The modern world is changing more and more quickly with each passing year. If you don’t pay attention to these new changes, it’s easy to fall behind the times (and the market) while other companies beat you to the punch. The solution? To keep abreast of current changes – at least at a level of basic understanding. Adding to that, if you can’t understand the buzzwords others are using in conversation, it’s much harder to look smart while participating in that conversation. In this post, we’re going to give you the 10 IT & technology buzzwords you won’t be able to avoid in 2018, so that you can stay poised to take advantage of market opportunities and new conversations alike.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Already in our shortlist of tech buzzwords 2017, Artificial Intelligence is on the front scene for next year again. Scientists have been working on AI for years and in 2018 we will see some more new applications. We have already mentioned Artificial Intelligence in our Business Intelligence trends for 2017, and we will probably talk about it again in the future, given the major importance it assumes.
AI refers to the autonomous intelligent behavior of software or machines that have a human-like ability to make decisions and to improve over time by learning from experience. Currently, popular approaches include statistical methods, computational intelligence and traditional symbolic AI. There are a large number of tools used in AI, including versions of search and mathematical optimization, logic, methods based on probability and economics, and many others. In business intelligence, we are evolving from static reports on what has already happened to proactive analytics with real-time dashboards assisting businesses with more accurate reporting. They indeed enable you to see what is happening at every moment, and send alerts when something is off-trend. An important part of artificial intelligence comprises machine learning, and more specifically deep learning – that trend promises more powerful and fast machine learning. An exemplary application of this trend would be Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) – the predictive analytics method of analyzing data. Neural networks create a system of interconnected layers with each subsequent layer acting as a filter for more and more complex features that combine those of the previous layer. This feature hierarchy and the filters which model significance in the data, make it possible for the layers to learn from experience. Thus, deep nets can crunch unstructured data that was previously not available for unsupervised analysis.
You can see an application in business intelligence with the datapine solution, that comprises an AI algorithm based on the most advanced neural networks for its alerts. That way, any anomaly is identified with a high accuracy, as it learns from historical trends and patterns: every unexpected event will be notified, and an alert sent.
Some more examples of AI application can be found in various domains: in 2018 we will experience more AI in combination with big data in healthcare. Heart monitors, health monitors and EEG signal processing algorithms are already on the research frontline. Likewise, major advances have been made in the field of self-driving cars, as Google’s standalone company Waymo logged 4 million miles of autonomous driving in 2017. Additionally, Uber is teaming up with Mercedes Benz to have self-driving Mercedes on the road sooner rather than later. Another direction in which AI is heading is the introduction of a truly smart smartphone which would be able to make stuff for us. For example, you could tell your phone about the trip you plan and it would book the most convenient flight, hotel and rental car for you. Likewise, 2017 was the year of virtual assistants: Alexa, Cortana, all of them have taken the consumers’ market by storm. It is not going to stop in 2018, as their development is never-ending; Google Now and Siri have become ubiquitous, thanks in large part to the voice recognition software becoming much more powerful over the past year. Siri, Cortana, and Alexa all share similar roles – enabling us to live one step closer to the futuristic notions of having AI virtual assistants that can do anything we need on a whim. Who knows, maybe AI will even have the potential to make or at least help us with our strategic business decisions in the near future.
Regarding the future growth of AI, it is undeniable. The research firm Markets and Markets for instance, estimates that the AI market will grow from $420 million in 2014 to $5.05 billion by 2020.
Internet of Things
Without a doubt the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most influential IT & tech buzzwords of recent years and will continue to grow in popularity as its applications will become more and more tangible.
With the Internet of Things, the physical world will become one big information system. Everyday physical objects will be connected to Internet and to each other creating the ambient intelligence. The new task of designers will be facilitating of an ambient user experience that smoothly flows across and exploits different devices. The device mesh refers to an expanding set of endpoints people use to access applications and information. It includes mobile devices, wearables, consumer and home electronic devices, automotive and environmental devices — all sensors in the Internet of Things that interact and cooperate with each other and that will constitute our Internet-connected reality.
The major holdup right now preventing the “smart home” revolution from happening is that there are too many differing platforms on the market. Google, Amazon, and Apple each have their own “ecosystems” that don’t play well with each other. However, it’s likely that soon this problem will be solved by the forces of innovation and capitalism – so keep an eye on this space in 2018.
