What to expect from technology in 2018 – lawsuits, voice controlled devices and blockchain

From lawsuits to edge computing gaining traction, here are the top 2018 business tech predictions to watch.

2017 has been a busy year in the technology space. There was the announcement and subsequent availability of the iPhone X which sent consumers into overdrive and the use of social media by the President of the United States in a headline-inducing way which has never seen before in politics. Alongside this, the release of WannaCry malware and the discovery of the vulnerability in the WPAII platform (or Krack attack as it has been dubbed) both caused untold worry for businesses and security teams alike.

But with these developments, for the most part, behind us, what can we expect from technology in 2018? Here are a few of my predictions for the next twelve months.

There will be an explosion of lawsuits and stories around the unregulated or unscrupulous collection of data from personal devices

Lawsuits may be one of the unexpected side effects of a company gaining access to and using data produced by a personal device, but it’s also something we are going to be seeing a lot more of in 2018.

Whether it’s a smart watch, phone, thermostat, headphones, smart fridge or bathroom scales, there is almost nothing preventing the companies producing these devices from using the personal data they collect. Yet there remains huge uncertainty surrounding what exactly this data consists of, and how it is being used by organisations.

With laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the right to be forgotten on the horizon, things are set to change. Manufacturers need to be aware of, and prepare for, the potential issues these regulations pose if they continue with their current data collection practices. While there may be uncertainty around how exactly they will be affected, those who don’t are at risk of huge and potentially business-threatening fines, as well as lawsuits.

We are seeing increased investment from large organisations in voice controlled devices and subsequently the expansion of the market. Products such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming ever-more present in our homes, but now consumers are comfortable with these devices in their personal lives, will they make their way into the commercial realm?

I predict they will, with the proliferation of voice controlled devices becoming especially relevant for blue collar workers and those within the logistics sector. In fact, with Amazon having already announced plans for Alexa for Business, it won’t be long before organisations understand the benefits these devices could bring, with drivers soon being able quickly and easily call in potential issues and order products while on the road. Alongside this, labourers, who use their hands a lot, will be using voice controlled assistants to support their day-to-day roles, all the while increasing business productivity.

Blockchain will bring bitter business rivals together as partners, despite current reluctance

As a technology, blockchain will start to drive new partnering behaviours between previously bitter competitors both inside and outside of the financial services industry.

While this sounds unbelievable at the moment, next year will see the rise of committees and consortiums of competing companies in the same industries getting together to share information over a blockchain as they realise the optimisation benefits of doing so far outweigh the competitive silos. It won’t take long for the advantages of sharing information about people and investments over a blockchain to become clear, and this sharing economy to become second nature to competitors.

Net neutrality is going to change edge computing as we know it resulting in best practices

Net neutrality – the principle ensuring Internet Service Providers treat all data on the internet the same, without discrimination – is not only going to be the catalyst for new products and feature functions within software, but it will also turn edge computing on its head. Edge computing is a method of optimising cloud computing systems by performing data processing near the source of the data, and as businesses realise they want to send less data over their networks, they’ll want to do more work at the edge.

As this becomes best practice within organisations, we can expect to see a boom in edge computing in 2018 as it becomes the norm.

While only time will tell whether these predictions will come true, 2018 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for the technology sector.

Ian Currie is the EMEA director of Dell Boomi.

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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