Technology is rapidly changing the way we think, interact, work and play. Since 2003 Tigerspike has explored and navigated emerging technologies in order to keep ourselves, and our customers, ahead in this fast-paced market. Here you’ll find eight areas that we believe businesses should be particularly aware of in 2018 to gain or maintain competitive advantage.

Business strategy is now intrinsically tied to technology

We have entered an age where technology can be leveraged to achieve almost anything we set our minds to. The thought of a technology-led democratisation of the financial services sector was fanciful only 18 months ago; however, here we are captivated by the potential of blockchain to dramatically shift the balance of power and usher in a new era of trust, access, deregulation and efficiency.

In the context of the enterprise this capability brings with it the inherent danger that investment is made in the development of product and solutions because they can be done, rather than should be done.

Business strategy is now intrinsically tied to technology however technology must be viewed as the enabler to the strategy rather than the driver. Enterprises who make technology decisions based on how they will positively impact the experience of the intended end user will achieve the maximum return on their investment. Conversely, businesses whose investment in technology is driven primarily by features and capabilities will see minimal improvement in their business performance.

Predictions

Enterprise Blockchain R&D

The hype around the potential for blockchain in the enterprise will continue to build, however 2018 will see more R&D than actual business benefit as companies continue to learn how to deploy the technology in a real-world business context.

The King is dead, long live the King

IT will no longer hold all the power when it comes to the procurement of technology within the enterprise. As businesses evolve their thinking to place the needs of the end user at the heart of their strategy, 2018 will see the mix of people making technology decisions within companies change to reflect this.

Work is no longer a place

The lines between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. Thanks to Moore's Law technology is now so small and powerful that you can live and work anywhere in the world with an internet connection. As a result, we now use technology to be (virtually) anywhere, at any time.

These advances have drawn us closer to virtually yet, at the same time, have isolated us physically. This isolation has spurred a trend where people are increasingly using technology to connect and meet new people in the real world restoring a sense of community. Services such as WeLive, The Collective (co-living) and WeWork (co-working) are increasing in popularity as we continue to leverage technology to shift more towards being our true, human selves. We’re witnessing a trend where we’re breaking free from the constraints inflicted upon us by the industrial revolution’s ‘9-5’ mentality.

This is not a new trend. In 1997 a Hitachi Executive named Tsugio Makimoto coined the term ‘Digital Nomad’ in his book by the same title. Here, he and co-author David Manners predicted a world where increased network speeds and small but powerful devices would free us from our ‘cubicle and commute’ prisons — a trend we predict will continue to flourish in 2018.

Predictions

Businesses flock to work-from-anywhere policies

A large number of businesses that currently have rigid ‘you must be in the office’ policies soften their stance — allowing their employees to work from anywhere.

Multiple new co-living/working companies founded

As this is a relatively new market the landscape is ripe for more companies to enter it and make significant changes to how people live and work.

Augmenting of reality accelerates

The hype surrounding Virtual, Augmented and Mixed reality hit fever pitch in 2017 with billions of dollars invested and hundreds of companies created around the world. As the sun set on 2017 some of the hype may feel overzealous as consumer unit sales have, in the eyes of many, not hit the mark. But, in fact, according to IDC the worldwide market for Augmented and Virtual Reality headsets grew 25.5% year over year in the second quarter of 2017 as shipments reached 2.1 million.

Virtual Reality in the enterprise is a trend that’s steadily increasing, Canalys Analyst Jason Low recently said, "as top-tier PC vendors, including HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, and Dell launch their own VR headsets, using their distribution channel efficiencies, one can expect a strong VR uptake in business.” This outlook falls in line with Goldman Sachs and their prediction that by 2025 the use of these technologies in the consumer world vs. the enterprise will almost be a 50/50 split.

Of course no commentary on the ‘mixing of realities’ is complete without a mention of the world's most secretive, hyped and controversial startup, Magic Leap. Announcing the ‘Magic Leap One’ in late 2017 after a long wait, it appears they are gearing up for their first hardware release in 2018. After raising almost 2 billion dollars of funding they tout they’re about to usher in an entirely new era of computing by creating “lightfield photonics [that] generate digital light at different depths and blend seamlessly with natural light to produce lifelike digital objects that coexist in the real world”.

