As we cross into 2018, what can we expect to see on the technology side of things? Here are my top 10 predictions (in countdown fashion). I recommend CEOs take a moment to discuss these trends with their CIOs/CTOs and evaluate which ones will provide the most value for your company and should be made a priority in 2018 and beyond.
10. TVs will get smarter and way, way cheaper. Ever heard of Element Electronics brand televisions? I hadn’t either until I found that their sets come equipped with Amazon’s Fire TV built right in. Same story with TCL TVs, which I only know about because they come with Roku streaming. These “off-brand” sets are gaining traction thanks to big-name technologies, while maintaining pricing that makes me seriously regret my (significantly more expensive) purchase a few years back.
9. Businesses will relent and embrace social software platforms. We’re nearing mainstream adoption for software tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. These Facebook-esque platforms reduce email clutter, streamline communication and facilitate collaboration. We’re all sick of splintered, endless email chains, and these intuitive and user-friendly packages eliminate that hassle from our day-to-day. By year’s end, I think we’ll be hard-pressed to find many organizations that still rely exclusively on email.
8. They’ll get smart about using technology to attract and retain millennials, too. Beyond the social software platforms, businesses will focus in on technology solutions that allow for better collaboration, mobility and real-time communication. These are the capabilities that millennials expect, and are the same ones that will help unlock their maximum potential in the workplace. Some businesses will be ahead of the curve with this, and others will shift their approach once they realize they have a turnover issue on their hands.
7. We’ll see more high-powered tablets running around. I expect Microsoft’s Surface tablet and comparable models to continue gaining ground. As companies become more and more focused on creating a highly-effective mobile workforce, they’ll turn their attention toward these powerful devices that travel well and are less intrusive in a business meeting scenario. Some of the “clone” devices – the Lenovo Miix and Asus Transformer, for example – are at a very attractive price point, too.
6. Buyers will get shrewd about the cloud. We aren’t intimidated by “the cloud” anymore. In fact, businesses are getting quite savvy about it; they know that not all clouds and not all cloud providers are created equal, and they’re asking increasingly sophisticated questions when it comes to vetting their options. Providers in particular will find themselves exploring elements like security, risk mitigation, productivity and collaboration in much greater depth than they’ve been asked to before.
5. In response, cloud providers will step up their game. More sophisticated buyers means a more sophisticated product. We’ll see more and more cloud offerings that cater directly toward a specific industry, specific compliance regulations, and specific software packages. The closer providers can get to a specialized plug-and-play product, the better chance they’ll have to get a leg up over their competitors.
4. IT services will get worse. The IT industry is teeming with mergers and acquisitions. As demand climbs for one-stop-shop IT outsourcing, service firms are gobbling up MSPs, telecom providers, cloud providers, cybersecurity firms, strategic consulting firms and whatever else they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, I don’t expect these transactions to result in better service; as these new conglomerates experience massive expansion, they’ll become so focused on integration that, for awhile, they’ll lose sight of their purpose: serving their clients.
3. Voice technology will creep its way into our offices. Amazon has released Alexa for Business, which functions as a voice-controlled “intelligent assistant.” We’ll see some brave souls experiment with shouting orders at a speaker on their desk, and we’ll see the technology evolve as developers respond to the feedback these brave souls offer. Eventually, I think voice command will find a home in the corporate setting… but not to any substantial degree in 2018.
2. Yes, a $1,000 smartphone will be a success. Remember when Apple announced the iPhone X and everyone promptly lost their minds about it being so expensive? $999 is certainly pricey when it comes to smartphones, but it isn’t unreasonable; there’s a large market of folks out there who will shell out this kind of money, and they’re precisely the group that will appreciate the subtle but functional (and elegant) changes Apple has made to this model.
1. LinkedIn will explode. Since Microsoft took over, LinkedIn has gotten a fresh new interface, native video, live messaging, trending stories, and I’m sure more is on the way. We’re going to start seeing businesses flock to this network – which is 500 million users strong – and leveraging it as a powerful tool for both recruiting and business development.