At the beginning of 2018, what is the biggest challenge facing your industry/field of expertise? Do you think 2018 will bring us closer to solving this problem?

The trend in the consumer marketplace has been for traditional and non-traditional service providers alike to innovate with technology, to potentially disrupt traditional markets. They seek to provide value by adding functionality and convenience to the user experience often with, however, mixed consumer interest. Take virtual reality for example. It has been widely promoted for the promise of its immersive gaming experience, yet not adopted by consumers on a mass scale.

What will entice people to spend more on what is billed as innovative and smart technology? I’ll pay a little for a device that responds to my simple questions or fills out a grocery list, but not a lot when I perceive that to be of limited value. If it is necessary to register, download, install, update and then perhaps have to troubleshoot or redo these steps, I’ll also probably wait for a later technology unless I’m getting real and immediate value from the technology. This is true for consumers in general, I believe.

What significant events will happen in your industry/field of expertise?

We keep seeing that artificial intelligence is on the cusp of a real breakthrough, leading to a lot of concern about the ‘thinking machines”. The thing is, we still have to make sense of the data; we have to make it actionable. It’s possible to do something substantive, but it’s going to take a considerable budget to curate and analyze the data.

If it were really ready for prime time, it would be moving faster and in more areas, but it’s not. It’s wise to know what to do about these things, but maybe it is still a bit hyped.

What products or companies do you think will be successful? Why?

Cities and large businesses will continue to invest in technologies such as sensors to monitor air quality, humidity and carbon dioxide. They will begin to see a return on their smart city technology investments. As the energy ratio shifts from traditional power producers to clean energy, their savings will increase.

Also, security concerns, whether terrorism, street crime or even accidents, will drive new services and technologies. The trend will be to invest wisely in smarter systems and technologies that help people feel more secure.