It’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a great wave of disruption. As advances in technology are rapidly shaping the future, new iterations of our most-used devices are being produced at lightning speed. In 2017, we saw trends continue to emerge in several key areas, including artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, IIoT and edge computing and last, but certainly not least, blockchain technology.

In 2018, Industry 4.0 will no longer just be a topic of discussion, it will become a reality taking the form of a powerful convergence of technologies the likes of which has not been seen since the beginning of the 20th Century. With this in mind, we’ve captured some of these key trends we’ve written about in 2017–and what to watch for in 2018.

Artificial Intelligence 
02-Trends-to-Watch-in-2018-AI

2017 has brought us another year of rapid advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, opening up a myriad of potential use cases. In “The Next Evolution of Geppetto: Disrupting Journalism,” Lead Data Scientist, Farshad Kheiri, discusses one such use case in the form of Geppetto, a first-of-its-kind, tamper-proof platform which leverages blockchain technology and machine learning to publish news with a numerical ‘truth’ score.

With these advances, the conversation around the role of such technologies has deepened beyond just the use cases to AI’s implications within areas like design, for example. In “Trust is the New Clarity,” Vice President of Strategic Design, Mario Gamper, explores the impact the advent of AI assistants will have on the design teams that create digital user experience and interfaces–and why AI assistants might force Experience Design into a rhetorical turn.

While proponents of AI believe the benefits outweigh the cost, its rapid proliferation has prompted concerns. As every major player is currently in a race to build the best AI, it’s not just about developing the technology—it’s about developing the ethics around it. In “Why Artificial Ethics Can’t Wait Until the Singularity,” Gamper poses the question: What will happen to us once artificial intelligence becomes smarter than humans?

Looking ahead to 2018, we believe these questions will only continue as AI helps businesses drive strategic vertical growth into new areas.

IoT, IIoT & Edge Computing 
03-Trends-to-Watch-in-2018-IOT

In 2017, we saw IoT transition from what was, in many ways, a nascent technology, into the mainstream with an ever-expanding array of applications. In “DV Talks: IoT – 3 Predictions for 2018,” Global Head of IoT, Hod Fleishman, discusses the IoT landscape heading into 2018 through three predictions:

  1. IoT will continue to suffer from schizophrenia
  2. IoT will die
  3. IoT will become child’s play

One of the most exciting applications of IoT in 2017 has been in the industrial space, where production interruptions and regular downtimes are a harsh reality. In “Industry 4.0: Creating a Digital Product Shadow,” Director of Engineering, Dr. Tilman Buchner, discusses Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT (IIoT) and the business impacts of cloud and edge computing (i.e. mining, automotive, paper machine manufacturers).

Providing a glimpse into the future of automation, Buchner explains how DV recently joined together with Amazon Web Services, WZL RWTH Aachen and KUKA, to showcase the ways in which edge computing can enable self-optimizing robot handling processing in the automotive glazing industry at the annual AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.

There’s no doubt that cloud and edge computing are the enabler technologies to put Industry 4.0 into reality today, rather than tomorrow. In 2018 and beyond, the future of automation will be a hybrid system leveraging cloud services for learning and optimization, correlating field data with external information to generate new insights.

Blockchain Technology 04-Trends-to-Watch-in-2018-BLOCKCHAIN

No other technology has received more buzz in 2017 than the blockchain. With a record breaking number of ICO’s and a seemingly endless list of potential applications, it remains to be seen exactly which of these use cases will actually come to fruition in 2018.

Discussing one such use case that is already being put to the test, Founder and CEO, Jeff Shumacher, and Partner and Head of the Energy Practice Area, Joe Takai, took a microscope to the global energy transition and how blockchain technology can be used to facilitate the growing trend of microgrids in “Navigating the Global Energy Transition.”

Moving beyond discussing the potential applications to actually creating them, BCG Digital Ventures and DVolution hosted over 70 blockchain engineers from around the world this August for their inaugural dAppathon. See the action unfold and the winners announced in this mini-documentary: “dAppathon, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blockchain.”

Sign up for updates at dappathon.com to be notified when applications open for our next hackathon in April 2018.

Continuing the ever-evolving conversation, Jeff Schumacher appeared live in New York on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” this October to discuss how the blockchain is one of our biggest areas for Investments, and how, unlike 90% of the companies out there focused on the currency side, we are focused on blockchain 3.0 around platforms, identify management and asset tracking. Watch the full interview below:

Each of these technologies–AI, IoT and the blockchain–would be huge on their own, but the point at which they converge will magnify their effects. Eventually, they will become integrated into the fibers of everything we do–in 2018 and beyond.

If you’d like to read more from DV, follow us on Twitter @BCGDV and visit our website.