Some digital trends fade away and die quietly, while others profoundly impact our society and how we live in it. Here are the top nine IT megatrends that I believe will define 2018 and beyond.
Trend 1: Our lives are becoming increasingly satisfied.
Almost everything we do these days creates a trail of digital breadcrumbs, from speaking with friends via a messaging app or buying a coffee to punching in and out with an Oyster card or streaming music. And our world’s expanding datafication has resulted in an unprecedented data explosion.
In a typical minute, Facebook receives 900,000 logins, more than 450,000 Tweets, 156 million emails, and 15 million messages are delivered.
With figures like these, it’s no surprise that the amount of data created in the world generally doubles every two years.
Trend 2: The Internet of Things (IoT) and how common things are becoming more “smart.”
The Internet of Things (IoT), which includes smart, connected devices like smartphones and smartwatches, is a major contributor to this exponential data growth. All of these smart devices are continually collecting data, connecting to other devices, and sharing it – all without the need for human participation (your Fitbit synching data to your phone, for instance).
Nowadays, almost anything can be turned smart. Our automobiles are getting more networked; by 2020, a quarter of a billion cars will be connected to the Internet. There are obvious smart devices, such as TVs, and less obvious smart products, such as yoga mats that track your Downward Dog. Many of us, of course, have voice-activated personal assistants like Alexa, which is an example of an IoT gadget.
That’s a lot of devices, but the Internet of Things is only getting started. By 2020, according to IHS, there will be 75 billion linked gadgets.
Trend 3: Computing power is increasing exponentially, resulting in significant technological advancements.
Without the massive breakthroughs in processing power that we’ve made, none of this incredible expansion in data, nor the billions of IoT devices available, would be conceivable. Computing power increased every two years between 1975 and 2015 before dropping to the present rate every two and a half years.
However, we’re approaching the boundaries of traditional processing power. Thankfully, quantum computing is on the horizon. Quantum computing, arguably the greatest dramatic change in computing power ever, will see computers become millions of times quicker than they are now. Leaders in the technology industry are racing to develop the first commercially functional quantum computer, which will be capable of addressing issues that today’s computers can’t. Even capable of solving problems that we have yet to imagine.
Trend 4: The enormous rise of artificial intelligence is the (AI)
Massive gains in data and computing power have enabled computers to learn similarly to humans. The amazing boom in data has allowed AI to progress so swiftly in recent years; the more data an AI system has, the faster it can learn and the more accurate it gets.
This significant advancement in AI means that computers can now do an increasing number of human-like functions. AI is what allows computers to see (e.g., facial recognition software), read (e.g., analyzing social media communications), listen (e.g., Alexa standing by to answer your every instruction), speak (e.g., Alexa answering you), and measure human emotions (e.g., affective computing).
Trend 5: Automation is the unstoppable freight train.
The more sophisticated machines get, the more they will be able to assist humanity. This means that algorithms or robots can automate and carry out increasingly more procedures, decisions, functions, and systems.
Automation will eventually affect a wide range of businesses and jobs. For the time being, the four Ds can be used to classify the initial wave of employment that machines are taking: dull, dirty, hazardous, and dear. This means that humans will no longer be required to perform tasks that computers can act on more quickly, safely, cheaply, and correctly.
Machines, robots, and algorithms, in addition to the four Ds, will replace – or complement – many human activities, including professional jobs such as law and accounting. The list of occupations likely to be impacted by automation is extensive, ranging from truck drivers to bricklayers to surgeons. According to one estimate, 47% of US employees are at risk of being automated.
Trend 6: 3D printing provides manufacturers with incredible options.
The invention of 3D printing, related to increased automation, is affecting manufacturing and other industries in many beneficial ways. Objects are cut or hollowed out of material, such as metal, using a cutting tool in conventional (subtractive) production. The thing is made by laying down or adding layers of fabric in 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing). Plastic, metal, concrete, liquid, powder, even chocolate, or human flesh are all possible materials for 3D printing.
Significantly more complicated shapes can be generated with 3D printing than traditional production — and with far less material. It also allows for far more product customization without worrying about economies of scale.
Trend 7: We interact with technology in a variety of ways.
In recent years, the way we engage with technology has evolved drastically – and continues to develop. We can perform a wide range of jobs on the go thanks to smartphones and tablets, simply by tapping a screen. Mobile online usage has risen to the point where it surpassed regular computer web usage in 2016, and Google has also confirmed that smartphone searches have surpassed desktop searches.
We’re also talking to our phones, using Siri and other voice search apps. According to estimates, voice searches will account for 50% of all searches by 2020, with roughly 30% involving no screen. As a result, businesses of all sizes are increasingly integrating their services with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. For example, starting in 2018, Alexa will be integrated into BMW vehicles.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are the next big thing in interface design, and they’re going to change the way businesses engage with their customers.
Trend 8: Blockchains: A revolutionary technology that has the potential to revolutionize the world.
It is a practical choice to use blockchain technology to store, authenticate, and preserve data. A blockchain can be thought of as a distributed, extremely secure database. To put it another way, it’s a distributed, peer-to-peer ledger of records. While nothing is safe, blockchain is a significant step forward from current data security technology because, unlike a centralized database, it has no single point of failure.
The records in a blockchain are known as ‘blocks,’ Each block is linked to the one before it. If that sounds familiar, blockchain technology underpins the virtual currency Bitcoin.
Financial services, insurance, and healthcare are just a few industries that are expected to embrace blockchain technology. In reality, blockchain technologies are being investigated by 90% of major European and North American banks.
Trend 9: Platforms are the way forward for enterprises.
A platform is essentially a network (digital or physical) that adds value to participants by allowing them to interact and trade services, products, or information. The platform is rarely the real service provider; rather, it serves as a facilitator for the crowd, allowing participants to interact in a simple, easy, and safe manner.
Platforms are the backbone of what Facebook and Twitter do and have given rise to businesses like Airbnb, Uber, and Amazon. On the other hand, platforms provide growth potential for all types of enterprises, industries, and sectors, not just tech firms. Even long-established companies with more traditional business structures, such as Ford, are developing platform strategies.