Once again, we invited thought leaders with diverse areas of expertise to peer into the 2018 Game-Changers Radio Crystal Ball. What did they see?

Cloud First accelerates in the small and medium enterprise market. Companies revamp talent frameworks for 21st century, real-time business. Digital transformation helps governments delight citizens with new digital services, like chatbots. The Internet of Things (IoT) shakes up business to the point of delivering Everything-as-a-Service. Cyberattacks continue. 5G networks come online, revving up Internet speeds to a rate possibly 75 times faster than current velocities.

2018 predictions overheard on SAP Radio: Cloud First for SMEs. New talent frameworks for real-time business. Governments delight citizens with digital services. IoT leads to Everything-as-a-Service. 5G networks bring new business opportunities.

These are some of the predictions heard on Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions, Part 4, Presented by SAP, the fourth installment of a five-part series, that aired live January 10, 2018. Host Bonnie D. Graham asked 15 leading experts, academics, and business influencers to share their predictions for what the coming year holds for industry, business, the world, and technology.  The predictions are the experts’ personal points of view and do not necessarily represent the views of SAP.

What These Thought Leaders Foresee

1. 2018 will take us into the world of interface simplification. For example, my smart phone will become a really smart phone that knows my calendar and the traffic conditions; based on those conditions, it will set up my daily schedule automatically. What’s required is finding how we interact with machines and how these machines interact with us. Advances in AI are creating a new definition for machine interaction. In 2018 we’ll start seeing unprecedented products. We’ll see a progression from individual artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT products to systems that will plan and will make our lives easier.

– Amit Rustagi, Big Data Technologist, Western Digital

2. In the area of IoT, I foresee a lot of things (8 IoT Predictions for 2018). The IoT cloud platform market is going to consolidate quickly. The IoT hype is going to finish and we’re going to move into possibly a “trough of disillusionment” that precedes mainstream adoption. IoT architecture will evolve from data ingestion and analytics to an intelligent event-driven solution for end users. Digital twins will evolve from concepts to blueprint and implementation for data sharing within and across companies.

– Tom Raftery, Global Vice President, Futurist, IoT Evangelist, SAP

3. I foresee three things and they are all related. 1.) Cloud first: There will be more cloud business, especially in small and medium enterprises, and more companies will bring apps into the cloud. 2.) IoT: Traditional business will change a lot, even to something like Everything-as-a-Service (EAAS). The pros include things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, but the negatives might be crime-as-a-service, the darknet, or even ransomware-as-a-service. 3.) Security: We’ve heard about the chip meltdown and we’ll see more events like this in 2018.

– Frank D. Geisler, CEO and CMO, ERPsourcing AG

4. Social selling will go beyond the basics. Sales reps are now asking how they can bring in stuff like AI and machine learning into the sales process to improve engagement and provide a better experience for the customer. There will also be a greater emphasis on how Marketing needs to transform to fill the needs of the Sales organization. There needs to be a complete and total alignment in the digital transformation between Sales and Marketing. That will hopefully happen in 2018.

– Kirsten Boileau, Head of Regional Engagement and Social Selling, SAP

5. In 2018, knowledge work productivity will increase through machine learning due to automation.

– Chandran Saravana, Senior Director, Advanced Analytics, SAP

6. We need to combine transactional and analytic systems into transalytic systems and stop thinking about these as two separate systems. 2018 is going to be the year we’ll see major corporations collapse these two systems together, so that you have simplified architecture and can move at the pace of business. Second, in the automotive market, the evolution continues towards autonomous assets. There will be a lot of movement in the vehicle-to-vehicle area and the vehicle infrastructure will become more pervasive. The driving factor will be a price drop for lidar, the technology the vehicles use for situational awareness.

– Bill Powell, Director of Enterprise Architecture, Automotive Resources International (ARI)

7. It will be a year of digital transformation, but it will be pushed by human needs, consumerism, and emerging tech. 2018 is going to be the year when more organizations use empathy to start digital transformations. They need to know what their clients’ needs are and really know their customers. This touches on emerging technologies like AI, chatbots, and IoT. Think of devices like Alexa and digital assistants; according to IDC, we’ll have about 4,800 of these interactions every day, or about one every 18 seconds. How does this affect government? How do you delight citizens? In the UK, for example, they’re using Alexa to report crime. In Mississippi, they’re using a chatbot called Ask Missi as a system to get information.