Predictions

One (more) breakthrough AR game will surface

In 2016 Pokémon Go added $7.5 billion to Nintendo’s market value in just two days. VR technology such as Apple’s AR Kit now offers a platform for the next hit sensation.

Magic Leap One will underwhelm

With such hype and anticipation, the world's most secretive startup has a lot to live up to. The experience is said to be ‘magical’ but is also said to be only launching ‘to creators’ in 2018.

Conversational UI continues to expand via voice and chatbots

2017 witnessed a boom in voice-activated search and technology. Voice is an entirely new way of interacting with the internet that’s proving popular with consumers and tech companies alike. Google Home, Amazon Echo, the upcoming Apple HomePod and other players such as Samsung, who are set to announce a home assistant of their own in the first half of 2018, are all aboard the voice train.

The ease of merely speaking vs. typing is driving the popularity of these services, and, with it, a change in how we interact with the internet altogether. Voice opens up a raft of new use cases because, all of sudden, you no longer need to be looking at a screen or typing on a keyboard. It’s perfect for driving, running, cooking, cleaning and skydiving - any task where you’re concentrating on anything but a screen.

The popularity of voice has spurred the creation of an entire market of new hardware products looking to become a mainstay of your voice-controlled world.. There are too many to list but examples include Hello Egg, a countertop product to help your cooking abilities while helping you plan your weekly meals based on your dietary preference. Netatmo offers a voice-controlled ‘Personal Weather Station’ and ‘Healthy Home Coach’, while sound experts Bose have recently integrated with Amazon’s Alexa to provide their wildly popular headphones an inbuilt voice assistant.

Predictions

Customer engagement shift to Messenger chatbots

Facebook Messenger has over 100,000 chatbots and 1.2 billion active users on the platform. This popularity will surge in 2018 and become a primary customer engagement platform for many businesses.

Voice-controlled interfaces enter the enterprise

The advancement of AI, deep learning, machine learning and the conditioning of humans to interact with voice interfaces will see voice-controlled experiences adopted in the enterprise.

The gig economy accelerates via technology platforms

The ‘gig economy’ is an employment market constituted of short-term contracts as opposed to permanent jobs. The gig economy is currently under heavy scrutiny with regulators clamping down on companies who are seen to take advantage of their workforce. In 2016 the UK government commissioned an independent review of what it dubbed ‘modern working practices’ to examine what it described as the “implications of new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities, as well as on employer freedoms and obligations”.

However, it’s a trend that’s exploding and no regulation will stop the train. It’s predicted that by 2020 43% of the US workforce will be freelancers. Research also suggests that long commutes can harm your health and that within the gig economy people are less likely to get sick and are more productive. In fact, Stanford University has shown that remote workers are 13% more efficient than office workers leading to many large companies investigating how to increase the number of gig workers on their books.

Underpinning this shift to gig (or freelance) working are numerous technology platforms. Uber is one of the most famous brands underpinning the gig economy and has built robust tools to support its global growth. Other businesses of note include TaskRabbit for getting odd jobs completed around the house, Dolly for your moving and delivery needs, HelloTech for your technology needs - and how about a culinary delight via Feastly?

Predictions

New models for ‘owning & organising’ appear

Just like Uber disrupted transport and Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry, new previously unexplored models for value creation and sharing will appear in 2018.

HR departments uncover new opportunities

The growth of the flexible talent pool, alongside technology enablement, offers HR departments an increased opportunity to influence business transformation within their organisations.

Cryptocurrencies as the blockchain’s poster child

For cryptocurrencies, 2017 was an incredible year and an unexpected year. It was the year where crypto went mainstream in the media and a hype was created which has been compared to the dotcom bubble and tulips. The currencies themselves have been hailed as the heroes of decentralisation and pasted as the harbingers of doom. The boom of ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) has seen its share of scams as well as valid and impactful fundraising options where traditional routes have failed.

The underlying technologies and networks have been pushed to their limits - primarily on speculative trading but with a few examples of applications making use of the technologies as they were intended. The strengths and weaknesses of the networks are being exposed making way for a 2nd and 3rd generation of networks. Growth and adoption has hit an exponential scale and is not slowing down in any way. 