The blockchain is the trendiest trend of the past years that keeps growing. This IT buzzword was on everyone’s lips already last year, after the Bitcoin made history when it surpassed the price of gold for the first time. In 2017, its value climbed from less than $1,000 to over $10,000 (at the moment we write, it is of $10,698). After its breakthrough in 2016, 2017 saw the recognition and this is why it will continue through 2018, where everyone will want to know how the success story continues.
Everyone has heard of the blockchain, but few actually understand how it works due to its relative complexity, so we will try to introduce it here. The blockchain works with Bitcoin, and depending on the circles you run in, Bitcoin was either:
- The shadiest thing that has ever happened to the internet
- The coolest innovation in modern currency, ever
- A non-factor since you had no idea what it was
In order to clear up any potential confusion, Bitcoin is a system of currency that doesn’t rely on banks, countries, or any outside institutions. This is potentially a very big deal, as there are many people living in developing countries that have to deal with issues like hyperinflation, not being able to exchange their currency for others, and having to exchange currency on the black market.
Bitcoin can solve all that – but the technology underlying Bitcoin, called blockchain, is the real star of the show. Blockchain is what enables Bitcoin users to be able to exchange currency without any fear of being ripped off or getting “counterfeit” Bitcoin. Basically, blockchain works by keeping a record of each transaction that happens using Bitcoin as a currency. This record is completely transparent to everyone and is part of the fundamental structure of Bitcoin.
As Investopedia puts it: “To use conventional banking as an analogy, the blockchain is like a full history of banking transactions. Bitcoin transactions are entered chronologically in a blockchain just the way bank transactions are. Blocks, meanwhile, are like individual bank statements.”
This blockchain structure makes it very difficult to forge Bitcoin or do any sort of fraudulent activities involving the currency itself. And indeed, its solidity is shown as blockchain is starting to be used by major banks around the world as a way to pay large amounts of money with less time spent on security, thanks to the safety of the blockchain. For example, in October 2016 Wells Fargo and The Commonwealth Bank of Australia made history by using blockchain to facilitate paying for a shipment of cotton from the U.S. to China.
Digital Detox / Digital Productivity
In the midst of our technology buzzwords for 2018, we wanted to drop one rising expression that wouldn’t exist if it was indeed for technology. We are not technophobes, so we are not afraid to say that the digitization of everything brought a lot of positive things to our societies, facilitated exchanges and connections, work, health management, saved us a lot of time and enabled companies to produce more, grow, and make more profit. But at the same time, all the aspects aforementioned have their identical “dark twin”. Technology facilitates exchanges between people but also easily spreads hatred speech at the same time; it connects people to better isolate them; it helps healthcare professionals but impacts everyone’s health, it helps companies grow and profit, but creates a lot of unemployment at the same time. Modern technologies and more specifically digitization can be praised and cursed at the same time, as it touches every aspect of our daily life that has been totally disrupted by it.
It is of no surprise then, that the need arose to take a break from this constant change, constant solicitation and permanent connection to the world in our digitized life. Not only because it harms our mind and body in different ways, but also because it impacts our workday and workforce efficiency.
Many people have developed the “phantom vibration syndrome”, that sensation to feel or hear our phone buzzing while it doesn’t. Studies show that today’s teenagers with smartphones are more depressed and sleep less and not as well as before. The FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is now a daily anxious spurt for most of us. On a professional level, the break from work is harder as our phone reminds us about it all the time, and in many jobs, being a 100% of the time connected and available unfortunately prevails. Some countries like France or Germany try to regulate the out-of-hours emails to avoid burnouts and underpaid employees working around the clock. One in four person in the UK spends more time online than sleeping. Our brains have no downtime, boredom, sleep, or focus.
