I find myself sitting here in a café in Melbourne, drinking a flat white while working on my iPad as I dig into 2018 plans. Over the past 4 months, I’ve had a number of conversations asking me what are the biggest technologies that will impact business in 2018. Here is my take on 5 key technologies that could shake up businesses next year.
APIs – application programming interfaces
Wait, I thought you said 2018 Keran, not 2008! Okay yes, APIs are old news – or are they? If they are old news then where are the Bank APIs? Where are the local council APIs (yes I know there are some around)? What about news & media? Sure there is a heap of great APIs around, but there remains a lot of work to be done to lift Australia and New Zealand into a true API economies.
So if your business has data (little secret, you all do!) and you don’t have an API Strategy – then tip number 1 from me is to invest in getting one. APIs are known to open up doors to innovation, new markets and business efficiencies, so get planning.
No it’s not a buzz word, and no I’m not talking crypto-currencies (although those to have potential to impact in 2018), I’m talking the underlying technology of the Blockchain. Anytime you introduce technology that has the ability to impact the direct efficiency of business (or an economy) you see a fundamental shift. Think back 20 years to the introduction of the internet – “No one needs the internet to do business” was the common cry of the day. Today you can’t do business without the internet. My gut says the same is with the Blockchain. Businesses of tomorrow will come to rely on the transparency, trust and security baked into the chain.
The first areas I think we’ll see this impact is in the B2B space, as logistics and supply chain companies move to the blockchain. This will then bring a wave of data interchange on the blockchain through invoice and purchase order sharing. Next, I believe we’ll see mass data sharing (we’re already seeing companies explore HR data on the chain), and ultimately the full end to end business process. Sadly I think banking and financial industries will be the last to truly embrace blockchain – yet they stand to be the ones who could gain the most (or be disrupted fastest?).
That means tip number 2 is, if you are not asking “How can the blockchain impact our business in 2018?” you should. Followed closely by “Does the blockchain enable a disruptor to move faster than us?”
Australia has been working towards this goal for a while, with the top banks joining to build out “The New Payments Platform” and PayID. 2018 is the year of delivery for real-time payments in Australia. One of the first consumer-focused solutions built on this will be Osko by BPay. These technologies together will finally bring an end to the 24-48hr wait for money to be sent from one person to another, one bank to another. Having just dealt with transferring some money between banks and countries I for one can not wait for this. Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business, waiting for money to transfer/clear between businesses is often painful and stressful.
Tip number 3, are you ready for real-time payments? Most businesses won't need to do anything, it’ll just be part of their banking experience. But if you are in the payment space, are you doing everything in your power to delight customers and fully embrace real-time payments?
AR & VR
People tell me that the blockchain is a technology solution waiting for a problem. I hear the same thing about Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Right now (and I know I’ll cop flak for this) both are sitting clearly in the “novelty” camp with the most common use case being simply for entertainment. In 2018 AR and AR will anchor themselves as gimmicks that are used and abused by marketing teams around the globe – especially now that all new modern phones can augment reality by simply using the camera. So my AR & VR tip here could easily be, if you are looking for a cutting-edge marketing push for 2018, try AR & VR.
However, both AR & VR are finding their feet in solid practical business applications too. Take a look at DAQRI a company that specialises in VR for industry. Hard hats and visors that overlay the real world with amazing information and insight. I can see this having a huge impact in the industrial side of Australia. Then you start to explore what drones and AR can do in farming and agriculture and the upside in efficiency and access for these is huge.
So my tip number 4 is “Are you asking how AR or VR could improve the access to information (and understanding/application of that information) for your teams?”
5G – the death of NBN?
Look I’ll say it, I’m not a fan of the NBN. I moved from Telstra cable to HFC NBN this year (routed through Optus) and my experience has been more volatile than bitcoin prices. I find myself using 4G more and more and where possible 4Gx – it’s just so fast! The promise of 5G in 2018 could mean a massive swing in the viability of the true mobile business. This, of course, comes with a huge caveat – the biggest impact on speeds on any cellular network is congestion – so if/when Telstra et.al bring 5G to Australia, they have to allow for hundreds of simultaneous cell connections to any given cell point. At this point, Australia will have the potential to leap into the modern internet age and let’s just watch what impact that has on the amazing business and startup communities here in Australia.
And the final tip, number 5, is don’t settle for crappy internet in 2018 – the more voices asking the telco's and NBN for solid, fast and reliable internet means it’s more likely to arrive. (Okay, I might be dreaming - I can but hope right?)
I know there are loads of new technologies coming to Australia and New Zealand in 2018, I’ve only touched on 5. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or do you have a different view?
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