8 Predictions for 2018

2017 has seen many trends emerge and grow: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing … there were many. Time to take a look at what’s coming down the pike next.

We as human beings of the 20th and 21st century are used to working with machines. But over the last couple of years they have come ever closer to our personal and private lives. This becomes evident in our connected cars, homes, business and banking transactions already; it’s even transforming how farmers manage their crops and cattle. Michael Dell himself once said:

“In the future it won’t be a question of people or machines, the magic is people and machines. We’re entering the next era of human-machine partnership, a more integrated, personal relationship with technology that has the power to amplify exponentially the creativity, inspiration, intelligence and curiosity of the human spirit.”

And this development will be picking up pace in 2018. Here are the 8 big trends we’ll see this year:

Prediction 1: AI will do the ‘thinking tasks’ at speed.

In 2018 we’ll start to finally just act on data, not curate it. AI will do data-driven “thinking tasks” for us and therefore reduce the time we spend scoping, debating, scenario planning and testing every single innovation. Sure: some theorists are already claiming that AI will replace jobs. That may be true. But the simple fact is: It will also create new ones. Need for new types of IT professionals focused on AI training will emerge.

Prediction 2: Embedding the IQ of Things

With the cost of processing power decreasing and a connected node approaching $0, soon we’ll have 100 billion connected devices, and after that a trillion. The magnitude of all that data combined, processing power with the power of AI will help machines better orchestrate our physical and human resources. We’ll evolve into ‘digital conductors’ of the technology and environments surrounding us. Technology will function as an extension of ourselves. Every object will become smart and enable us to live smarter lives.

Prediction 3: We’ll don AR headsets.

2018 will be the year in which the lines between ‘real’ reality and augmented reality will begin to blur. AR’s commercial viability is already evident: professionals like architects and engineers are using AR headsets to visualize new builds or products. VR on the other hand will undoubtedly transform the entertainment and gaming space in the near term, thanks to the immersive experiences it affords.

Prediction 4:  A Deeper Relationship with Customers

45% of leaders in mid to large organizations believe they could be obsolete within 5 years. 78% of them see start-ups as a threat to their business. It’s never been more important to put the customer experience first. Over the next year, companies will better understand and serve customers at, if not before, the point of need. Customer service will pivot on perfecting the blend between man and machine. So, rather than offloading customer interactions to first generation chatbots and predetermined messages, humans and automated intelligent virtual agents will work together, as one team.

Prediction 5: Bias check will become the next spell check.

Over the next decade, emerging technologies will help people find and act on information without interference from emotions or external prejudice, while empowering them to exercise human judgment where appropriate. In the short-term, we’ll see AI applied to hiring and promotion procedures to screen for conscious and unconscious bias. Meanwhile VR will increasingly be used as an interview tool to ensure opportunities are awarded on merit alone, e.g. by masking a prospective employee’s true identity with an avatar.

Prediction 6: Media & Entertainment will break new ground with eSports.

In 2018, we’ll see increasing numbers of players sitting behind screens or wearing VR headsets to battle it out in a high-definition computer-generated universe. As hundreds of millions of players and viewers tune-in, eSports will go mainstream. Additionally traditional sports, like cycling, have upped their game by harvesting data to identify incremental but game-changing gains. In the future every business will be a technology business, and our leisure time will become a connected experience.

Prediction 7: We’ll journey toward the “mega-cloud.”

In 2018, businesses will start moving toward a multi-cloud approach, taking advantage of the value of all models from public to private, hosted, managed and SaaS. However, as more applications and workloads move into various clouds, the proliferation of cloud siloes will become an inevitability, leading to poor outcomes. So, as a next step, we’ll see the emergence of the “mega cloud”, which will weave together multiple private and public clouds to behave as a coherent, holistic system.

Prediction 8: The Year to Sweat the Small Stuff

Due to our increasingly interconnected world and interwoven relationship with machines, small subtle failures can lead to mega failures. Hence, next year will be a year of action for multinational corporations, further inspired by the onslaught of new regulations such as GDPR.  Prioritizing the implementation of cybersecurity tools and technologies to effectively protect data and prevent threats will be a growing imperative.

About the Author: Dell Technologies