This is why some “digital detox” trips are blossoming everywhere and becoming increasingly popular: the concept is to be totally disconnected from technology – and especially from our smartphone, that we touch over 200 times a day. Hotels, retreats, forest camps, meditation seminars, the idea is to be outside the daily environment, making it easier to disconnect. Some neurologists have studied the effect on the brain and the body during these trips and they are tangible: better posture, deeper friendships, improved memory, no more conversation-killer (“Google it!”), better quality sleep, new perspectives…
On the workplace side, many “digital productivity” tools and adds-on emerged as well, to contain the constant flow of news, beeps, emails, notifications, that disturb so many meeting or focused-work time. While in the 1970s, a top-executive would receive fewer 1,000 phone calls, telexes or telegrams per year, she/he has to face today a tidal wave of 30,000 emails and other electronic communications annually. Many tools are developed every year to facilitate communications and unclutter emails boxes, calendar meetings and foster collaboration “the old way”. At the same time, phone apps (only for Android) are emerging to block any type of notification that would disturb you from working, studying or anything else.
With such an exponential innovation pace in technology, it can be nice to remind ourselves and the world that humans and human brains are no machines and no computers, and that the unfathomable wave of data and solicitations we are exposed to every day might become too overwhelming – and a digital detox is all we need to reconnect with ourselves.
Microservices / Microservice Architecture
The fifth of our technology buzzwords is more IT-related. The microservices, also known as microservice architecture, is a method of developing software systems different than the traditional one and that has grown in popularity over the past years. It is an architectural style structuring an application as a suite of deployable services that implement some business capabilities.
There is not much out there about such architecture if just some observations and deductions from the common characteristics recognized. And just like there is no “official” definition, there is not one standard model represented in every system based on this architectural method. As we said, microservices can be decompose into several component services, so that these services can be deployed, twisted, and redeployed independently. That way, the integrity of the application is not compromised by the changes. The microservice architecture is organized around business capabilities, and has cross-functional teams for its development, unlike the traditional “monolithic” development method. They design it in a way that it can cope with failure: as there are several services communicating together, one might go down; then, everything should be designed so that the neighboring services can keep on functioning. That adds substantial complexity to the microservice architecture, with regards to the monolithic one. Finally, the microservices don’t like old-fashion ways of centralized governance. Its developers aim at creating tools that can be used later by other people to solve similar problems: decentralized governance is preferred. Likewise, the data management is also decentralized: while monolithic systems use a single database across different applications, the microservices have a unique database managed by each service.
To sum up, the microservice architecture focuses more on products rather than projects, is organized around business capabilities, adjusts for service breakdown, and has a decentralized data management and governance. Such architecture enables the continuous delivery and deployment of complex and large applications, and thus helps companies to evolve their technology stack. A warning, if we may give you one: many IT professionals advise not to start with microservices, but with a monolith. Keep it modular and then split it into microservices once the monolith architecture becomes problematic and you need to evolve.
Martin Fowler summed up the difference between the two architectures in an expressive image:
Source: Martin Fowler
Quantum Computing will continue being a major technology buzzword in 2018. In general quantum computers can solve much more complex problems than classical electronic computers by using quantum bits (qubits) instead of binary digits (bits). This means that the data doesn’t have to be limited to two defined states any more: 0 or 1. For this reason quantum computing is much more flexible by allowing computations to be performed in parallel.
However, the real challenge is how do quantum machines really carry out these quantum computations. Scientists have been researching in this field for decades, so it may still take some years before quantum computing becomes a reality.
Another IT buzzword to mark with a cross, is the serverless architecture. It refers to an application that relies on third-party services (or “BaaS”, Backend as a Service), or on custom code run in ephemeral containers (also called “FaaS”, Function as a Service). The name can however be misleading: serverless computing is not running code without servers. It is called serverless from a developer’s point of view: the person or the business who owns the system doesn’t need to buy, rent or provision servers or machines to run the backend code. In short: they don’t have to manage servers.
The serveless code can be written in combination with more traditional server style such as microservices, that we described above. Currently, the most famous vendor host is AWS Lambda. As they state, by using there serveless cloud, you are allowed not to think about servers, and thus you do not have to deal with over or under-capacity, scaling, deployment, or logging anymore. It is about abstracting users away from servers, infrastructure, and dealing with low-level configuration or the core operating system.
