The latest developments that encompass the business technology market/space — from artificial intelligence (AI), to digital transformation to blockchain — are so much more than a string of buzzwords — they are a series of solutions that are reshaping enterprises for the 21st century. And these new developments are propelling business technology forward, delivering on some of the most promising concepts ever dreamed up that will reshape global economics and commerce.
Here’s where the industry is set to go in 2018, with vivid insights from Merritt Group leaders.
What do you think will be the hottest trend in business technology in 2018?
Shahed Ahmed, Senior Vice President and Partner, Technology Marketer, Head of Marketing Services
Google’s Ray Kurzweil talks about artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology and nanotechnology as the defining innovations of our generation. I tend to agree, as we’re seeing a huge amount of startup investment and new applications, especially in the areas of AI and biotechnology (nanotechnology is still mostly prevalent in research circles and is probably a few years out as a practical solution).
And, given the buzz around bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies to end 2017), I think we’ll see more mainstream media focus on the underlying blockchain technology — with more startups building on blockchain and more companies helping manage and trade cryptocurrency.
What are the next big buzzwords you think will take over the tech industry?
Pazia Colella, Account Supervisor
Blockchain. No big surprise here — I think we’ve all gotten a sneak peek in recent months at the buzzword that will be dominating headlines in 2018. People are still trying to decode this mysterious and exciting technology, and awareness is spreading like crazy. Be prepared: “blockchain” will be to 2018 as “big data” was to 2012.
What early-stage innovations are you seeing that excite you?
Suzanne Block, Account Supervisor
People are starting to play around with emotional intelligence (EQ) and artificial intelligence (AI), which I find really fascinating. We’ve been telling ourselves that certain skill sets or professions are “safe” and won’t be replaced by AI, but it’s inevitable that EQ and conventional intelligence will merge.
What will AI and machine learning look like at the end of 2018?
There will be a lot more “narrow AI” intelligence applications, meaning that specific AI applications, as opposed to mass adoption of AI, will continue to emerge. Right now, it is mainly the connected car, and perhaps personal digital assistants. In 2018, we’ll see smart machines master and automate more tasks. And the potential for job loss is real! With self-driving deliveries, or quality assurance or manufacturing line automation, we may start to see careers change and evolve — this could start a trend that stays with us for a while.
How do you think the conversation around blockchain will play out over the next year?
John Conrad, Executive Vice President and Partner
I think this year we will see lots of blockchain education. Beyond cryptocurrencies, we are seeing more conversations about what else blockchain can do for your business or organization. For example, we’re already starting to see a number of vertical industry use cases — beyond financial services applications — emerging around health care, legal, supply chain and IoT. While blockchain will be a hot topic of conversation in 2018, adoption and real-world use cases will be limited because enterprise CIOs are still trying to figure out how it will transform their business.
What was your biggest takeaway from business technology media coverage in 2017?
That everything is cyclical. Look at some of the big trends in media this year — a lot of it is a refreshed version of things that were stirred up in years past, like the internet of things, or the next hot data job title (think data scientist, to chief data officer, to data storyteller). There is real innovation happening, but consumer expectations and the reality around the time and effort required to bring some of these technologies to fruition just don’t align. That’s why we end up getting amped about the next big thing before it’s had time to mature or have an impact in the market. Be prepared for current trends like IoT, big data and AI to phase in and out of popularity as they evolve.
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