Technology boomed in 2018 both on the Dow Jones and in its impact on American businesses and consumers. So far, 2019 looks like it will continue that same fast-paced growth in the tech sector. While some long-time technology companies such as Apple and Facebook are showing a bit of wear and tear due to concerns over data privacy and management, overall the sector is the picture of health.
Here's what we see as the top tech trends for 2019.
Blockchain will make a comeback
Seriously. Bitcoin may have peaked and dropped back to its former state in a breathtaking rise and fall, but the value of Bitcoin never lay in the currency. It was always in the blockchain. And while cryptocurrencies took a big hit, blockchain itself proved its value. Today, businesses know they can use the blockchain to collect digital IDs, process payments, trace food, track weapons, safeguard votes, and manage the Internet of Things. Expect to see the blockchain play a larger role in cyberdefense and B2B security. Cybersecurity and banking, in particular, will benefit from blockchain's comeback while standardization issues and unclear regulations will put a damper on the technology in other fields.
The Internet of Things (IOT) will explode with growth
The IOT refers to connected devices that can communicate with one another minus any human interference, and it is poised to change the world just as profoundly as the introduction of the internet did in the 1990s. To give IOT some context, think of your smart refrigerator that can order you a fresh gallon of milk or your car that can inform your insurance company just how much you really drive. That's just the consumer side. On the B2B front, businesses in fields like manufacturing are banking on big savings and better service thanks to connected devices. Growth is expected to happen so quickly that experts project that the U.S. will hold 180 million industrial IOT devices by 2020, and China will house nearly that many.
Augmented reality will move into business and science sectors
Kids have used augmented reality to add cute bunny ears to their photos on Snapchat for years, but increasingly, scientists and other professionals are finding ways to use it to advance their fields of work. Consumer-facing retailers can use image enhancement functionality to show what their product would look like in use in order to help potential buyers make a purchase decision. In addition, scientists are using the technology to highlight cancerous tissues in color while pathologists examine them under a microscope. Expect to see augmented reality get taken a lot more seriously.
Cybersecurity demand will continue to outstrip supply
The already-vast cybersecurity skills shortage won't shrink. If anything, it will grow even more pronounced. As governments, military units, multinational corporations, and even small enterprises take digital security more seriously, the need for qualified cyber defense professionals will expand. And no one is really filling that gap. The higher education model moves too slowly, and the for-profit certificates are too niche-specific to equip professionals with the broad knowledge and management skills needed for a robust cyber defense department. Students pondering their future careers should definitely consider jumping on this one.
Alignment between humans and AI will grow clearer
Fear of the robots taking jobs won't go away, but the ability to see where AI will thrive and where human work will still be necessary will almost certainly grow clearer. Computer programming will advance in fields such as medicine where the ethical lines are sharper, and the power struggle between humans and AI will continue in other areas like data collection and sale. Nevertheless, some resolutions will begin to take shape, and we will start to see where humans and AI can work in a complementary way.
To date, 2019 promises to be a banner year for tech as new abilities and questions arise and as access to digital technology democratizes. For the average computer user, life will continue to change and upgrade particularly as blockchain and IOT assume greater importance on a global stage.