Technology is becoming increasingly important part of our day to day lives, whether it be at home, how we do our jobs or how businesses are run.
We’ve done a bit of our research and picked out what the gurus are predicting as the top trends for 2018.
Trend 1: Increased focus on protecting against threats from Cyber Attacks
Cybersecurity, or a lack thereof, shaped 2017. From “WannaCry” to the massive Equifax breach, the year has been consumed by negative news about companies failing consumers in ways that consumers are just starting to understand. As Facebook and Google testify at open congressional hearings to close out the year, the public conversation will move to privacy and a renewed focus on its importance.
Trend 2: The Internet of Things (IoT) and how everyday devices are becoming more ‘smart’
The IoT – which encompasses smart, connected products like smart phones and smart watches –is a major contributing factor in this exponential increase in data. That’s because all these smart devices are constantly gathering data, connecting to other devices and sharing that data – all without human intervention (your Fitbit synching data to your phone, for instance).
Pretty much anything can be made smart these days. Our cars are becoming increasingly connected; by 2020, a quarter of a billion cars will be hooked up to the Internet. For our homes, there are obvious smart products like TVs,and less obvious ones, like yoga mats that trackyour Downward Dog. And, of course, many of us have voice-enabled personal assistants like Alexa – another example of an IoT device.
That’s already a lot of devices, but the IoT is just getting started. IHS has predicted there’ll be 75 billion connected devices by 2020.
Trend 3: The incredible rise of artificial intelligence (AI)
Computers are now able to learn in much the same way as we humans do, and this leap in AI capabilities has been made possible by the massive increases in data and computing power. It’s the incredible explosion in data that has allowed AI to advance so quickly over the last couple of years; the more data an AI system has, the quicker it can learn and the more accurate it becomes.
This huge step forward in AI mean computers can now undertake more and more human tasks. In fact, it’s AI that allows computers to see (e.g. facial recognition software), read (e.g. analyzing social media messages), listen (e.g. Alexa standing by to answer your every command), speak (e.g. Alexa being able to answer you) and gauge our emotions (e.g. affective computing).
Trend 4: We’re interacting with technology in very different ways
The way we interact with technology has changed dramatically in recent years – and is still changing. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, we can carry out a whole range of tasks on the move simply by touching a screen. Mobile web usage has increased to the point where, in 2016, it overtook web usage through traditional computers. Google has also confirmed that searches on mobile devices now outstrip desktop searches.
We’re also talking to our devices, using voice searches via Siri and the like. Estimates suggest that, by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches, and around 30 percent will involve no screen whatsoever. As a result, all kinds of businesses are gradually integrating their products with the likes of Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. For example, Alexa is being integrated into BMWs from 2018. Virtual reality and augmented reality represent the next huge leap in interface innovation, transforming how businesses interact with customers.
Trend 5: Machine Learning and Automation
Machine learning will take over mindless, repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Machines can minimise the chances of the error and are able to learn, predict and adapt in real time based on previous data. Eventually, a wide range of industries and jobs will be impacted by automation. However, for now, the first wave of jobs that machines are taking can be categorised using the four Ds: dull, dirty, dangerous and dear. This means humans will no longer be needed to do the jobs that machines can do faster, safer, cheaper and more accurately. Apple has already launched machine learning for iOS apps. Other software providers are following suit and are adding it to make life and software more intelligent and advanced. We will not be able to avoid it in 2018.
Trend 6: A move towards Visual and Voice Search.
Gartner feels so strongly about this prediction that “by 2021, that they believe early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.” There’s nothing new here. We’ve known for decades that users love talking to machines, searching and transacting with graphical interfaces and immersing themselves into video. It’s not the preference that’s important, it’s the state of the technology that matters.
Trend 7: Blockchain: An invention that could change our world
Blockchain technology is a very practical solution to the problem of storing, authenticating and protecting data. Think of a blockchain as a decentralised, extremely secure database. Or, to get slightly more technical, it’s a distributed, peer-to-peer ledger of records. While nothing is ever totally ‘hack-proof’, blockchain represents a huge leap forward compared to our current data security technology as, unlike a centralized database, there’s no one single point of failure.
The records in a blockchain are called ‘blocks’ and every block is connected to the previous block (hence, ‘block’ and ‘chain’). The whole chain is self-managed, which means there’s no one person or organization in charge of the entire chain. If that sounds familiar, it might be because the virtual currency Bitcoin functions on blockchain technology.
Financial services, insurance and healthcare are just some of the sectors where blockchains are likely to be heavily adopted. In fact, 90 percent of major European and North American banks are exploring blockchain solutions.
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Sources: Forbes, Gartner, Equinix