Five Major Tech Trends For 2018

End of Q4 — magical time to predict and prepare for the upcoming year. What’s going to be trendy in 2018, which trends will be fading and what companies should start preparing for to be competitive? Let’s see.

When searching for surveys and forensic for 2018, I couldn’t resist the thought that it’s the same as 2017. No wonder — the biggest trends won’t disappear from year to year. They will keep on gaining momentum instead. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality was on the lips of the speakers of Web Summit (one of the biggest tech conferences) in 2016. Since then, we have been observing how the ideas affected businesses, how they drilled into application design and development. The upcoming year will bring us more tech in tech. Here’s how.

Artificial Intelligence

Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018 prediction book focuses on three main areas of innovation — Intelligent, Digital and Mesh. The first area shows that 59% of businesses are taking steps to build their AI strategies in the nearest future. What would those strategies be about? In short, it’s about gathering a lot of data in order to improve decision-making processes, implement high user personalisation or even reinvent businesses.

On the less abstract side, AI allows computers to see, read, listen or speak and make decisions based on the data. Thanks to facial recognition software, applications will be ready to offer you a movie you have a mood for or will search the Internet for the key expression you said instead of typed in the browser.

Artificial Intelligence is also a remarkable trend for software houses. Over 80% of projects we’ve spoken of in 2017 had advanced data analysis and AI elements in their scopes. It gives me a strong impression that every application will be incorporating AI at some level. As Forrester predicts, even though it requires hard work, 70% of enterprises expect to implement AI over the next 12 months, up from 40% in 2016 and 51% in 2017.

Blockchain

The investment in Bitcoin turned out to be a moneymaker in 2017. This is what most of the people will remember it for. From a geek point of view what’s important is the blockchain technology behind every cryptocurrency. Blockchain is a secure, distributed way of storing data. Nodes (referred to as blocks) are connected to one another in a chain which creates a self-managed structure. Since any transaction needs to be confirmed by many blocks, there’s hardly any chance to erase or modify what has been done through the blockchain. That’s why the technology is used for sensitive healthcare information or financial transactions and 90 percent of major North American and European banks are looking into implementing it in their solutions. This looks like a huge opportunity for the entire financial sector. By the end of 2018, 50 percent of adults in developed countries will have at least two online-only media subscriptions. Will those transactions be authenticated through blockchain?

There’s also more to connect with blockchain. Massive digging of bitcoins resulted in a demand for certain graphic card types and stronger processors. In fact, we are reaching the limit of what traditional computing power can handle. With digital digging consuming more and more power, we can look for salvation into quantum computing that would make our machines factor large numbers a lot more efficiently than we’ve been ever able to. Thank you, Peter Shor.

Smarter IoT

You must have heard of an intelligent house and “talking fridge”. Lights turn on when you enter the building, radiators start to heat an hour before you come back from the office, your coffee machine grounds aromatic grains just in time. A few years back, the best the technology had to offer were timers. Today, thanks to smart IoT solutions, one can have everything set up perfectly with one tap on the screen. We’re connected to the Internet through Fitbids, smart watches or TVs. Everything can be ‘smart’.

What’s more, the number of devices connected to the Internet has outnumbered human population and is predicted to reach 75 billion by 2020. Intel has even bolder predictions. According to them, every human on Earth will be connected to 26 devices which overall gives a number of 200 billion! The question is: using all those smart devices, are we going to be smarter?

For sure brands will be. The data collected through IoT devices will be thoroughly analysed for better consumer-product fit or targeted advertising. The information about our sleep patterns might help doctors diagnose faster and understanding of city traffic may help cities like Barcelona save up to 35 million USD a year thanks to intelligent and automated lighting systems.

If you’re interested in more cases, check 9 Mega Technology Trends eBook by Bernard Marr.

Immersive Experience

Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, all kind of not-real reality… According to Gartner’s, the next five years will bring us focus on mixed reality (MR) — a way to maintain the presence in the real world while interacting with the digital world. Being in two realities at once might sound crazy but it’s as simple as wearing a MR headset, e.g. the one released recently by Microsoft or using Apple’s ARkit or iPhoneX. In fact, with more and more MR devices, our reality will become much more interesting in 2018. Who is going to create content for them? That’s easy — you are.

A part of the experience is AR user content a billion of us, smartphone users will create at least once in 2018. Deloitte predicts that tens of millions will immerse enough to do it on weekly basis.

The continuation of AR and VR trend shows how deeply the way we interact with the digital world and dive deep in communication with artificial intelligence, chatbots or whichever Marvel hero we wish to revive.

Conversational Platforms

I’m not talking about using chatbots here though, by 2021, 50 percent of companies will spend more on chatbot creation than on mobile development. The experience future is preparing for us is much deeper. Soon we will be able not only to ask a bot for weather (sorry, Poncho). With more and more devices connected, we will be shifting towards handling 50% of voice tasks to IoT assistants such Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant. According to Gartner, this will have a huge impact on marketing as in 2021 over 30 percent of businesses will have adjusted their websites to enable voice search. How would it work? Ride a new 2018 BMW and see for yourself — the company is implementing Alexa in their new models.

In short, voice assistants will become more like platforms than single solutions. They will allow detectives to collect oral testimonies or even sketch a suspect’s portrait based on those. Amazing!

Summary

Even though predictions for 2018 sound like the ones for 2017, the scale is growing. We are diving from big data to huge data, connecting everything with everything else and talk to virtual creatures such as Siri and Alexa. The reality from sci-fi movies has been steadily coming true since the 90’s.

Our homes will be smarter and more automated, companies will be saving money thanks to better decisions made by analysis of big data. We will be buying more because of super-targeted ads.

If it sounds too geeky to be true, you might want to start with something small. Instead of buying a new BMW or letting a voice assistant place orders on your behalf, sit down, relax and let a bit of mixed reality in. Especially the day after New Year’s Eve party.