8 technology predictions that will shake things up in 2018

Every year, technology changes the way we live and work. 2017 certainly didn’t disappoint. Think: facial recognition, augmented reality, wallpaper thin TVs, mobile printers, new payments systems, and worrying cyber-attacks that should encourage every business to raise their computer system security.

While I don’t have a crystal ball, I believe 2018 will be another year of fast, easy to adopt tech developments. Here is a rundown of eight trends set to shape our world.

Voice-activated assistants

Voice assistants or smart speakers are destined to account for a growing share of our interactions with technology. The demand for Google’s smart home ecosystem have been more than surprising, and not just from the early tech adopters. Individuals from all demographics are buying these devices to dim the lights, order pizza and stream their favourite playlist all from the comfort of their couch.

Based off these actions alone, have you thought about how your business is going to integrate with voice assistants? Are you searchable via voice commands? And do you have products that people could integrate into their “smart home” to use as part of this voice control revolution?

Bitcoin

Digital “cryptocurrency” isn’t going anywhere. While it might be hard for us to wrap our heads around the term at a dinner party, it’s important to recognise Bitcoins are becoming a legitimate form of payment.
There are a number of Australian retailers increasingly adding the digital currency as an accepted method of payment. With 53 retailers, Melbourne has the most outlets from cafes and pubs to equipment hire and exercise facilities. Depending on the nature of your business, Bitcoins may be an avenue to explore. You can rest assured however that the Australian dollar isn’t going anywhere… yet. At the very least, you should remain informed on the trend and understand how Bitcoins may impact your business down the track.

IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been bubbling away for several years, and it’s set to grow exponentially from 2018 and beyond. But what exactly is ‘The Internet of Things?’ Put simply, it’s an umbrella term for any device that connects to the Internet – from security systems that can sense a notification to your mobile phone when the alarm at your premises is activated, to vehicle devices that provide analytics and tracking on livestock which helps farmers understand the movements of their cattle.

It won’t be long before all devices and products have some form of connectivity. Big changes will be felt in the retail industry, with retailers being able to market their products better, track inventory and manage loss and theft. At a consumer level, shopping experiences improved and the sales process will be more personalised than ever before.

NBN

The National Broadband Network is currently rolling out in full steam, with completion due in 2020. Already more than 50% of Aussie homes have access to the NBN, with more than 3,000,000 are connected.
These connected homes are doing things faster than before and have higher expectations when it comes to speed and service. As a business owner what does this mean for you? First, evaluate your own web presence to ensure you’re not creating any blocks. Secondly, take advantage of extra bandwidth by providing access to higher resolution, richer content.

Instant messaging

Customer service is changing at a rapid pace. Consumers today are willing to look for an answer online rather than speaking on the phone with an operator. With this behavior in mind, implementing instant messaging platforms – be it via the web or social media- will ensure your customers get the answers they want, when they want.

Solar

Due to the falling prices and environmental pressure, solar technology is growing in popularity. Many businesses are considering the benefits of the up-front capital expense of a solar installation and how the reduced OpEx costs might be of benefit. Paired with a greater green credential, implementing solar may also lead to customer growth and loyalty.

Wearable payments

We should no longer be amazed by someone making a payment with their wrist watch. This is the future. Most banks support smartphone payment platforms from Google and Apple, while Fitbit and Garmin have implemented payment systems within their fitness trackers.

From a business perspective, you shouldn’t need to change anything if you’re accepting card payments and have a tap-and-go terminal, you are ready for this. The only adjustment you may need to make is the location of your payment terminal in-store. Can the customer reach it with ease or is it hidden behind the counter? Consider and adjust accordingly if you want to support future-ready customers.

Trevor Long

Trevor Long is a technology journalist with over 20 years’ experience in the media. Trevor hosts a weekly radio show on 2UE called Talking Tech and is often seen providing technology commentary across Channel 9’s, A Current Affair and the Today Show nationally. Trevor is the co-founder and publisher of EFTM, an online site covering all things motoring, lifestyle and technology and produces two of the most popular podcasts in Australia.

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