There are publications, journals, books, week-long conferences (like CES) and endless amounts of information written about all of the incredible advancements in technology and innovation. For non-technical business owners, it's enough to make your head spin.
Here's a list that breaks it all down. This is not an academic, exhaustive review, but rather a quick skim at a very simplified level to give you an overview of what's top of the tech list for 2018. And there are always opportunities to learn more.
Everything from this point out will be of, about and for data. Collecting it, storing it, securing it, sharing it. There are ample opportunities at every turn. Data can benefit you in two main ways: 1. owning information about individuals is valuable and can be monetized, 2. having insight helps you make smarter decisions.
Marketing will be more personalized than ever before. Those companies that can connect with their consumer (no matter how niche) and make them feel "you get me" will capture more market share. This can also be applied to the city level. Cities who are collecting and using data intelligently will engage and delight their residents and visitors, and redefine the urban experience.
Information Week also points out that the importance of intelligence is increasing while the price of the data is decreasing. This is great news for entrepreneurs and small businesses who don't have enterprise-level resources to unlock the insights they need to grow.
There is a lot of confusion about Blockchain, mostly thanks the speculation around BitCoin (which depends on blockchain technology). In its truest essence, Blockchain is about trust. Information is held and secured by a distributed ledger that is uneditable. In other words, reality is made by many, not by a single entity.
Judd Bagley breaks it down, "Blockchain provides the ability to create value and authenticate information." This has major implications on financial systems, identity management, supply chain automation and of course the sharing economy.
Of course it is much more complicated than this and Blockgeeks gives a great step-by-step guide. Also Inc.com contributor Bill Carmody gives an excellent overview in this piece, 4 Revolutions Made Possible by the Blockchain Economy.
Whether you think it's the next best thing or a bunch of hype, it is worth it to investigate what the buzz is all about. And if you think it's a niche technology for cryptogeeks, think again. The government is getting involved as regulators look to accelerate adoption.
Noted AI expert Amir Husain often says the phrase, "software is eating the world, and AI is eating software." Which basically equates to the notion that Artificial Intelligence will transform everything and has gone mainstream.
At its core, AI is the ability of machines to "learn," leveraging data, the cloud and software to compute at speeds that are far beyond human capability." If you've used voice-command or facial recognition technology, you're in the AI world. It's basically enabling machines to do a better job of what humans do.
There are many speculations on the impact of AI from automation to privacy. There will certainly be major change in every industry. However, this is no cause for alarm but instead a call to prepare, educate and adjust. We are in the 4th Industrial Revolution and the technology is finally ready to enhance the human experience in meaningful ways.
Wireless Everything & 5G
A few years ago, the top trend was mobile. From payment systems to mobile-ready web design, everything was about communicating to people via a handheld device. Now mobile is an assumption and the underlying technology - the network - is grabbing headlines.
This is the year of 5G, the next generation of mobile broadband that promises speeds up to 100 times faster than the current 4G technology. This is important because it fuels the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data work which are working to automate our daily experience.
This level of innovation requires massive amounts of bandwidth and it is critical to not only have availability, but also low latency, which means lightning-fast speed. In a world with autonomous vehicles that depend on instant connectivity, the last thing you want is a delay in response time.
Other Foundational Technologies
Underlying all of these technologies are important concepts like security, privacy, software and the cloud. These area are no longer an afterthought or reaction for large enterprise-level organizations. Instead they are important parts of the planning phase for any level of technology implementation.
The major theme for 2018 seems to be that everything is connected. Carolina Milanesi with Creative Strategies goes on to say, "It's less about the hardware, and more about what's inside."