At Seamgen, we’re excited about the future of technology, and we believe 2018 promises to be a landmark year in the technology space. We recently asked several technology experts what we should expect in the technology sector this year. Some of the key areas that these experts said we should watch include:

1. Machine Learning

For years computers have only done just what they were programmed to do. While this is still technically true, techniques are being developed that allow machines to continually refine their algorithms in response to data. These advances in machine learning will revolutionize the way the world works, according to David Libertalis, founder and CEO of visual search engine Visii. Machine learning excels at identifying patterns, Libertalis says, and it opens the door for large-scale automation as smart device proliferate and send the data from their sensors back to (the cloud, the main system, the ML system, etc). It also helps businesses discover unprecedented data insights – something that sets the stage for the fourth Industrial Revolution, Libertalis points out.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence has been around a long time, but its capabilities are expanding greatly with the addition of machine learning to make the devices even smarter. Alexandra Kovaleva, marketer and technical writer at custom software development company DDI Development, says she expects many applications and services to incorporate some level of AI in 2018. She also anticipates intelligent “things” will use AI to interact more naturally than ever before with end users and their environments.

3. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

VR and AR are changing the way that people connect with the world around them – just ask any of the 5 million Pokémon Go trainers around the globe. However, the VR and AR markets are currently “adolescent and fragmented,” Kovaleva states. But in 2018, Kovaleva says virtual, augmented, and mixed reality will continue to evolve and change the way that people perceive and interact with the digital world.

4. Cloud Computing

Expect an “edge-cloud AI ecosystem” to develop in 2018, says Dr. Spincer Koh, CEO of video Internet of Things (IoT) platform provider Gorilla Technology. Edge computing, the processing of data at its source, multiplies the computing power available to a system, providing the centralized servers with pre-processed data. A hybrid edge-cloud AI ecosystem delivers advanced processing at the device level, Koh notes. As such, this ecosystem provides enterprises with a “new way of programming, securing, and storing data,” Koh points out. Additionally, the ecosystem creates new innovation, development, and growth opportunities for enterprises across all industries.

5. Data Services

While data services have been around since bankers were reading stock prices off of a ticker-tape, the explosion of computing power and the reduced cost of storage are leading to a proliferation of data services across industries. Data services will be “one of the most fundamental technological shifts” in the years to come, Koh says. In fact, the combination of IoT devices, the increasing digitization of everything, and the marriage of AI and visual computing will soon enable individuals to tap into a rich vein of data that was previously unavailable.

6. Information Security

Equifax, Yahoo, Uber, and even the National Security Agency (NSA) were among the prominent organizations to admit that they suffered data breaches last year. Ratinder Ahuja, founder and CEO of cloud security microservices platform provider ShieldX Networks, says businesses and consumers should expect new, increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks and data breaches this year. To minimize cyber risk, Ahuja recommends organizations double-down on employee cybersecurity education and awareness, increase security controls on identity and access, improve audit trails and their frequency, and use advanced anomaly detection tools and methods.

7. Physical and Digital Security

The line between physical and digital security is blurring, and 2018 may be the year when both types of security finally converge, Koh says. Therefore, organizations that maintain the status quo relative to security risk falling behind cybercriminals. And as a result, these organizations may be exceedingly susceptible to cyber attacks and data breaches.

8. Video Cameras

What will be the most-disruptive IoT technology in 2018? The convergence of video cameras, edge computing, and recognition algorithms, according to Koh. He notes 1 billion connected video cameras are expected to be deployed worldwide by 2020. Meanwhile, video cameras possess “huge untapped potential,” Koh says, and are capable of not only recording, but recognizing, data in video with voice, location, time, and more.

9. Blockchain

Blockchain, aka a distributed ledger technology that makes it easy for business professionals to securely monitor all aspects of their transactions, is evolving. Its ability to guarantee that transaction details have not been modified is becoming its most important feature. It was once a digital currency infrastructure, but in 2018 blockchain may start to serve as a foundation of disruptive digital business for both established enterprises and startups, Kovaleva says.

10. IoT Job Growth

The IoT will drive job creation in the United States in 2018, according to Carl Rodrigues, CEO of enterprise mobility management solution provider SOTI. Rodrigues expects IoT job growth in the following industries:

  • Manufacturing: The IoT provides big data and metadata to help manufacturers make fast, informed decisions, lower their operating costs, and reduce their environmental impact.
  • Healthcare: The Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT), a subset of the IoT, is rapidly growing. In 2018, many healthcare providers will use IoHT devices to cut costs and provide care to patients in remote areas.
  • Transportation and Logistics: The trucking industry’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is leading the transportation and logistics industry to embrace IoT technologies. Now, IoT devices enable trucking companies to track vehicle locations in real-time, ensure packages and goods are delivered on schedule, and re-route trucks based on accidents, road closures, and inclement weather.
  • Retail: The IoT helps retailers improve their customer experience levels and supply chain operations, as well as create new channels and revenue streams.

As more companies leverage IoT technologies, these businesses could simultaneously enhance their day-to-day operations and lower their operating costs too.

11. The Development of “Conversational Business”

The days of making phone calls to stay in touch with consumers are quickly coming to an end. Most of today’s consumers prefer to use messaging apps over voice, Rurik Bradbury, global head of conversational strategy at messaging and bots platform provider LivePerson says. And as messaging apps and voice assistants like Alexa and Siri transform how consumers communicate with businesses, brands need to ramp up their digital capabilities to meet customers on these conversational interfaces, Bradbury notes.

Keep a close eye on the aforementioned technology trends in 2018. By doing so, you can stay on track with a fast-paced technology landscape in 2018 and beyond.