Welcome to 2018. My predictions consider what’s happening in technology — and how technology is changing society and business.

1. The Internet of Trust Takes Center Stage

By 2020, up to 50 billion devices will connect to the Internet of Things (IoT), generating data and analytics in support of automated and policy-based decisions. These business decisions will become immensely important, shifting the conversation from, “Is the data secure?” to “Is the data correct?”

It’s this nuance—the Internet of Trust—that will enable tremendous gains in IoT in 2018.

Part of the Internet of Trust, blockchain technology will boost IoT in the financial services industry by inherently resisting data corruption. And in global supply chains, organizations will increase traceability, while reducing the import of counterfeit and pirated goods.

The blockchain market size is expected to grow from USD 210.2 million in 2016 to USD 2,312.5 million by 2021.

Defense giant Lockheed Martin has begun to integrate blockchain technology into its supply chain risk management. They’re the first U.S. defense contractor to incorporate blockchain into its developmental processes.

The automotive industry will follow. While we somewhat trust our cars’ GPS systems, we need to 100 percent trust an autonomous vehicles. Will your car “see” those kids walking in the crosswalk ahead of you?

The communication interaction from devices to the vehicle has to be trusted and correct. If that data is manipulated and an accident occurs the potential loss or impact on human life will make or break companies.

The stakes are going to be much higher, and companies are going to begin to differentiate around trust. While security will continue to be important, the Internet of Trust will become the key enabler for adoption and, ultimately, success.

2. The Era of Convergence: Business, Social, and Political

The integration of social, business, and political will force companies to enter into what has historically been considered a “no fly zone.” As competition for technology talent intensifies, silence won’t be an option for businesses.

Keep in mind that by 2020, millennials and Generation Z will dominate the U.S. workforce. Plus, generation Z will make up 40% of all U.S. consumers. The tech industry is heavy with millennials and will also be a draw for Gen Z.

Be warned. They’re one of the most connected, aware groups out there. They’re self-educated, socially conscious, and concerned about the values of the company they work for.

Both groups will reshape the employment landscape due to their convictions and expectations that employers demonstrate similar convictions. One study found that 62 percent of millennials are willing to take a pay cut to work for a responsible company, versus the U.S. average of 56 percent.

Think about how businesses reacted to Donald Trump’s comments about the Charlottesville protests. Leaders from Intel, Merck, and Under Armour each took a stand against the comments. In 2018, and beyond, “taking a stand” will become the norm as companies hire upcoming generations who thrive on a values-driven corporate culture.

To maintain a workforce that will carry them into the future, companies will simply have to listen to their employee base and apply their corporate principles to social and political activities. Silence is no longer an option.

3. Data Has Gravity… Decision Making at the Edge

I travel extensively, and it seems every kid under the age of six has a way of finding me. Doesn’t matter if I’m in coach or first class. They love to show me their “enthusiasm” for flying. The entire trip.

When I realize in the terminal that I don’t have my headphones (yes, it has happened), I become a far different Joseph Bradley than the one looking for a pair of headphones on a weekend.

At the airport, I’m rushing to the nearest kiosk to buy headphones. Any noise-cancelling headphones. Any price. On the weekend, I engage in a conversation at the electronics store, comparing features and the value of available headphones.

Same person. Completely different real-time context. But what happens when real-time context is too late for determining consumer behavior patterns—even enterprise behavior patterns?

That’s where edge computing’s predictive capabilities come in. It’s also why edge computing use cases will pop up everywhere in 2018.

In just two years, 45 percent of all data created by IoT will be stored, processed, analyzed, and acted upon close to or at the edge of the network. And in just three years, 5.6 billion devices will be connected to an edge computing solution.

This doesn’t mean the cloud will go away. It will instead shift from an action-oriented environment to a learning environment. And once the cloud figures out what to do with that learning, it will push the decision making and rules down to the edge, where the edge analyzes real data. Then, the device will make a decision. Pretty nifty, huh?

4. Rise of the Humanities. Don’t Discount Those Philosophy Majors

Have you ever watched young kids, or Generation Z and beyond, do their homework? They’re asking Siri questions such as, “What’s the distance between the Earth and the moon,” or “Where can I find this information?” Artificial intelligence is enhancing their ability to learn and get work done.

This is made possible by a phenomenal growth in computing power over the past 60 years. Meanwhile, U.S. corporations are investing $350 billion annually in education, mostly centered upon STEM.

While these disciplines are important, I predict a rebirth of the Humanities beginning in 2018. It’s no longer just about figuring data. The computing power has the answers. It’s about thinking about how to phrase a problem to understand the question to ask.

For instance, Uber wasn’t about new technology. It was about fundamentally asking a different question about the transportation experience. Taxi cabs had the data to ask this question, but didn’t even consider it needed questioning.

Banks aren’t getting it right, either. They ask, “What account pricing and interest rates are required to increase savings account balances?” Instead, Squirrel (a fintech upstart) asked, “How do I keep savings top of mind, relative to other things in a customers’ life?” Based on this question, they created an entirely new banking model.

Another example? Retailers. They’ve spent a tremendous amount of time focused on reducing line length so customers don’t abandon their carts. Instead of trying to shorten line length, they should be asking how to eliminate lines altogether, à la the Apple store.

In a world where all the answers are known, value is found in knowing what question to ask.

5. Beware of Fools’ Gold. Data Ownership is the Real Gem

Analytics is big business. Worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will grow from nearly USD 122 billion in 2015 to more than USD 187 billion in 2019, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

But here’s the kicker. People are realizing that as they begin to perform analytics, the problem isn’t the calculation of the analytics, it’s in not having the data.

In 2018 and beyond, data assets will be the key to success. For instance, if you want to provide a service that predicts when a mobile asset, like a train, is going to fail, you need weather data structured the right way.

Problem is most companies today don’t own or have access to the data they need to solve their most critical and high value problems. Think of service providers offering TV services. At first, it was all about the distribution. Then people began to understand the real value was in ownership of the content. The same will be true with analytics.

Companies will invest in building out and owning data assets. And once they own the data, they’ll know things about their customers that no one else does. Imagine the power these organization will have to deliver exactly what their customers want and need.

There you have it. My five predictions that will reshape how value is created—and determine the winners of the digital age in 2018 and beyond.



Joseph M. Bradley

Global Vice President

Digital & IoT Advanced Services