– Michele Hovet, Client and Partner Innovation Director, KSM Consulting

8. We’ll see more vertical and geographic specialization into micro-verticals. For example, providing not just healthcare solutions for South Africa, but also solutions for clients in neighboring Botswana and Nambia. Second, we’ll see increasing specialization in our partner firms, for example, specifically doing work for omnichannel ecommerce for consumer products companies. Third, we’ll see increased interoperability of capability – meaning partners that are able to combine solutions, like artificial intelligence around managing complex supply chains in the apparel footwear industry. Lastly, companies that can link their core mission to doing well in the local community and the world will win.

– Roger Quinlan, Senior Vice President of SAP Global Partner Managed Cloud and Cloud BPO

9. There will be an increase in the number of organizations that recreate their talent frameworks to support the 21st century world of work. The game-changing organizations of 2018 will be the ones brave enough to move away from their traditional performance frameworks. The winners in 2018 will be those who focus on underpinning their people frameworks more concretely in impact and contribution, which as a consequence will enable them to map and deploy people in a real-time manner.

– Nathan Ott, Co-founder and CEO, The GC Index

10. We’re going to see more incentives for people to have certain behaviors. You need to be able to target what behaviors or actions you want, and then be able to incentivize, whether it involves salespeople, consumers, or buyers. There will be more incentives, but with AI and other technologies, you will be able to know exactly what you should be incenting on and what results you want to get.

– Cara DeGraff, Vice President of Product Management, Vistex, Inc.

11. Data analytics will mature to continue transforming and improving the way we communicate with customers. To make this happen, in 2018 companies will need to begin thinking about transformation as evolutionary. Instead of initiatives and projects that have a one-and-done basis, we’re going to think about them on an evolutionary basis. In 2018, we’re going to get better at predicting customer behaviors. We’re going to get better at personalizing every experience to give customers what they want most: speedy, painless, real-time interaction 24/7.

– Vanessa Edmonds, Leader of Research, Innovate, Materialize (RIM) Solutions at TMG

12. In 2018 customers will leverage technologies in new ways to advance their state of maturity. There’s been a lot of focus on buying new technologies, like in-memory data platforms, AI, and predictive analytics. I foresee the application of those solutions in such a way that technology isn’t really a question anymore. I foresee a lot of innovation, particularly in enterprise performance management, where it was difficult in the past to automate manual tasks. In 2018, they’re going to focus on automating the analysis of the data that is now at your fingertips.

– David Den Boer, Founder, Column5 Consulting

13. We’re going to see companies reassess their strategic technical plan – possibly even stopping some of the roadmaps and re-evaluating options for the cloud, as well as moving forward with ERP transformations and improving total cost of operations by streamlining business processes and technical architecture. There will be quite a bit around end-to-end transformation and being more innovative and proactive in business processes.

– Windie Wilson, Solution Advisor, Supply Chain Management, SAP

14. At a personal level, we’re getting closer to the world of the movie “Her” with digital assistants and cognitive computing – but going mobile. For example, we’re going to see headphones that you really can’t see but that will have digital assistants built in and will last all day. Things are going to conform to you – for example, your rental car will adjust to you. In business, we’re going to see identity and trust move to the forefront. With the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the number of data breaches that are being reported, people will care more about trust and reputation. For a company to be successful, they’re going to have to show how they react and how they maintain your privacy to encourage you to trust and buy from them. At the same time, we’re going to see that the Internet of Everything, machine learning, and AI will become how businesses allow their employees to focus on their work versus keeping the lights on.

– Brian Katz, Enterprise Architect, Oath Technology

15. For 2018 in the automotive world, we’ll see more Connected Autonomous Shared and Electrified (CASE) strategy. 5G networks will finally come online, affecting vehicles, drones, robots, and sensors. The providers of the structures, hardware, and networks predict Internet speeds that are 75 times faster than currently available. For a lot of manufacturers, that means better productivity and an increase in the data monetization. The second prediction relates to autonomous vehicles, where we’re getting closer to level 4 and 5 autonomy in the automotive space. For regular drivers, what’s more important is the move to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which we will see more of in higher-end vehicles.

– David Parrish, SAP Senior Global Marketing Director for the Industrial Machinery and Components Industry

You can hear the full show at
SAP Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions, Part 4

SAP Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions Special Upcoming Shows

For dozens of other insightful predictions that can impact you and your business in 2018 and beyond, listen to all five episodes of SAP’s Game-Changers Radio 2018 Predictions Special.

In case you missed previous episodes, you can listen to recordings of Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the series.

Part 5 will air live on Wednesday, January 17, at 11:00 a.m. ET/ 8:00 a.m. PT at http://spr.ly/SAPRadio. You can listen to the shows live here.

Experts’ predictions have been edited and condensed for this space.
Top image via Shutterstock