It is convenient because it lets developers focus on their central business problem and focus on it, instead of worrying about patching xyz web server another time, or spending too long on building complex system. However, not all applications can be implemented serverless-style. Legacy systems or public cloud bring limitations. Serverless architecture does bring benefits like reduced operational and development costs, reduced time to market, and an enhanced productivity, there are some downsides. It is not suited to high-performance computing and its workload, because of the resources limits imposed by cloud providers. The performance can be challenged as well, as serverless codes that are not used frequently will be “spinned down” by the cloud provider to the contrary of a code running continuously on a dedicated server or container. That means a greater response latency.
Mobile first is not exactly a new technology buzzword, but it will be accentuated in the years coming. Software providers have realized that users have many different interfaces to the Internet, and to access what they want. They’ve stopped assuming that users – and employees more specifically – do most of their works sitting at their desk in front of their PCs. There is hence the need to develop software and apps that are adapted to these alternative ways of working and use habits.
Mobile first answered that need, by accommodating desktop computing in a way that fits the flexible work style of the mobile and smartphone era. As the name states, it designs the online experience for mobile before designing it for the desktop: a real change in paradigm. First an issue for B2C businesses who have to adjust to permanently changing consumers habit, it has reached the more defined, traditional working-style professional world, and B2B companies are increasingly moving towards mobile first – or at least, “mobile too”.
That is a trend that also came to the business intelligence world. Today, with solutions like datapine’s, you can take your data everywhere you go and work with it flawlessly. We know that modern businesses are not restricted to the physical limits of an office and the opportunity to access and work on your analytics whenever and wherever comes in handy. Digital nomadism is not just for hipster bloggers travelling the world – mobile BI accompanies you with its flexibility and ease of use, whichever device you chose to work with.
Dark data is an increasingly searched and used expression, simply because dark data is growing in every company and organization. Everywhere, people are building up endless oceans of data, and it starts in our own personal life, we are “data hoarding” everything (saving up countless identical photos, text messages, presentations, documents, etc). And dark data is just that: everything that is produced and stored under the “just in case” mantra – instant messages, zip files, duplicates, archived web content, partially developed and then abandoned apps, emails, code snippets, … and so many more.
According to Gartner, dark data is “the information assets organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes”. They compare it to dark matter in physics: dark data often composes most companies’ universe of information assets. But this shouldn’t be turned into a data nightmare. It incurs costs of storage, but what is more problematic is that it makes it harder to find the actual valuable information, leading to potential missed opportunities. Gartner again is rather pessimistic on the matter: by 2021, over 80% of organizations will fail to develop and implement a solid data security policy across departments, inducing potential security flaws, non-compliance, and financial accountability. It is always more expensive and risk-incurring to store and secure useless data.
This will be the work of information managers to implement the right tools and train their workers to overcome data hoarding, if we don’t to see dark data making the shortlist for our technology buzzwords 2019!
Actionable Analytics / Self-Service Analytics
We already mentioned actionable analytics last year, and it makes the shortlist of technology buzzword for 2018 as well, as the volume, velocity and variety of big data will push business analytics to become more actionable. In 2018, software will crunch and correlate structured data and move closer to the point of action in real time. As opposed to older systems that primarily aggregated and computed structured data, actionable analytics tools will be able to reason, learn and deliver prescriptive advice.
New self-service business intelligence tools will provide users with advanced analytics and friendly user interfaces that would enable autonomous and informed decision-making. Business people will be able to pull valuable data insights whenever and wherever they want, as cloud-based warehousing enables easy access on-the-fly. In theory, missed business decisions won’t belong in the future but some decision-makers will still ignore data and follow their guts – humans will remain the weakest part of the system.
What Are The IT & Technology Buzzwords For 2018?
2018 holds a lot of exciting tech innovations in store, that we don’t know about yet. We can however sum up here the 10 IT and tech buzzwords that we believe will be abundantly discussed in the coming year:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Internet of Things
- Digital Detox / Digital Productivity
- Microservices / Microservice Architecture
- Quantum Computing
- Serverless Architecture
- Mobile First
- Dark Data
- Actionable Analytics / Self-Service Analytics
The rate of change in our modern world is accelerating with each passing year. However, by keeping pace with these changes, you can take advantage of new opportunities in the market that your slower competitors either can’t see or can’t act upon quickly enough. Hopefully by reading these 10 technology buzzwords to watch out for in 2018 you’ve learned what to pay attention to in the headlines – the rest is up to you!