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  • Ron Favali

Nine Technology Predications for 2018

This is always a fun time of year. With the Holidays approaching many seize the well-deserved opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. It’s also a time of reflection and of course prognostication.

This was a year of change for me professionally. Thankfully, I met the most basic of goals I set out in taking the entrepreneurial leap. The most exciting transition was moving from a role where I spent 100 percent of my efforts focused on a single technology to working with dozens of clients on a wide range of technologies. It was a refreshing change that broadened my perspective on many different areas of the technology landscape. There are so many exciting technologies in the start-up stage that will change the way we work, live and play.

On the prognostication front, here are nine predictions for IT in 2018. A couple may seem obvious, but a few others may not.

AR wins the AR/VR Enterprise Budget Battle. Augmented Reality will become one of the hottest application development trends of the coming year because of its ability to deliver immediate business value. More devices will include AR capability, which will instantly create new business models in areas including fashion, retail, home construction and decorating, urban planning, industrial repair, training, and education. Momentum around Virtual Reality will continue but concentrate on entertainment.

Smart Home Consolidation. The current Smart Home model -- led by Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and soon Facebook – isn’t sustainable. Each takes a proprietary approach to controlling and monitoring home appliances and other devices. Devices controlled by Alexa can’t communicate with Siri, which will put manufacturers at odds with who to support over the long term. Look for a deal among the major players, perhaps including a third party vendor, that makes smart homes technologies interoperable.

The Trough of Blockchain Disillusionment. I am not a skeptic of Blockchain. It is a great technology that will change how companies secure transactions. I am a skeptic of current Blockchain marketing. The reality of Blockchain is light years away from the hype marketers created in 2017, which saw companies rebrand themselves to include “Block,” “Chain,” or “Crypto” in company names. A few weren’t even technology companies. In this environment projects dubbed as Blockchain will fail, and it will officially enter the Trough of Disillusionment.

Silicon Valley Innovation Takes a Back Seat. This one has been percolating for a while. Startups and Silicon Valley used to be synonymous. However, there are currently two driving factors creating startup success across the country, specifically in the Heartland, Midwest, South, and Mountains, and even across Canada. The first is cost. Many smart people can’t afford to live in Silicon Valley, and Startups increasingly can’t afford to pay expected wages. The second is experience. In many cases, Startups founded outside Valley are lead by seasoned executives that have found a great deal of success in traditional enterprise roles. They are using this experience to fuel entrepreneurial ambitions. Their knowledge, built in customer network and lower operating cost environment will become more attractive to the Venture Capital community.

Cloud Commoditization. Today’s version of the Enterprise Cloud is a decade old. Enough already! Enterprise use of Cloud is here to stay. Vendors know it, and customers know it. Vendors still using multi-million dollar Ad buys to convince customers they can deliver Cloud will have failed. As with all commodities, Cloud as a delivery vehicle will become price sensitive. In 2018, the leaders will focus on the quality of services delivered. While most will be delivered through Cloud, the means on how those services are offered becomes less of a focus.

AI Consolidation Drives Success. We’re starting to experience some success in Artificial Intelligence, but the market is highly fragmented both in capability and message. Ask 10 people to define AI and you’ll get 10 different answers. On top of that, there are currently more than 2000 VC backed Startups focused on AI that have received billions in funding. They all can’t win. Major vendors will look to fill holes through acquisition and others will need to merge to survive and capture share.

The Rise of a New ISP. Let’s face it. The way we consume the Internet is broken. It’s tied to either mobile service providers or media conglomerates looking to protect a dying cable TV business models. This coming year we will start to see investment in new alternatives. It will take a few years to generate results, but this is an area ripe for VC investment. With the average consumer spending over $100 a month for home and mobile Internet access, the market is ripe for disruption, and the opportunity is definitely there.

Google Glass 2.0. It won’t come from Google, but there is an emerging need for capabilities delivered initially through Google Glass. While the obvious play is in media and entertainment through VR, there is a growing list of opportunities for using chips to track eye movement. From the sidelines of the NFL and youth soccer games, this technology can be used to identify concussions and other medical issues, to tracking eye movement as part of R&D for a range of products, glasses or headsets with eye scanning technology will come back to the forefront in 2018.

It’s The End of Apps as We Know Them. The current mobile app model has peaked. While the benefits they deliver will plateau for a few years, apps have inherent limitations that can’t be overcome in existing models. Mobile apps are largely proprietary and siloed. Mobile apps can’t communicate with one another and they certainly can’t share data. This problem will initially manifest itself in the smarter homes example above. The challenge will become more apparent in siloed approaches to Smarter Cities and Healthcare where multiple apps are needed for different services. The focus will turn from mobile apps to Intelligent Messaging that allows services to communicate with each other regardless of the underlying technology used to create them.

It will be fun to take a look back at this next year to see what landed where. Until then, debate, discuss, and of course, take a break and enjoy the Holidays.

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