What to expect in 2018?

Konstantin Sheiko
March 6, 2018

2018 has just only started, and it is worth to make several tentative predictions as to how the year is going to develop in terms of business, finances, technology and other crucial aspects of human development. According to experts, speaking of 2018, there are several common themes emerging as the rapidly growing and transformational nature of technology continues to dominate the discourse.     

We can expect it to be paralleled by an increasingly passionate debate about the extent and degree of government and regulatory influence aimed at mitigating the growing power of technology. This will gain momentum as leading tech companies race toward a trillion dollar valuation, and scrutiny of and protection against misinformation and hacking increases.    

Further in the technology space, we can also expect to see the emergence of themes that were regarded as the preserve of science fiction, such as the testing of flying cars and the emergence of quantum supremacy. Less tech-focused themes include the growing adoption of behavioural science by enterprises, with a focus on optimising both employee productivity and consumer purchase patterns.   

Attainment of this benchmark will highlight a new level of corporate power and influence, but will also result in closer monitoring by competitors, regulators and consumers. These companies might become trillion dollar monsters, but key for them will be earning and retaining public trust the world over. Rising concerns regarding technology companies’ increasing power is driving pushback from government organisations, and this trend will gain momentum in 2018. 

Greater government and regulatory oversight is likely to protect consumers and curb corporate overreach, but may also stunt innovation. Underscoring this trend will be the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in mid-2018, as well as adjusted net neutrality rules in the US.   

Get ready to throw out the conventional road safety rule book. You might not have to check skywards just yet when you cross the road, but flying cars are getting ready to ruffle some feathers. Numerous competitors laid the groundwork in 2017, testing their flying vehicle models, with more expected in 2018. The biggest leap forward in this space, and in the public’s popular imagination, will be the much anticipated launch of a flying taxi service in Dubai this summer - Back to the Future was spot on!   

Fears over tech companies eavesdropping on consumer conversations have been increased with the rising adoption of Smart Home devices and AI Personal Assistants. This will be a hot topic as capabilities and past incidents signal the high likelihood of conversations being illegally tapped. 

Combating the fake news will become the priority for media domains. Governments, industry participants and citizen-focused initiatives are already coming together to identify, reduce and prevent misinformation strategies and fake news in 2018. In light of recent incidents, the focus will be on quelling interference in political processes and social polarisation efforts. Developments may lead to the segmentation of social media based on verified identities, pseudonyms, and anonymous environments.   

2018 will be the year when behavioural science takes hold in the enterprise, with savvy companies embracing these economic and social science principles to increase worker productivity and nudge consumers towards desirable outcomes. Media attention on early adopters and Nobel Prize recognition of the discipline’s founder will prompt growing adoption in 2018.  

Hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes and floods battered the world with unprecedented frequency and ferocity in 2017. As the social and economic toll mounts, consortiums of businesses, municipalities and insurance companies will work closely together in 2018 to take more aggressive steps and employ innovative strategies to minimise the impact of these natural disasters.  

In 2017, we saw some interesting developments at the world’s most notable platforms, Uber and AirBnB, which indicated a move beyond platform-only business models and into acquisition and partnership with asset providers. This underlined a need to differentiate and overcome some of the challenges that a platform-only model presents, with the objective of increasing the value of both digital and physical assets. So far, 2018 promises to be a very interesting, yet challenging year for the global community.