a game-changer and significant competitive advantage for companies who are winning in the digital age.
The Perspective from Maven Wave
The recent pace of technology change is truly remarkable and if it’s any indication of what’s to come, then we can expect to see a continued acceleration of new technologies in 2018. While these changes provide myriad opportunities for new and exciting approaches to business, they are not without their challenges. Staying in front of new developments requires a flexible and responsive approach in a way that leverages the strengths of all aspects of business and IT. At Maven Wave, we help leading companies capture the promise of new technology and thereby shorten the fuse to innovation. We believe that we are in the midst of a golden age of technology innovation and we welcome the opportunity to realize the possible for our client partners.