Tech Disruption in 2018

Forbes recently posted an interesting article on nine disruptive tech breakthroughs in 2018.  I found it to be a good read and saw some real parallels within the search industry.  I’ve shared my thoughts on these points below.  The full article can be found here, and I’ve included excerpts from each of their disruptors.

1. Low-Code And No-Code App Development

Low-code and no-code app development platforms are allowing citizen developers to easily create customized corporate apps to suit the unique needs of their company, their department and even their specific team. These visual coding environments, along with the use of machine-generated code, are capable of (and already are) transforming the way businesses approach enterprise software and workforce management as a whole.
Sean: It’s good to see the ground swell around low-code and no-code applications and integrations.  From a search perspective, this opens up the opportunity to increase findability into many more systems and lower the overall cost of ownership of search solutions. For IT, these types of approaches are force multipliers, allowing already stretched teams to gain productivity and deliver more value.

2. Increased Consumer Data Privacy

This has been an incredible year for privacy. For the first time ever, large companies like Facebook, Apple and Google are having to respond to privacy issues at the core of their products. From GDPR in the European Union to the rollback of net neutrality in the United States, privacy is affecting how consumers, businesses and advertisers use personal data in their products and services
Sean: Had this been my article, I’d have dropped the “Consumer” qualifier from that statement.  We see privacy consumers across the board.  From internal analytics tracking of employee activity, to cloud data protection for 3rd party data, privacy and the associated data protection that comes along with it are major topics.  The continued maturity of cloud platforms and security validations show that the industry is responding and taking privacy as seriously as it should be.

3. Voice-Based Applications

This was a breakout year for voice-based applications. With the rise of user-friendly virtual assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Assistant, we see people interacting with tech in an entirely new way.
Sean: From a business perspective, there is still a lot of skepticism about where voice fits into the enterprise. Will an employee that works within an open work environment feel comfortable talking to their computer?  From what we have heard, that answer is going to be no for a while.  Voice fits the mobile use case quite well, but the underlying theme here is natural language.  Be it voice, free text input, chat bot, etc. the real key is to drive applications to communicate with users in natural language first, then you can follow on with voice later.

4. Blockchain

Blockchain is the first truly decentralized technology, which has allowed it to exponentially speed up transaction processes and will most likely eliminate the need for third-party actors in any type of online transaction. The implications for this are huge in terms of efficiency and costs, but also because of blockchain’s versatility. This technology is game changing!
Sean: Blockchain is all the talk, and Blockchain developers are certainly in high demand and being paid a premium.  My word of caution is to avoid the hype, understand it deeply, and make sure there is a real problem it can solve.  As with any emerging technology, there will be a push to incorporate it simply based on its ground swell.  Someone will get burned because of that, so think smart here.

5. Healthcare IT

This year, the healthcare IT industry heard the calling, and many companies are joining the conversations and realizing that technology here has to change. Healthcare executives and business owners should follow the trend of cross-sector collaboration and inviting best practices from other industries. Technologists and healthcare practitioners will drastically improve technological innovation
Sean: We see this every day.  Healthcare and related fields generate massive amounts of information, and accessing this information is caught in legacy approaches and applications. Companies that innovate around access to information will gain an advantage over their competitors.  I see an innovation race happening here, and I think we’ll all benefit from it.

6. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Machine learning thrives on data, and enterprises have no shortage of sources. There’s data about what customers have browsed, bought and used, about the content they’ve read, documents they’ve downloaded and the results they’ve achieved. By allowing this data to be analyzed using machine learning models, you start to get predictions about what people are most likely to need next at a scale that’s not possible without the power of AI.
Sean: I’ll offer a little buzz word alert here.  AI and ML are game changers, but there also isn’t a common agreement as to what is or is not AI.  Organizations will need to cut through marketing hype and dig into the actual technology to separate fact from fiction.  My advice here is to integrate fast and integrate often.  Whole platforms that embed “AI” into a black box are risky, solutions that allow integrations with AI capabilities to solve specific needs provide the best long term play.

7. 5G Technology

5G technology is finally starting to roll out in 2018 and it promises to be revolutionary in several areas. Lightning-fast speeds and negligible latency will make new services and applications possible in the area of smart homes, virtual reality, telemedicine and connected cars, to name a few.
Sean: Yes please. Access speeds and latency need to continue to improve so that these next generation AI- enabled applications can respond as quickly as possible.  Speed increases adoption because no one likes to wait.

8. Augmented Reality

As our devices continue to learn more about how to recognize the world, the applications for AR continue to increase. We’re seeing leaps forward in analyzing motion, face tracking and shared environment detection. Now that multiple users (even across platforms) can interact and look at the same augmented reality from their own perspective, it makes the experience so much more valuable and fun.
Sean: The jury is still out on this one for me.  There are some specific use cases in corporations for these types of solutions, but we’re still a few years out until I would put this on a CIOs radar.

9. Real-Time Foreign Language Translation

Google’s Babel-Fish earbuds translate foreign language conversations in real time. Communication is a king. If we finally are capable of building that “Babylonian tower,” perhaps even the world’s peace will be more probable. It’s great to understand each other, isn’t it?
Sean: This makes me instantly think of the Star Trek universal translator, and it’s very cool to see this come to reality. To me, this builds on the same comments earlier around speech recognition and language processing.  Still a little way out for enterprise IT applications, but indicates a bright future in spoken interaction to traditional systems, regardless of what language you speak.
  Thanks to Forbes for putting that list together as it’s always good to take a step back and recognize where technology impact is coming from. It will be interesting to do this review again in 2019 and see what has changed.