Government and regulatory bodies shifted from a protective and cautious rejection of the technology to an understanding of the value and a comprehension that it is pressing forward in some shape or form. They now understand that if it is not embraced and properly regulated then it could cause serious damage to economies. The year ended sanctioning cryptocurrencies as an asset with futures opening and talk of ICOs potentially being considered securities and the IRS considering bitcoin to be property deals for the purposes of taxation.

Predictions

Regulation takes a stand

As it stands, governments and regulatory bodies are still unsure of where to place cryptocurrencies. 2018 will see a singular view emerge. What defines a cryptocurrency, a reduction of anonymity and clarity around regulation and cross border transactions will be firmed up.

Value of the platform is realised

The underlying technology will start to become more important than the perceived value of the currency itself. There will be a shift away from speculation towards the currencies that can actually make a difference.

E-commerce grinding down physical stores

2017 witnessed major retailers closing a number of physical stores and in some cases folding altogether. In the US, Macy’s announced the closure of 100 stores, JCPenney closed 138 and Sears closed 75. Toys R Us in the UK are in trouble, closing at least a quarter of their stores citing online and fierce competition. Even with some executives noting that “out of sight, out of mind” impacts e-commerce (and overall sales), there’s no escaping analysis that foot traffic is declining in many major retailers across 2016 and 2017, leading to closures and job losses.

There is an argument that retailers find value in physical stores for ‘click-to-collect’ purchases and using the physical locations for distribution. However distribution centres are often warehouses in low-cost areas, increasingly powered by robots, resulting in the economics of the ‘retail stores as distribution’ not adding up. Proshares has even set up a fund that is banking on brick and mortar retail failing called the ‘Decline of the Retail Store ETF’ (ticker: EMTY).

This of course is a sensitive topic for retailers and it’s a battle they say is far from lost. Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors in New Jersey, believes, “Walmart is transforming itself into a major competitor of Amazon,” and that he, “believes there will be some winners on brick and many online retailers will start looking more traditional.” 2018 will no doubt see this war rage on.

Predictions

Major retailer goes belly-up

Some major retailers are experiencing difficulties, closing some locations - but not all of them - in order to stay afloat. We’re going to go out on a limb and say someone will not make it through 2018.

Online goes indoors

As digital continues its growth and dominance, more and more retailers will look to bring digital into their physical stores to capture the inherent benefits of the medium.

AI & robots continue to enter all aspects of our lives.

Statistics tell us people are worried about robots taking over. Pew Research found in a recent study that, “70% of Americans express wariness or concern about a world where machines perform many of the tasks done by humans.” A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research supports this sentiment, with The Economist highlighting, “each additional robot in the American economy reduces employment by 5.6 workers.”

The reality is that robotics is flourishing regardless - and consumer demand, the drive for revenue, bigger margins and, in a number of cases, increased safety, is fueling the boom. Adding fuel to the fire are the upcoming 5G networks offering blazing-fast bandwidth to pipe the data required to make it all possible. This increased connectivity will power a new army of robots (not literally, yet) along with the sensor economy, smart cities, smart assistants, self-driving vehicles, and even ‘brain-to-vehicle’ interfaces to name a few.

The final piece of the puzzle for robotics is the umbrella term ‘Artificial Intelligence’. These were two of the big buzzwords at this years CES and it’s easy to see why. One reason for this is that the humanoid robot Sophia was in attendance. Sophia achieved fame when Saudi Arabia named its first robot citizen in 2017. Since then, she has called for women's rights and has also been given legs, causing the hype-engine to go into overdrive. Achievements like Sophia would not be possible without AI working in the background - and it’s this stack of technologies that will continue to cause ripples in 2018.

Predictions

Unrest towards robots escalates

Similar to the anti-robot rally in 2015, 2018 will see protests against jobs being lost to robots. This is likely to be triggered by the mass rollout of robotics that take human workers by surprise.

AI as a weapon

There is an arms race underway to use AI for cyber crime. Neural networks and machine-learning (amongst other AI technologies) have been used by security researchers for detecting and blocking hacks but in 2018 we’ll see hackers fight back using AI in ways we’ve not yet seen.

Understand how these trends may impact your business

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Understand how these trends may impact your business

Contact Us

or follow us to stay updated.