It’s that time of the year when every technology industry analyst and observer comes up with their own list of top trends to hit the industry in 2018. However, most of them just predict incremental trends that were already taking shape and picking up steam the previous year, which in this case is the year 2017. Such trends do not offer much value for the technology businesses. What these businesses need are penetrative insights and predictions of disruptions that will rock their industry, so that they can adapt, overcome, or leverage these trends to their advantage. So, here is a list of top technology trends that the businesses need to keep their eye out for.
1. BlockChain Will Become Pervasive
No, blockchain is not a bubble. Bitcoin definitely is. But, the underlying technology, blockchain, is a revolutionary system. As far as bitcoin is concerned, it works as a distributed ledger of records that verifies transactions without requiring any middlemen. But, its applications are far and wide-ranging. Blockchain is already being adopted by the banking giants like Bank of America, UBS, and others for making cross-border transactions faster. In addition, blockchain based smart contracts are transforming the legal space and business contracts in a dramatic way. That’s not all. Blockchain based applications are being built in almost every major field, including healthcare, government services, insurance, data storage, copyright protection, and a multitude of other fields. This year will witness blockchain growing out of its bitcoin cocoon and becoming a more mainstream technology.
2. Augmented Lifestyle
The year 2018 will witness the barriers between the physical world and the virtual world shattering completely. In fact, the two of them will overlap to create a richer, augmented lifestyle for everyone, not just for the gamers playing in augmented reality. Everything, including our lifestyle, will undergo tremendous changes. The way we see (real time facial recognition, product data retrieval during shopping), the way we read (semantic and sentiment analyses), the way we interact with computers (Google Assistant, Alexa), and everything else will become augmented with data from the virtual world.
3. Flying Cars and Taxis Will Become a Reality
The Jetsons will finally be here, with us.
By the end of this year, you won’t just be checking right and left, before crossing the road. You’ll be checking up as well. The Dubai government has an ambitious plan to get an entire fleet of self-flying taxis speeding across the skies of the emirate and catering to its people. The prototype of the flying taxi, Ehang 184, has already been tested with great results. Dubai authorities are confident that the flying taxi is all set to begin its services this summer. In the US, Uber and NASA opine that Los Angeles will get its first fleet of flying cars as early as 2019. Now, that’s something everyone has been waiting for a long time.
4. The Death of the Smartphone
Now, that’s a bold prediction, even crazy maybe. But, the truth is that the smartphones have come a long way. The traditional definition of a smartphone was a device that allowed you to connect in more ways than a phone call, and enabled you to perform a multitude of functions. That is still true. But, today’s devices have taken the next leap. These devices are beginning to get equipped with AI capabilities that go beyond performing tasks as instructed – they are performing the functions even before you ask them to. These phones are a new breed of devices that can be called intelligent phones, rather than just smart phones. Businesses that adapt to the challenges and opportunities that such devices bring can create a competitive advantage for themselves.
5. The Touchless Interface
Almost every futuristic movie produced in the last 40 years or so has predicted some or the other kind of touchless interface technology. After all these years of waiting, digital assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa have recently given us a trailer of what is to come. Such digital assistants and their interfaces will become more common this year. You will be able to instruct your phone to shop, transact, send money, check mail, and perform a variety of other functions without ever touching it.
6. From Cloud to the Edge
The cloud technology is a powerful enabler. It allows you to access functionality from anywhere in the world. But, as the devices become more powerful and smarter, they’ll be handling mountains of data in real time. Streaming all of that data to and from cloud reduces the responsiveness of the system, even if you have ultra-fast 5G connections. In other words, the devices will get slower, even though they have better processing power. Therefore, the solution is a form of distributed computing, termed as Edge Computing. Such a network of distributed computing will enable edge IoT devices to be faster.
7. “Quantum” – The Next Buzzword
Remember this. You heard it first here. “Quantum” will become the next buzzword in the world of tech.
Quantum computing is no more a fiction. IBM has already created a working quantum computer in 2017, and is gearing up to improve its capabilities in 2018. Other players in this space are aggressively ramping up their development activities to create a more powerful quantum computer. All in all, quantum computers will make a big splash in 2018. Very soon, perhaps not in 2018, these computers will make today’s supercomputers look like Stone Age tools.
8. Continuous Risk Assessment and Response
Modern hackers are getting more resourceful and inventive. The world witnessed in horror in 2017 the threats they pose during attacks like WannaCry, Equifax breach, and many others. A new kind of threat assessment and response system is warranted. Many security experts are already incorporating AI into their security systems. The antivirus and other security systems in 2018 will feature rules of engagement, which automate the responses to attacks and breaches.
9. IIoT Will Transform Manufacturing
Industrial IoT is set to revolutionize the manufacturing industry worldwide. From automating production processes to monitoring quality to predicting problems before they happen, IIoT’s applications are endless. They will improve the manufacturing processes, make them more efficient, and increase their profitability, consistently.
10. 4K Everywhere
4K is not a mainstream technology yet. Even if you have a 4K television, your content options are greatly limited. But, all of that will change in 2018. 4K-enabled cameras, drones, video recorders, and even dashcams will begin their conquest of the retail market.
Bonus Advice: Take advantage of the 4K wave as a business, but do not jump onto the 4K bandwagon as a consumer. Come 2020 and 8K will be the talk of the town. You don’t want to go obsolete in just 2 years, do you? Really, 4K is just an in-between technology without a significantly long future.