Tech Trends of 2017 and Ones to Watch in 2018

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The following was published in the December 24, 2017 issues of Foster’s and Seacoast Sunday.

Earlier this month, I participated in one of three annual meetings of the board of directors of the Computing Technology Industry Association, CompTIA. I am presently the Immediate past chairman of CompTIA and remain on the board in support of the current chairwoman.

Tech TrendsDuring this month’s meeting, we undertook an exercise to identify key trends that impacted technology over the last year as well as those we think will have a key impact in the coming year. Our board is made up of a diverse set of individuals across the IT industry. I’m so proud that our board is an excellent example of diversity in our makeup. We always try to have appropriate representation of the industry, and our current board may be our most diverse in terms of business focus, size of company, race, gender, nationality and even generation. It made our discussions truly thought provoking as leaders from household name companies and ones you have never heard of shared their perspective.

In two press releases issued this week, CompTIA summarized these trends and I wanted to share them with you hear. It is a fitting look back at 2017 and forward to 2018 and the impact of technology on our lives.

2017 was certainly an interesting year for technology. Social media, specifically Twitter and its impact on global affairs rose to the daily spotlight, driven by President Trump’s need to tweet. It put short messages at the forefront of the international dialog about everything from politics to war.

Natural disasters certainly made their impact in 2017. Estimates indicate 15 events that totaled more than $1 billion in damages. Technology factored heavily into these events, from forecasting to recovery. Communication was the primary need throughout and improved technology kept us connected to those that needed our help.

Voice technology was an active segment in 2017 as voice assistants continues to penetrate the market, primarily in consumer applications. Many analysts expect evolving voice technologies to make an impact in the business sector over the coming year as new applications come to market.

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been very active in the second half of the year. Bitcoin has generated a groundswell of interest as its value has skyrocketed. Blockchain has gained tremendous traction in 2017, in part because it’s seen as enabling more assurances around data integrity and business process.

Looking forward to 2018, the board identified several trends that will impact technology. Among them are artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Artificial intelligence holds the potential to improve business processes based on machine learning. Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are a great example of artificial intelligence become mainstream. Applications that can analyze and correct potentially negative events in near real-time hold tremendous potential to help avoid industrial accidents and other similar events.

Cybersecurity will remain hot in 2018, especially with new regulations coming online, like the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets the standards to regulate the protection of EU citizen’s private information. The EU is taking a lead that frankly, our own government should have, years ago. It will be interesting to see if GDPR becomes the new standard by which companies are held.

How technology is acquired will continue to evolve in 2018. Subscription models for software have become the norm. Traditional companies like Adobe, the company behind the PDF standard, no longer offers software to purchase. Instead, you have to subscribe to a monthly subscription to use. Some hardware companies are experiencing with subscription models as well. This is not only happening in the technology industry. I recently read an article that the car maker Volvo plans to introduce a subscription model for one of its cars in 2019. That will be interesting.

Another significant trend for 2018 is something we have labeled “experience.” As in customer experience. The experience of how a customer acquires, deploys and maintains technology is expected to be a major focus over the coming year. Providers of technology services need to drive value by aligning their services to support the business strategies of the customer. The total experience of the customer will determine whether the service provider is a successful business partner or not.

It’s been another great year for the technology industry and 2018 looks to build on this success and take it to yet another new level. It truly is a great time to be in the technology industry. Best wishes this holiday season. As this will be my last column of 2017, I want to thank you for reading and contacting over the year. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!

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