This post originally appeared on forbes.com
It’s that time of year when the masses get inundated with a swath of predictions from so-called industry experts, myself included. None of us have crystal balls or flux-capacitated DeLoreans, but we do our best. That said, sometimes predictions gravitate closer to the world the author wants rather than the one they expect to be true. I think we can all agree that you’re better served if we put the clothes back on the emperor and call it like it is.
For myself, I’ll be asking some fair-minded colleagues to grade me on these predictions at the end of the year and promise to publish the results. In the meantime, here’s what I think 2018 has in store for us all:
1. Reality Catches Up With Digital Transformation
Vendors will realize that they need to stop talking in generalities about how they fuel digital transformation and instead provide clear instruction and strategies for making real transformation happen, explaining how the result delivers on business goals in practical terms. Consequently, many vendors will realize that they’re not actually qualified to do it.
This will happen because many of the businesses that started “transforming” in recent years to compete with more nimble startups will realize that a couple of years have passed and they’re still waiting to emerge victorious on the market stage. Those companies will start to question whether they’re ever going to get to the land that was promised to them.
On the other side of the equation, businesses that have been on the fence about adopting new technologies will realize that they need to take action quickly — because early movers who did manage to get out on the right track are starting to show signs of success. Those who choose to stay on the fence will find themselves even further behind the market, and the gap for some will border on unrecoverable.
2. IoT Starts Adding Real Value And The Proponents Rejoice
The integration of peripheral devices and “things” will be incorporated into larger enterprise technology and architecture initiatives. Consequently, businesses will begin to understand that IoT is a technical component of larger enterprise technology solutions — not a true lane or strategy in and of itself.
This will clear up a lot of the confusion that hampered early-stage advancement. The increasing maturity of cloud-based IoT services from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsft Azure will also help to accelerate the pace of adoption.
3. ESBs Get Picked Last In Gym Class As They Struggle To Adapt To New Enterprise Architecture Patterns
For years, enterprise service buses (ESBs) — the middleware platforms of the world — were the cornerstone of any integration strategy. While there have been a lot of benefits realized with this approach over the years, there have also been myriad issues. From organizational and political challenges to vendors needing to retrofit their products to work appropriately with cloud and SaaS strategies, ESBs are like a franchise athlete in their late 30s: They can still get the job done in certain situations, but you shouldn’t build your team around them.
In 2018, we’ll continue to see a substantial shift away from ESBs toward enterprise architecture patterns that leverage microservices, creating lean, reusable and purpose-built APIs.
4. Blockchain Continues Not To Solve Every Problem
The blockchain hype wagon will continue to careen forward as bitcoin values surge and questions about its efficacy make headlines. Consequently, that hype will continue to drive a belief that blockchain is the hammer for every nail, screw, railroad stake or button-shaped problem.
To be clear, an immutable distributed ledger is a fantastic utility to solve certain problems, especially in industries that rely on unimpeachable audit trails of activity like finance and energy. However, the number of times I’ve been asked to comment on how blockchain will revolutionize some industry or process that doesn’t need it is staggering.
To paraphrase the immortal words of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, “You were so preoccupied with whether you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should.”
5. Cloud Services Continue To Displace And Frustrate Niche Vendors, And We Give Them Little Reason To Stop
The rate at which Amazon, Microsoft and Google release useful, purposeful services is nothing short of amazing. Cloud service adoption will continue to happen across all industries — and the question of whether or not to leverage the add-on services they provide will be a recurring theme for enterprise architects.
Smart vendors will find an opportunity to develop complementary new technology, while stubborn ones will get aggravated as they lose market share.
6. Machine Learning Goes Mainstream, And AI Manages To Not Kill Us En Masse For One More Year
Over the past couple years, we’ve watched big data approaches evolve into standard enterprise data architecture conventions. The wide swaths of fertile territory created were begging to be invaded by bloodthirsty mobs of data scientists and machine learning practitioners.
With an increasing number of high-quality, open-source tools and libraries — and useful cloud services from Amazon, Microsoft and Google — machine learning will increasingly be employed to solve practical enterprise problems.
Lastly, generalized artificial intelligence will again fall short in its quest to produce a sentient being, so those recurring nightmares of being impaled by a liquid metal T-1000 won’t come true for at least a few more years.
Want to learn more about how these technologies can impact your business and drive growth in 2018? Setup a strategy session with our team.
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