Freeformers’ predictions for 2018
2017 has come to a close and it’s been a huge year in tech and digital. From the surge in price of Bitcoin to fears around the fast growth of the gig economy, technology has led the news agenda. So what’s in store for 2018? Here some Freeformers give their predictions, headed by the thoughts of Freeformers founder Gi Fernando MBE. We’ll see who was right this time next year!
Gi Fernando MBE predicts:
• An anti-tech movement – currently happening in the US – will spread to the UK; heightened by public fear over governance of AI and automation as well as a loss of perception of people’s own agency in determining their futures; if they have grown up in the “wrong” postcode. It will particularly be focused on jobs and the social mobility of people who are not from elite academic backgrounds.
• The diversity narrative will change to an identity narrative, for example, how do you build workplaces to cater for differences not conformity? This will be especially important in the UK, calling out class as an inhibitor.
• Big employers will start to realise that their strength is actually what has been considered their weakness – and leveraging employee to customer relationships will allow them to be seen as having a premium against transactional business models.
• Trust will be further decimated between “the people” and governments and authority, as increasingly the world seems more ambiguous. This will affect established big companies and eat into returns on equity.
• The decentralised tech world will gather pace driven by ever-faster edge computing, AI and decentralised and unlimited storage potential. Centralised business models will try building hybrid models to try and retain control, citing security and safety; for example Blockchain vs Centralised Ledger. Hybrid will win as utopia is always unlikely.
• Regulators and governments driven by public opinion will have a field day as conversations about regulating tech will gather pace. Some bodies will be set up to govern, affecting private, VC-backed, cash-rich businesses on unicorn trajectories more than the established public tech companies with stronger governance requirements.
• Tech VCs are mostly looking for Unicorns but it’s harder to create Unicorns when the big four tech companies snuff them out before they start. VCs will start to become somewhat against the big four for “stifling innovation” or “being bad” but the real motivation may be more financial gain-orientated.
• Soft skills alongside Mindset, Behaviour and new ways of working will figure much higher than the “knowledge compliance” skills narrative that exists today and is purported by most digital education companies.
• People will feel less and less in control of their destiny as most social mobility and diversity efforts start to recognise that they merely reinforce class conformity.
• France will start to take up many column inches in the tech press, as their narrative, political will and investment starts to work on attracting entrepreneurs.
And some predictions from others in the Freeformers office…
Shaun, Head of Partner Engineering
I think 2018 will see the peak of Bitcoin’s upward trend, and in a bedroom or garage somewhere, the first stages of a truly usable cryptocurrency for all will begin to take shape. Also, despite recent legislation, large-scale data breaches will continue to be a reality; an understanding of cybersecurity is now more essential than ever. Finally, Paris will step ahead of London in the European startup space, but remote-only as decentralised organisations will be ever more prevalent.
Cian, Senior Learning Designer
While the regulators catch up on the legalities and possibilities of using Blockchain, companies will start to utilise it internally (after having tested it in 2017) for recording legal transactions such as smart contracting and ownership deeds. It won’t yet be used for recording customer transactions.
Sam, Head of Financial Services
2018 in financial services will see the highest-ever number of current account switches. This will be a record that will then swiftly be beaten in 2019.
Ian, Lead Developer, Learn
High profile Blockchain-based platforms like Ethereum will lose people money again in 2018, not just as a result of a collapsing bubble, but as a result of smart contracts being subverted for unexpected purposes as well as direct attack. The lack of regulatory process and uncertainties over legal jurisdictions for Blockchain-based products will make for surprising and devastating losses for some.
Stephen, Director of Product
No-one will be successfully prosecuted for GDPR non-compliance in 2018. Robots will be blamed for road accidents as self-driving transport technology becomes increasingly demonised by the press.