It seems as if changes in the technology sector happen more quickly each year, and this year is expected to be no different. As we settle into 2018, it’s time to think about the shifts that will begin to take shape as the year plays out. We heard from some of our clients on what the year ahead may hold in each of their areas of expertise. Here are some highlights and things to watch for:
“I think the biggest surprise in 2017 was the way organizations began to publicly support and voice their opinions on social causes and issues — even when controversial. This was evident in their content from blogs to advertising, and [organizations] used an array of technologies to reach their audiences across channels to accomplish this. As a tech company that offers AI solutions to understand buyer beliefs (narratives), it’s interesting how this has changed and evolved over time and become a natural part of brand identity for some organizations.
“2018 will prove to be the year that sees AI for what it is, an opportunity to enhance human capabilities and further insights into data-rich fields. As more organizations adopt AI technology and break down the barriers to entry, the more we can advance it across all industries and verticals.”
“I spoke to a lot of banks this year, and almost every time I did, I was surprised by the scale of the digital transformation, even within the more conservative financial sector. The consensus is that customer interactions are now split 95 to 5 in favor of digital platforms, and that the 95 percent is mostly mobile and mobile apps.
“Entire businesses have been turned upside down and the pace of change to digitization is still catching many by surprise. I spoke to one European bank that delivers more interactions in one minute on the mobile app than its entire branch network [does] in a week. An extreme example, no doubt, but a sign of where we’re headed.
“Next year, there are three main trends I predict to see in the mobile marketing space:
- The (Beginning of the) End of Marketing. As mobile and devices become pervasive in the consumer’s life, the old marketing model of interruption is no longer relevant. Consumers are now fully in control of their experiences and largely intolerant of what we used to think of as marketing campaigns. On that basis, successful brands will invest in providing ‘help in the moment’ – personal, relevant interactions rather than broader one-to-many campaigns. As a result, the way we think about marketing, and the way marketing departments operate, will have to change.
- Messaging on the Rise. This is not a new trend, but 2018 will see more of it. Mobile messaging apps will continue to do two things: cannibalize email as a way for people (and particularly young people) to talk to each other, and move toward becoming the new ‘mobile OS’ — meaning that the messaging platform itself becomes the environment within which brands must compete for attention and toward which they must migrate consumer interactions.
- Channel-agnostic Marketing. We hear a huge amount about multi-channel marketing and omni-channel marketing. Most of the talk comes from the wrong place, starting from an assumption that marketing is planned around the channel first (mobile, email, TV, etc.), and then integrating these efforts. The new reality is user-centered marketing that defines the individual, the message we want to send, and the timing required — and then simply selects the channel that will get the job done. The actual communications team doesn’t even have to know how a message got there, just that it did the job.”
“Over the last several years, we have seen the cloud platform space mature, and in this past year, it has become clear that ‘the cloud’ will be dominated by a small number of large public cloud providers, each of which will try to lock enterprises into their platform by building or acquiring differentiating capabilities that [they hope] enterprises will come to rely on.
“However, in 2018, I think businesses will actually push back on this by continuing to work with multiple cloud providers, with the goal of getting the best-in-breed and hedging their bets. I think this will have two side effects: Firstly, the ability to share data between clouds will be a key buying criteria, and enterprises will increasingly look for systems that seamlessly connect data from different clouds and with on-premise applications. Secondly, we will see even broader use of technologies that can seamlessly act as a broker between the public clouds, so that enterprises can leverage whichever cloud best suits their needs on a day-to-day basis.
“Also in the coming year, many more enterprises will deploy bot technologies to automate tasks that were previously done manually, and users will become increasingly comfortable relying on bots to get information. These bots will become much more sophisticated, as they take advantage of the tremendous leaps in machine learning and AI.
“This explosion in bot usage will bring about a major shift from ‘near’ real-time updates (which is really just batch data pulls at small time intervals) to actual real-time data processing. Like the shift to mobile apps quickly forced every customer-facing system to be made mobile-ready or mobile-first, the shift to bot technology will force companies to rapidly update their architecture behind the scenes to handle the growing volume of data requests that will demand a real-time response. After all, who wants to wait around for a bot?”
“In 2017 we saw confusion in the stream processing market with regard to which stream processing framework to use. Apache Flink, Spark Streaming, Kafka Streams and other alternatives emerged, all of which on the surface offer similar capabilities. Businesses that use these frameworks are scratching their heads as to which one to use, wondering if a clear leader will emerge. The net result is an unwanted side-effect: ‘solution sprawl’ and a lack of oversight and control over ingested data.
In 2018, expect more of the same, although a leader may emerge. Initial confusion will shift to standardization with most companies picking their favorite. While Spark Streaming appears to be the lead horse, expect sprawl due to residual left from prior investment and multiple frameworks persisting across the business. Fortunately, businesses can use multiple frameworks without worrying about losing control over their data by selecting a data operations platform that includes a living data map with auto-updating capabilities. This allows application of continuous integration and continuous deployment methods for stream processing within data flows.”
Artificial intelligence helping people, advances in mobile marketing, expanded uses of cloud computing and competition in the stream processing market are just a handful of things to look for in the tech sector in 2018. If this busy first month of the year is any indication, new trends are likely right around the corner.