Five things in tech to watch out for in 2018

Complete this sentence to win a prize for your technology insight: “2018 will be the year of…”

Rather like the missing word round in Have I Got News For You, the answers will range from the obvious to the hilarious – AI! Blockchain! Internet of things! Voice recognition! Driverless cars! Virtual reality! Go on, add another few dozen well-used industry buzzwords. Do a Google search, you’ll find someone has written every article already.

We can pretty much guarantee that 2018 will not be the year of anything in particular, other than the usual onward march of technology adoption and the further infiltration of the digital revolution into every aspect of our life and work – and the backlash against both.

Not wishing to be left out, here are five things that are likely to be much discussed this year – not an exhaustive list, but we reckon these will come across the desktop of most IT leaders in 2018.

GDPR

Let’s get the easy one out of the way. You have until 25 May 2018 to become compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be implemented in the UK through the new Data Protection Bill. At Computer Weekly, we’ve already written each week’s story from now to May about how many organisations have yet to comply. Data protection isn’t going away – even if we’re still trying to understand where to draw the boundaries. The real fun starts when the first household-name company gets sued for a GDPR breach.

IT ethics

Whether it’s about social media, online age verification, artificial intelligence, data privacy or the working practices and lack of diversity of the tech sector, ethics is going to underpin much of the existential debate around the future of our digital society. Take it seriously – choose to be an ethical digital organisation. One day, people will look back and despair at how long it took for tech to make ethics a priority.

IT investment

There’s a growing acknowledgement that the core of the UK’s productivity gap with our international counterparts comes down to a lack of IT investment by corporations since the 2008 crash. CBI research gave us a wonderful soundbite last year – that UK take-up of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) is lower than it was in Denmark in 2009. If we want the UK to compete internationally post-Brexit; if we want to get wages growing again; if we want to create more high-value jobs – then the government needs to find a way to persuade companies to increase how much they spend on new technology.

Identity

Identity is perhaps the biggest challenge of the digital economy. How can we prove we are who we say we are to organisations we may never meet or physically transact with outside the virtual world? Getting digital identity right is the key to unlocking so many online opportunities, from public service delivery to open banking. The government has tried to crack this with Gov.uk Verify, but has gone down a dead-end and needs to find a way out. Better public/private co-operation is likely to be the answer – and it needs to happen this year.

Serverless

OK, we had to use a proper tech buzzword somewhere. Serverless computing is the natural evolution of virtualisation, cloud and agile development – the next step to a true pay-as-you-go utility model for computer power. This year, expect to see early adopters getting seriously into serverless, most likely by testing out the capabilities of Amazon Web Services. Serverless is the future of the datacentre – or for most organisations, the future without a datacentre.

Tell us your thoughts for 2018 in the comments below…

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