There has been a host of disruptive technologies that hit 2017, becoming the talks of conferences, boardroom discussions and technology roundtables around the globe. While the talk about the “Future is now” and machines taking over has never been more vocal, might the narrative change to “it’s more of humans and machines being in the same loop?”. 2018 promises to be a year that technology truly touches and improves all aspects of our lives, enabling the new age of digital enlightenment. Affecting both consumers and businesses on a large scale.
Here are some of the technological trends that will steer the world this coming year, welcoming us to the future.
- Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning
Humans of the world continue to churn out large volumes of data, while business users are trying to mine that data to determine patterns and predict user behaviour. AI implementation, propagating through machine learning and deep learning will become more universal, because of its ability to develop more intelligent products and services. Personalised experiences, based on user preferences will be more common, yielding in consumer appreciation of intelligent devices and peripherals.
As businesses seek to make better and faster decisions, Business Intelligence and data analytics adoption will be on the increase as well as AI and Machine learning.
Artificial intelligence will have a bigger influence in the process of relationship building among colleagues, customers, and partners. Facial recognition technology will be built into remote collaboration tools to read visual cues.
AI and machines will soon become prevalent in the business and professional world. Machine intelligence has the potency to sway worker demand and displace millions of jobs. The workforce industry is on course to be disrupted, jobs such as virtual assistants, to manual labor and intermediary services are at the forefront of this disruption. Even though humans are integral to certain fields, certain optimised processes can be fully automated with embedded technology.
Machine learning gaining more traction in 2018 is unavoidable, as it’s being integrated into all technologies, like Apple who launched machine learning for iOS apps. Platforms are adding it to make life and software more intelligent and advanced. It will take over mindless, repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
We have seen a rise of chatbots in customer service and support in the past few years, chatbots Today, chatbots— the automated, human-like chat responders are going more mainstream as people see their benefits, especially in customer service and support. Unlike human customer service and support reps, chatbots don’t have the physical and mental inconsistencies that can degrade service levels. Moreover, AI-powered chatbots are learning how to respond to customers and predict what they want.
Based on customer history or questions customers ask during a chat session, AI-powered chatbots can ask users what they need and even ask leading questions, all to improve the support experience.
Business users, too, are eager to have computers understand natural language. Natural language processing can enable these business users work with a computer directly via speech. In response, the computer can render a visual or auditory response, depending on the user’s preference. The use of natural language bots will amplify from use as automated customer service agents to become routine for daily living.
In 2018 Home bots will do more than just respond to inquiries, to being able to provide timely information such as, “It’s time to take your medicine” and also “keep on eye on the kids and your pets”.
Bots will be able to augment your purchasing decisions and give notifications regarding future occurrence such as “don’t make that purchase or you will be over your credit limit” or “your cable subscription expires in two minutes.
Bots will help children by improving education, act as financial investment advisors and even teach you yoga.
- Digital Currencies and Blockchain
Blockchain technology is a way of securely managing access and information. The core of blockchain hinges on the idea of decentralization, which essentially distributes power and risk equitably across players in a network.
Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies reaching over $300 billion in total value , is on a clear path toward wide adoption, with proofs of concept shifting toward production and leading organizations exploring multiple concurrent use cases.This adoption of blockchain technology will result in enabling consumers to purchase physical products and services using cryptocurrencies from the world’s major online retailers.
The new year will be the time for standardizing the technology, talent, and platforms that will drive future blockchain initiatives.
Blockchain technology won’t be limited to cryptocurrencies in 2018. Blockchain is now discovering applications in diverse regions and sectors, including government. It may be the end to paper ballots, enabling a change on how votes are collected and minimizes the risk of fraud or manipulation. Blockchain technology may be what helps more voices get heard in government matters and policy decisions.
While Bitcoin has gripped attention and skyrocketed in value, more digital currencies are springing up to challenge its leadership. A daring prediction will be that some major retailers will hop on the cryptocurrency bandwagon and issue their own secure currency next year.
- Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality
As AR/VR slowly begins to integrate into our environments, its many use cases are becoming imminent. With the swift transformation in the way we interact with technology and data, there has never been a better time to embrace digital reality.
Ultimately, our forms of interfacing with digital information will likely no longer be screens and hardware but gestures, emotions, and gazes. This represents a stride comparable to historic transitions from client-server to the web, and web to mobile.
A projected total spending on AR/VR products and services will spike from $9.1 billion in 2017 to nearly $160 billion in 2021 says the International Data Corp. (IDC).
AR/VR use cases in industries such as enterprise (education and training for employees, Modeling for companies looking to adopt more of an iterative design process and ) and retail/Sales (consumers will have the ability to “try” before they buy, do side by side virtual comparisons of similar products) .
- 3D Printing
Even Though 3D printing is still relatively new, it is disrupting manufacturing, and other industries, in many optimistic ways. The plunge of talent into the 3D printing scene has brought about a host of new insights.
In traditional manufacturing, some sort of cutting tool is used, to cut or hollow objects out of a material. However in 3D printing, the object is created by adding layers of material. The variety of materials used in 3D printing has increased, now almost any conceivable material can be used: plastic, metal, concrete, liquid, powder, even chocolate or human tissue!
3D printing allows far more complex shapes to be created than in traditional manufacturing, while using less material. It also allows for much greater customization of products, without worrying about economies of scale.
Recently, 3D printers have become affordable and easy for use by the average consumer. As demand for 3D printing continuously surges, 3D printers will be as commonplace as desktop inkjet printers.
3D printing opens up amazing opportunities for manufacturers and consumers alike as it continues to advance. Crafting ideas and designs into real life objects will become easier and cheaper.
2018 will see of seeing this technology continue to penetrate the manufacturing and consumer segment even more.
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
The huge gains in connectivity will enable steady growth in IoT, driving lots of investments in the sector. while there are some painstaking issues, such as fragmentation, potential data breaches and security issues, the advent of blockchain technology might have the answers to these issues like IOTA’s tangle technology.
With more and more devices coming online every single day, we’ll see a rise in more consumer-friendly, easy-to-use connected devices.People are cozying up to the convenience of Siri, Alexa, and Google Home, and will continue to court connected and smart devices that are fun, new, and convenient.
The potential for fast growth can never be underestimated in this uber-connected world. Many of the IoT products that are already on the market will become more advanced, easier to use.
Then there’s the concept of smart cities, where nearly all its processes will be shaped by IoT. There are some countries already formulating the concept of smart cities, giving telling signs of something groundbreaking happening in the future.
Indeed, the future always comes bundled with unpredictability. Even Though these trends are pertinent to the imminent digital revolution,it is hard to say how fast they will unfold. But we can be confident of the fact that the future will be different than what it is today.
It seems from the direction of these trends that machines will take up most human work. Where will everyone go and do when machines can do our work for us? This is the question, amongst others, that will be lingering in our minds in 2018.