We’ve hardly scratched the surface of 2018, but it’s never too early to anticipate and prepare for technology trends and developments promising to shape the future of managed services — and the world. Although many of these developments pose beneficial opportunities for tech company leaders, they may also present challenges to those not ready for impending industry changes.
Here are the biggest trends of 2018 you need to know about and how they may impact your business.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
It’s no secret implementing smarter, faster programs into company workflows can offer sweeping benefits. From accurate, adaptable analytics to automation and beyond, some major disruptive developments entail artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Gartner researchers predict having the ability to use AI will “reinvent business models” and user experiences over the next several years. Although virtual assistants like Alexa are mainstreaming AI, experts agree the greatest changes will occur through implementing narrow AI, which utilizes machine learning to fulfill specific, data-intensive tasks. For companies whose leaders utilize this technology, this means advances in predictive decision-making and augmented analytics, which use machine learning to prepare data and discover deep insights for a wide range of solutions.
Smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT)
As with AI, advances in IoT applications promise to revolutionize analytics and networking. By increasingly and constantly connecting billions of IoT devices, business insiders are making leaps in data management and service automation. Perhaps more important, the amount of information and speed of analysis IoT offers is enabling many business professionals to work more efficiently and profitably than before. For example, truck manufacturers reduced their 180,000-truck fleet management costs by 80% thanks to versatile datasets they created using connected technology. IoT implementation benefits have prompted many industry power players, such as those at Microsoft, to invest heavily in IoT analytics, and savvy tech leaders are following suit.
It has become exceedingly clear in the last few years that virtual reality is useful for more than just video games. The technology underlying immersive digital worlds has disrupted many areas from user experiences to assistive technologies. Many major developments in augmented reality (AR), which provides visual overlays on physical objects, are proving their worth in the business arena. Gartner researchers predict that “mixed reality,” a technology that combines digital and real-world objects to create a virtual user experience while keeping users rooted in the present, is a key aspect of AR worth watching over the next five years.
Another AR-adjacent trend is the continued development of conversational platforms. Thanks to advances in AI and machine learning as well as AR, some company leaders have turned to chatbots for automating and streamlining their customer service interactions. Early conversational technology implementations were limited to highly structured, simplistic answers. However, according to the Gartner article, these platforms will likely evolve in the coming years as they become able to incorporate complex vocal and even visual data to complete user requests. More robust conversational technology stands to benefit those whose jobs span multiple industries by delivering advanced user-friendly interactive experiences.
Cloud services are becoming an obvious choice for many company leaders looking to streamline business operations. As a result, more and more business decision-makers are turning to MSPs, helping them to better understand, implement, and manage their cloud-based services with the added benefit of ongoing support. As a means to save costs, using public clouds is also becoming a go-to option for many. This, in turn, is driving an even greater demand for hybrid clouds. And as more business professionals better understand hybrid cloud advantages, flexibility, and value, many dub 2018 the “year of the hybrid cloud.” Based on increasing successes and demand, it’s likely cloud platforms will remain a force used for consolidating or eliminating antiquated on-premises business systems.
2018 should be an exciting year as many business processes are ripe for disruption as more and more company leaders recognize the benefits behind these technologies. Many are shifting their mindsets from the notion that these are simply buzzwords to understanding, realizing, and utilizing their value. Smart company leaders are already taking steps to corner these emerging technologies, working to innovate and increase value for their customers.