The Most Important Tech Trends to Track Throughout 2018

2017 was a roller coaster of a year; it’s breathtaking how the time to market for technologies to create observable impact is shrinking year after year. In the year that went by, several new technologies became mainstream, and several concepts emerged out of tech labs in the form of features within existing technologies.

In particular, industrial IoT and AI-based personal assistance space expanded manifolds in 2017, data as a service continued its rollicking growth, and connected living via smart devices appeared to be a strategic focus for most technology power players. Efforts to curb misinformation on the web also gained prominence.

Artificial intelligence, the blockchain, industrial IoT, mixed reality (AR and VR), cybersecurity– there’s no dearth of buzzwords, really. The bigger question here is – which of these technologies will continue to grow their scope and market base in 2018, and which new entrants will emerge?

Let’s try to find out the answers.

 

The Changing Dynamics of Tech Companies and Government Regulators

Indications are too prominent to ignore now, there’s increasing pushback from governments, along with attempts to influence the scope of technological innovations. The power and control of technology in human life is well acknowledged now, and naturally, governments feel the need to stay in the mind space of tech giants, as they innovate further. With concerns around smart home devices ‘tapping’ your conversations all the while, it’s reason enough for the end user community to be anxious.

GDPR will come into force in mid-2018, and the first six months after that will be pretty interesting to watch. The extent and intensity of penalties, the emergence of GDPR compliance services, the distinct possibilities of similar regulations emerging in other geographies – all these will be important aspects to track for everyone. Also, the net neutrality debate will continue, and some of the impacts will be visible on the ground. Whether it will be for the better or for the worse of the World Wide Web? By the end of 2018, we might be in a good position to tell.

The ‘People’ Focused Tech Business

The debate around the downsides of technology in terms of altering core human behaviour is getting louder. Call it the aftermath of Netflix’s original series called Black Mirror, which explores the fabrics of a future world where the best of technology and the worst of human behaviour fuse together. Expect the ‘people’ side of technology businesses evolve more quickly throughout this year.

Community-based tech businesses, for instance, will get a lot of attention from tech investors. Take for example businesses such as co-working spaces with particular attention on specific communities, such as women entrepreneurs, innovators who’re dedicated to research in a specific technology, people with special requirements and who’re differently abled.

Also, AI algorithms that make humans more powerful instead of removing them from the equation will come to the fore. Take, for instance, Stitch Fix, an AI-powered personal shopping service that enables stylists to make more customized and suitable suggestions to customers.

Blockchain and IoT Meet

For almost 5 years now, IoT has featured on every list of potentially game-changing technologies, and for good reason. There are, however, two concerns.

How quickly will business organizations be able to translate innovation in IoT into tangible business use cases?

How confident can businesses be about the massive data that will be generated via their connected devices, every day?

Both these concerns can be addressed to a great extent by something that’s being termed BIoT (that’s blockchain Internet of Things).

BIoT is ready to usher in the new era of connected devices. Companies, for instance, will be able to track package shipments and take concrete steps towards building smart cities where connected traffic lights and energy grids will make human lives more organized. When retailers, regulators, transporters, and analysts will have access to shared data from millions of sensors, the collective and credible insights will help them do their jobs better. Of course, the blockchain concept will ensure that data will be too difficult to be hacked.

 

Bots

Yes, bots. We’ve almost become used to bots answering our customer service calls. Why is this technology, then, a potential game-changer for the times to come? Well, that’s because of the tremendous potential for growth that bots have.

Bots are the outcome of coming together of key technologies – natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML). Individually, there’s a lot of growth happening in both these technologies, which means that bots are also growing alongside.

Because of the noteworthy traction of chatbots in 2017, businesses are very likely to put their money in chatbots over apps in 2018. From chatbots that give you tailor-made financial advice to those that tell you which wine would go well with your chosen pizza, the months to follow will bring a lot of exciting value adds from this space.

Quantum Computing: From Sci-Fi to Proof of Concept

Let’s face it; quantum computing has always been a thing from science fiction movies, and not really anything tangible. The research activity in this space, however, hasn’t slackened a bit. Innovators are, in fact, at a stage where quantum computing is no more just a concept. The promise of outperforming traditional supercomputers might not be an empty promise after all. Tech giants are working hard to improve their qubit computing powers while keeping error probability at a minimum. 2018 has every reason to be the year when quantum computing emerges as a business-technology world buzzword.

 

Concluding Remarks

The pace of disruption of a tech trend is moderated by government regulations, the price war among competing tech giants, and cybersecurity, among other factors. Eventually, we all have to agree that the only thing we can say for certain is that by the time this year draws to an end, we will all be living in ways different from today. It’s very likely that at the core of these changes will be one or more of the technology trends we discussed in this guide.

 

 

Author – Rahul Sharma