As originally published in Chief Executive Magazine December 21, 2018.
Top 10 Technology Trend Predictions for 2019
What can we expect from technology in 2019?
Here are my top ten predictions for consumers and businesses alike.
1. “Artificial Intelligence” will take over.
That’s in quotation marks for a reason – we won’t see a robot takeover, but we will see a lot of products and services latching onto this term for marketing purposes.
The tablet I use to take notes, for example, just released an update that allows you to send your handwritten notes into their cloud database which will convert those notes into text. (Using what would have been called OCR in the past.) Or, as they put it, you’ll send your notes “to a well-trained AI that interprets and converts each letter, word, and sentence into standardized, editable typed text.”
Expect this to be one of the major buzzwords over the coming year.
2. Microsoft Teams will gain steam (but Slack will remain dominant).
If you haven’t heard about it yet, Teams is the all-in-one communication tool that Microsoft has folded into its outrageously popular Office 365 suite.
At its release in 2017, Team was clunky and unintuitive, and couldn’t hold a candle to the dominant player in that space: Slack. Over time, Microsoft has done what Microsoft always does – take user feedback and slowly but surely transform a subpar product into a formidable opponent.
That, combined with the fact that Office 365 subscribers have built-in (free) access to the platform, means that it will absolutely snatch up more market share in 2019.
3. Office 365, Office 365, Office 365!
Speaking of Office 365… adoption of this platform will continue to skyrocket.
Microsoft’s nearly unbeatable pricing combined with the widespread and enduring reliance on its Office products make this platform the natural next step for businesses who are looking to offer more accessible, more flexible cloud solutions to their team.
According to Bitglass’s Cloud Adoption 2018 War report, 56% of organizations worldwide use Office 365 in some capacity, up from 34% in 2016. This upward trend will continue through 2019.
4. You’ll see the Tesla Model 3 everywhere.
A November Wired article put this perfectly: “Fifteen years after its founding, Tesla has left the niche.”
Despite all the attention around Elon Musk and Tesla, the vehicles themselves have generally appealed to only a small portion of consumers. With the introduction of the more affordable Model 3, however, we’re going to see significantly more Teslas on the streets – and not just those in posh suburbs.
During the third quarter of 2018, in fact, the Model 3 cracked the top 20 of all vehicles sold in the US. That’s just the beginning.
5. Remote work will become the rule, not the exception.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, 25% of the US workforce teleworks at least part of the time, yet 50% holds jobs that are compatible with remote work.
What’s more: 80-90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time. When you zoom in on Millennials – who will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 – that percentage jumps to 95.
This demand for more flexible work arrangements combined with the accessibility of remote access technology means that businesses must embrace remote work wherever possible if they intend to attract and retain top talent, and ultimately remain relevant.
6. Businesses will finally embrace video conferencing.
Due in part to increasingly remote and mobile workforces, businesses will finally accept and promote video conferencing as a standard form of internal and external communication.
Subscription platforms like Zoom and BlueJeans have been making video conferencing simple and cost-effective for businesses for years. And it’s not like we have to invest in a ton of hardware anymore, either – we already have cameras and microphones built into our laptops and smartphones. Still, adoption has been less than explosive.
2019 is the year businesses will get over their lingering discomfort with video, and begin relying on it as a way to keep their staff and their customers engaged.
7. In response to ever-escalating cyberattacks, VPNs and password managers will become commonplace.
No, we won’t find the silver bullet for cybersecurity next year, sorry!
Instead, as the threat landscape only becomes more sophisticated and more dangerous, both consumers and businesses will become more wary of unsecure connections and weak passwords, and opt for tools like VPN applications and password managers – many of which are free for consumers.
8. Businesses will seriously reevaluate their file management strategy.
Between Google Drive and OneDrive, Box and Dropbox, iCloud and pCloud, and the dozens upon dozens of other cloud file storage solutions out there, businesses are having a hard time keeping their data centralized and protected.
Some employees, often with the best of intentions, pop company files into their personal accounts (which are rarely properly secured) to collaborate or work on an assignment from home. Other employees, with less trustworthy intentions, store company files in their personal accounts and take those files with them when they leave the organization.
Businesses are waking up to the risks this sort of file free-for-all poses and will make file management a priority in the coming calendar year.
9. The final vestiges of in-house server infrastructures will fade away.
Despite the massive popularity of cloud computing, businesses are still hanging onto physical servers here and there, often for heavy-duty software applications like accounting packages and document management systems.
That same 2018 Bitglass report found that 81% of organizations worldwide use cloud applications. While I won’t be so bold as to predict that this will hit a full 100%, I do expect businesses to continue making the shift to cloud versions of their software as their physical servers reach the end of their life span.
10. The gap between consumer and business technology will grow wider.
As businesses make the incremental hop into Office 365, consumers are ordering their groceries by talking to their refrigerators before initiating a quick video chat on their Echo Spot and then heading to the gym in their semi-autonomous car.
It makes sense that consumer technology advances at a faster pace than business technology – developers know there’s more money in consumer sales, and businesses can’t make large-scale changes to their systems without taking the time to evaluate and mitigate all the risks involved.
Still, while businesses advance on a fairly linear trajectory, the rate of change in the consumer space is exponential. And as the gap grows wider, we’ll see more impatience and frustration creeping into our workplaces. If your business hasn’t yet felt the pressure to bridge this gap, you will soon.