2017 has been a volatile year--especially in the digital space. From hackings to bitcoins, we saw the full spectrum of disruptions and innovations over the past year.

With the approaching New Year, the volatility from 2017 will, no doubt, shape the tech trends we see in 2018. These trends have the potential to change how we live, work, and play in the future. The only trick is trying to determine which of these technologies will really take off.

As someone who lives and breathes digital each day, I'm constantly asked which tech trends are coming around the corner. Over course of 2018, you can bet that I'll be keeping a close eye on the following.  

Blockchain

This is a major trend you'll want to monitor. Closely. Never heard of blockchain before? Don't worry, you're not alone. According to the Harvard Business Review, blockchain is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way."

Basically, this tech keeps an immutable record of everything, so it's been the perfect platform for cryptocurrencies--and one of the reasons why digital currencies have survived for this long.

However, blockchain's uses don't stop at digital currencies. This tech is being integrated into other technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), social media, and more. And the reason blockchain is such a great platform is that it makes things more secure and improves tracking. So, for example, using blockchain with IoT would result in a safer and more practical application when it comes to connecting your home or business to the internet.

Security

Cybersecurity will become a much bigger issue in 2018. Current safety measures for identity theft and identity protection need improvement--just look at all the hacks that occurred in 2017. The data that was stolen this past year will affect us in 2018, so you can bet legislators and companies will want to crack down on security. And any new security measures will absolutely affect business operations across industries.

Fintech

Stemming from the two points above, fintech will also continue to explode this year.

Digital currencies aside, we'll see a general and practical improvement in the way we send and receive payments in 2018. Companies like Venmo will make the payment process quicker and easier, and it will all be done via a smartphone.

American Express and other well-known "points program" companies will be making a push to make their "points" a type of currency. Case in point: You can now use your Hilton points to buy things on Amazon. Even Amex points are more widely accepted than ever and we're only in the early days with this new approach.

Augmented reality

Virtual reality (VR) made waves in 2014 when Facebook announced it was investing in the tech. Then in 2016, several different VR headsets hit the market. But the problem with VR is that the tech still requires a lot from the end user. You have to wear the clunky gear and have a high-speed, sophisticated computer to even run the software. Not to say that VR isn't mind-blowing--it is--but before this tech really takes off, I think it's more accessible cousin, augmented reality (AR), will take root first. And we can expect it to do so this year.

Why? Well, the simple answer is that AR doesn't require the same investment VR does. In fact--as we witnessed with the Pokemon Go craze--most consumers already have all the tech they need for AR with them at all times.

And because of its accessibility, we'll start to see AR show up more in the retail and shopping space in 2018. You'll be able to do things like walk into a dealership, hold up your smartphone to a car, and watch as it changes to the color of your choice on the screen.  

Artificial/Augmented Intelligence

Yes, AI has been around for quite some time, but this year we will continue to see this incredible tech get integrated into more everyday applications and tools. We're already seeing this in the way online ads recommend products or how Netflix presents you with movies it thinks you'll like. This tech will only continue to improve and impact our lives.

Net Neutrality

I know this is a hot-button issue, but it's one to definitely take note of in 2018--no matter which side of the debate you stand on. Regulating the Internet is something that will impact businesses around the world, so I encourage any entrepreneurial-minded person to read up on the latest legislation. Knowledge is power.

Final word

We're coming out of a very rocky year, but 2018 is filled with potential. For any company or entrepreneur who either wants to avoid disruption or shake up an entire industry, you'll need to keep a close eye on the latest tech trends. From there, simply determine which trend best aligns with your business and invest when it makes sense.

Published on: Dec 31, 2017