2018 will be the year where the cloud computing paradigm will continue to affect most businesses and the cloud will be augmented by AI and IoT. Focus on data security and protection will be sharpened by the risk of major fines for data leaks. The year will also bring a lot of exciting and fun technologies.
Cloud, SaaS, Big Data and Machine Learning
The cloud computing paradigm continues to be attractive to businesses. According to Forrester, the global public cloud market will grow 22% in 2018. Amazon (AWS), Google (GCP) and Microsoft (Azure) will continue to be the dominant players with 76% of all cloud platform revenue in 2018 .
Software-as-a-Service is part of the Cloud Computing paradigm and the usage of SaaS offerings such as CRM systems from Salesforce or Microsofts Dynamics is normal in many businesses. In 2018 we will see vendors of CRM systems ride the AI-hype with offerings of intelligent chatbots and Machine Learning based on Big Data to extract new knowledge about customers.
I have recently interviewed some very experienced CRM experts and they all pointed out that the more intelligent solutions sound interesting, but the reality is that many businesses do not have the necessary foundation for these solutions. As one of them said:
“Everyone talks about how wonderful Big Data is, but many businesses do not know how to use their existing data, so why do they want more?”
But 2018 will mean more data. Much more. About individuals, machines, and businesses. So it is important to have the processes, people, and infrastructure in place to handle them securely.
Cybersecurity and Leaks
That was not the case in 2017. Too many businesses handling sensitive data did not have the necessary security practices such as encryption of sensitive data in place. The unprotected AWS S3 bucket containing 1.1 terabytes of sensitive personal details for 198 million Americans  was just one of many stories of unprotected sensitive data in 2017..
Security awareness is of course not only about not being careless about sensitive data but also about active defence against malware such as Wannacry ransomware that hit 47 NHS England Trusts in 2017 plus numerous companies around the world.
We will, unfortunately, see more of these kinds of data breaches, but hopefully, most IT-people now realise that good security practices are a necessity.
Regulation with a stick!
If your workplace does not have adequate security procedures, 2018 can be quite a wake-up call. In May, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force. If sensitive personal data of EU citizens are leaked due to negligence and/or missing security, EU can fine the company with up to 20 million Euros or 4 percent of annual turnover.
The GDPR is applicable for all companies processing and storing data about EU citizens, so no matter how Brexit plays out, GDPR is something British companies have to take seriously. Are you prepared?
Internet of Things: Home invasion
This Christmas was the start of the invasion of smart devices in non-techies’ homes. According to Amazon, the sales of Amazon Echo Dot went through the roof this Christmas . Google’s Home Mini was also priced very low, so both companies apparently lost a few quid per unit with the objective of luring consumers into their ecosystem .
Personally, I am a bit ambivalent towards this development.
The bug in Google’s Home Mini was, probably, just a bug which meant that the little device recorded everything and send it back to the Google mothership . But, bug or not, we are in a Brave New World-style (happy and voluntarily) implementing the infrastructure for a 1984-future. At the same time, there are a lot of IoT-devices that are insecure.
On the other hand; it is quite exciting with a voice-interface to supplement touch- and keyboard-interface to control various electrical and computing devices. Now, if you are a developer it would be a good idea to look into how programming of these new personal assistants works   – and understand any eventual related security issues.
And keep an eye on Microsoft and their plans for Home Hub and Cortana  as well as Apple’s HomePod which wasn’t ready for this Christmas . Who knows; it could be something you could use for business or just for fun?
Curo Talent has also published ‘7 UK recruitment trends for 2018; IT employers read on…‘ and ‘3 freelance tips for 2018… all winners‘.
 Forrester’s 10 Cloud Computing Predictions For 2018
 The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak
 31 of the most infamous data breaches
 Amazon sold more Echo Dots than any other item over the holidays
 Amazon, Google cut speaker prices in market share contest
 Google is permanently nerfing all Home Minis because mine spied on everything I said 24/7
 Build Skills with the Alexa Skills Kit
 Engage users through the Google Assistant
 Microsoft’s Home Hub ambitions aim to crush Google Home and Amazon Echo
 Apple has lost the smart speaker war before it even began