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The Top 5 Tech Trends for Seattle Businesses in 2018

By:Christine Fettinger

Technology is evolving faster than ever. Sometimes trends that seem promising – like virtual reality – fall a little flat while others explode.

Check out our predictions for 2018’s tech trends:

The Proliferation of Blockchain: Blockchain was not new to 2017, though it was undeniably one of 2017’s tech buzzwords. A search for ‘blockchain’ on Gartner’s website increased by 400% in February of 2017. Blockchain is still mostly associated with cryptocurrencies. However, blockchain technology has a larger potential range of applications than just in the financial industry and Bitcoin, some of which we may see in 2018.

With the highly secure and transparent nature of blockchain, blockchain adoption will likely move into other areas of industry and society like insurance, healthcare, and entertainment. Utilizing blockchain technology in elections could minimize the risk of election fraud and manipulation. Brands could leverage the transparency of blockchain to prove their coffee is fair trade or their clothes are not made in sweatshops. Blockchain could reduce costs and speed up supply chain transactions because it eliminates the ‘middle man’ from some processes.

Augmented Reality over Virtual Reality: Virtual reality has neglected to become as ubiquitous as it was once touted. Instead, augmented reality (AR) has pulled ahead.

The 2016 popularity explosion of AR-based Pokemon Go demonstrated there is a true demand for AR applications. Generally, AR is both cheaper and easier to use. Not to mention, the tech gadget you need for AR is something most people already have: a smartphone.

Companies like Apple are creating sets of tools that enable developers to create augmented reality apps. These could change the way we shop and work. The new IKEA Place app would allow you to select furniture from its website and place it virtually in a room. A car salesperson could change the model, color, and customized features of a car on the dealership’s showroom floor. We are going to see more apps that harness the power of augmented reality.

IoT into More Business Applications: Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become increasingly commonplace in our personal lives over the past couple years. Smart home devices that control your lighting and thermostats, as well as Google Homes and Amazon Echos, are everywhere.

2018 will see more business-oriented IoT applications. The International Data Corporation estimates that more than 80 percent of IoT spend through 2020 will be on B2B applications and use cases. IoT Software as a Service (SaaS) could help organizations skip on-premise implementation, get up and running quickly and have more flexibility. Retail could benefit from IoT by connecting better with customers and improving their customer’s journey to ultimately grow their brand.

Tools like Digital Twins could help improve operations with digital data that monitors product qualities and potentially predicts failures. Digital Twins are virtual doppelgangers of the real-world thing that could help product developers create, test, build, monitor, maintain and service products in a virtual environment

Increased Edge Computing: The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices has fueled the need for edge computing, which will likely increase in 2018.

Edge will become the choice for processing and analyzing real-time data. Edge computing can help industries like manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and telecommunications analyze their data quicker. Sometimes it is not efficient for IoT devices to be constantly connected to a central cloud. Edge computing could aid in the buildout of 5G cellular networks, which also may come in 2018.

Edge computing allows data produced by IoT devices to be processed closer to where it is created instead traversing the longer routes to data centers or clouds. This allows organizations to analyze data in near real-time and reduces latency. The most important and relevant data will still head to the cloud and data centers.

More Secure IoT: This may be more of an ideal, but with the proliferation of IoT and the already apparent security weaknesses, better security on IoT devices should be a 2018 priority. DDoS attacks increased 91% in 2017 largely due to unsecured IoT devices.

Device manufacturers and application developers should take a proactive approach to designing security features and follow best practices. End users should also be proactive in changing default credentials and passwords on IoT devices, although this is not always easy or straight-forward.