Monique Morrow

Chief Technology Strategist

Trends of 2018: What the New Year Brings for Technology And The World Around Us

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December 2017

It’s not possible to predict the future. What we can do, however, is look at fast changing global patterns through a 21st century systems anthropologist lens. We can ask questions like “what if?”, “why not?” and “how?”. Let’s take a look at what the next year (and future) could behold.  

  1. Blockchain

From cryptocurrency to higher education to the promise of a digital identification system, the power of blockchain technology holds an enormous amount of potential for the future. The benefits of a distributed blockchain enterprise are expansive, and for 2018, blockchain promises the redistribution of power back to the people. Individuals will be encouraged to make more secure and transparent monetary transactions through cryptocurrency, which will become mainstream, rather than just an experiment. Not only that, blockchain technology will affect energy and sustainability practices by enabling consumers better management of time and resources.

2. Big Data

In 2018, data will become everything, including our identity. Personal data consists of everything from a name, an email address, bank details, posts on social networks, medical information, photos, or a computer IP address. We are pulsing with information about us, and we will soon become products based on the data used to identify us. Using facial recognition and other advanced digital tools, humans are moving fast towards becoming data points in a cloud that can be accessed by marketers galore. But, as the Washington Postasserts, some aspects of this type of of technology can be deeply unsettling as well as a major privacy threat.

3. Data Privacy/Cybersecurity Challenges

When we live by the digit, we die by the digit. With more data available comes more risk. Certain laws, like the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to be introduced in May of 2018, has been designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy. However, the enforcement of such a law only hints at the oncoming cybersecurity crisis. The threat of cybersecurity breaches within industrial control systems is more real than ever, and attacks are only becoming more widespread and global in nature. Putting in place the necessary infrastructure to prevent such attacks will be critical in the coming year, for companies both big and small.

4. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

The above brings us to AI and machine learning, which has been posited by many as tools that can overcome an endemic shortage of skilled workers and scale up to the challenges posed by attackers. But, as Hyram Anderson of Endgame has said, “machine learning is not a silver bullet. It has blind spots.” Still, however, there is never-ending discussion as to the potential for AI’s role in business models, decision making, and enhancing the customer experience. As Gartner explains, AI and machine learning are going to increasingly appear in a variety of objects designed for specific tasks, ultimately solving problems that are currently roadblocks and making our world a more seamless experience.

5. An Expanded & Diverse Workforce

Not only will 2018 be the year of multigenerational and diverse teams, it will also be the year of coolabilities, a new talent market describing the enhanced abilities that co-exist with certain disabilities. While becoming welcome in the workplace, specific enterprises (i.e. the tech industry) will turn to individuals with such “coolabilities” as resource potential. For example, recruiters are already embracing those with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (Aspergers) due to “coolabilities” that enable them to be excellent software engineers. Come 2018, even more industries will be tapping into groups of these individuals, finding that they often excel in creativity, problem solving, etc.

6. Transformation of Work Culture & Purposeful Employment

Despite global industry-wide changes, management practices have been frozen in time for more than 30 years. According to Gallup's World Poll, many people hate their job and especially their boss. What this means is that outdated management practices are creating challenges for enthusiastic millennials and the like. By voiding work of real meaning (through forms, gaps, annual reviews, etc.) outdated practices are making it impossible for workers to grow and develop. As Forbes points out, companies that don’t embrace agility will face even more difficulties come next year. In 2018, workplace cultures must be transformed into places of energy, productivity, and meaning.

One thing is for certain, it will be an exciting year with big potential in terms of technological innovation. There is real potential for positive change in many of these advancements. Cheers, to a happy and innovative new year!