Top 20 Technology-Driven Hard Trends Shaping 2018 and Beyond

Daniel Burrus highlights his top 20 technology trends that present themselves in a broad array of applications and industries.

Daniel Burrus

Daniel Burrus

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing Applications Advances in machine learning and AI, such as Google’s DeepMind and IBM’s Watson, coupled with networked intelligent machines and sensors will create a giant leap forward thanks to exponential advances in computing power, digital storage and bandwidth.
  1. Adaptive and Predictive Cybersecurity Systems With the rapid growth of connected technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles, security systems will move beyond reacting faster to include adaptive security systems using AI and other advanced tools, such as behavioral analytics.
  1. Big Data and the Use of High-Speed Data Analytics The goal is to bring enterprise-wide visibility and insights that enable making rapid, critical decisions. Using advanced cloud services, high-speed data analytics will increasingly be employed as a complement to existing information management systems and programs to identify actionable insights from a mass of big data.
  1. Advanced Cloud Computing Services Businesses of all sizes will increasingly embrace new variations on public, private, hybrid and personal mobile clouds. This represents a major shift in how organizations obtain and maintain software, hardware and computing capacity to cut costs in IT, human resources and sales management.
  1. Virtualization of Storage, Desktops, Applications and Networking Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) is increasingly joining Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), creating what some have called “IT as a Service.” Virtualization of processing power will continue to grow, allowing mobile devices to access supercomputer capabilities and apply them to processes such as purchasing and logistics. These services will help companies cut costs, as they provide access to powerful software programs and the latest technology without the expense of a large IT staff and time-consuming, expensive upgrades.
  1. Virtualization of Processes and Services (On-Demand Services) The virtualization of processes and services will increasingly be accessed by companies needing to update and streamline existing services, and to rapidly deploy new services. The rapid growth of collaboration-as-a-service, security-as-a-service, networking-as-a-service and many more is giving birth to everything-as-a-service.
  1. Blockchains and Cryptocurrency Given their security and lower cost, blockchains create a platform that will impact limitless products and services. Look for applications in health care, supply chain and finance to grow rapidly.
  1. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Apps and Devices Commercial growth in VR will focus on more specific industries. For instance, it’s already being used by architects and designers to show potential clients specific features of buildings prior to actual construction. But that’s just the beginning. AR and VR will soon shift from a single-user to a multi-user social experience.
  1. Smart Virtual e-Assistants and Voice-Enabled Devices The use of smart e-assistants is accelerating, offering what is rapidly becoming a mobile electronic concierge available on any smart device, including phones, tablets, televisions and cars. Soon retailers will have a Siri-like sales assistant, and soon many of us will be using an e-personal health assistant that taps into the real-time health data from a smart watch to predict potential problems and offer suggestions.
  1. IoT Becomes Increasingly Intelligent Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications using chips, microsensors and both wired and wireless networks will join networked sensors to create a rapidly growing IoT, sharing real-time data, performing diagnostics and making virtual repairs, all without human intervention. By 2020, there will be well over 50 billion “things” talking to each other, performing tasks and making decisions based on predefined guidelines using AI.
  1. 3-D Printing (Additive Manufacturing) of Finished Goods Personalized manufacturing of finished goods using 3-D printing will grow exponentially. This allows companies to manufacture one-of-a-kind or small runs of items quickly, locally and with far fewer costs.
  1. Smarter Smartphones and Tablets Drive Mobile Process Innovation The vast majority of mobile phones sold globally have browsers, making a smartphone our primary computer. This signals a profound shift in global computing, allowing businesses of all sizes to transform the ways in which they market, sell, communicate, collaborate, educate, train and innovate using mobility. An enterprise mobility strategy that puts mobile first is rapidly becoming mandatory for organizations of all sizes.
  1. Mobile Apps for Business Process Innovation As we increasingly transform business processes using mobility, use of mobile apps for purchasing, supply chain, logistics, distribution, service, sales and maintenance will grow rapidly. There will be an increasing focus on business app stores within companies, giving the company a competitive advantage and giving users access to the personalized information they need on their mobile devices anytime and anywhere.
  1. Mobile Banking and Payments Mobile banking, using smartphones as eWallets, is finally taking off on a larger scale in the U.S. thanks to an increasing number of phones with secure mobile banking apps, Near-field communications (NFC) chips, biometric identification and the use of tokens where no credit card or personal information is exchanged.
  1. Wearables and Applications More complex software and applications will drive further innovation and sales in other wearable technology. One example is a patch that can be attached to the skin for remote disease management, diagnostics and general health via wireless transfer.
  1. Social Business Applications Social software for business will reach a new level of adoption, with applications to enhance relationships, collaboration, networking, social validation and more. Marketers and researchers will employ social search and social analytics to measure real-time sentiment of large groups of targeted people.
  1. Visual Communication for Business Visual communication takes video conferencing to a new level thanks to free programs like Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and others for video communication on phones, tablets and home televisions. Businesses of all sizes are rapidly embracing this as a primary relationship-building and communications tool.
  1. Enhanced Location Awareness for Retail Location awareness using in-building systems allows customers with smartphones to navigate stores and quickly find what they are looking for. This, combined with geo-social marketing and AR, will drive the creation of more business-to-consumer apps. In addition, geospatial visualization combines geographic information systems (GIS) with location-aware data, radio-frequency identification (RFID) and other location-aware sensors (including identifying the current location of users from the use of their mobile devices) to create new insights and competitive advantage.
  1. Drones Reach a New Height Adding AI The explosion of hobby drones will drive innovation for both personal and industrial applications. Drones have already proven to be of high value for search and rescue, and are rapidly being applied to many industries. For example, agriculture uses drones to check crops, fences and cattle; utility companies use them to look for downed power lines; and real estate agents use them for aerial photography.
  1. Energy Storage and Microgrids Energy storage starts to become a reality as companies such as Tesla begin to sell their smart battery systems (SBS) to businesses and homes that generate some of their own power using solar, wind or other systems. In addition, as first-generation hybrid vehicles get too old for the marketplace, there will be millions of batteries that will still hold enough of a charge to be repurposed into inexpensive energy storage systems. This will enable a national network of smaller and more secure smart microgrids.