This blog is misnamed. Instead of '7 Technology Predictions for 2018,' it should really be “what are the technology trends between now and the end of the 2nd decade of the 20th century.
As I view the last third of the decade, I see that there are political drivers outside that will impact our IT focus.
1. Political and Technology Gap will Widen
More than ever, the gap between political power and knowledge of the current state of IT widens. The average age of a House member is 57 and a Senator is 62. This demographic embraces technology at a marginal rate compared to groups only 10 years younger. They will not see the importance of standards for cybersecurity, Internet of Things, and crypto currency until others have already made decisions. To complicate matters, those providing them what they deem to be knowledge of the issues (Warren Buffet, et al) have no conviction that they need to be overly concerned with these matters. This has nothing to do with the political party in control. It has to do with the disconnect in values placed on technology. Heck, I got an email from a Congressional assistant that I have repeatedly worked with earlier this week, and it was obviously a phishing attack that used information from their account to target me. If they aren’t safe, they won’t get overly concerned whether or not we are safe. I was hoping the Hillary Clinton email fiasco would draw a positive light to the issues associated with cybersecurity, but they didn’t. Shame on me for thinking otherwise.
2. Increase in IoT Devices
Human propensity to take the easy way will lead to the creation of more IoT devices, controlled by mobile devices that aren’t secure. On my cell phone (Samsung Galaxy), I have apps that control light switches, fans, a thermostat, and my garage door opener. These apps aren’t getting updated when my operating system is, and I can only imagine that exploits are already out there/under way to make it possible for people to get into my house. As part of this technology prediction, privacy concerns may be the only item that drives government to really get serious about creating standards and regulating communications between devices created with GoFundMe capital and my safety.
3. Shift in Passwords
Passwords, as we know them, will go away. An ever-growing industry exists to manage the overt password management issues that we all face. Tools that allow you to get back to a single password to get into everything are nearly as commonplace as the devices that they operate on. In essence, we are migrating back to a world of negligible security, once you get through the front door. As facial recognition/fingerprinting technology becomes commonplace, we will see an end of Pass@words as part of the use of technology.
4. Shift in Medicinal use of IoT
Medicinal use of IoT will be the catalyst behind the medical industry’s drive to address HiPPA concerns and the need to keep down costs. Health insurance costs will not decrease without the ability of providers to offer more services via automation than they currently do with office visits and procedures. IoT is the Obi-wan Kenobi of that movement. Expect some take-your-breath-away applications of IoT in the medical devices that we use.
5. Networking Migration will Continue
Networking will continue on its migration away from the wired world to the wireless world. I anticipate that 5G will be immediately adopted, and many individuals will go to work and bypass the company’s network altogether as the access cloud based apps that they use to do their jobs. Why use a 1 GB network that is being shared when you can have your own 1.2GB network that doesn’t have any restrictions? It will demand that companies offer services to the users that are better than 5G or give up on offering anything at all. Bring your own lunch will be as common as bring your own cloud connection. Bank on this one happening beneath the sheets, when none of the executive management are watching.
6. Cyber Jobs will Increase
Jobs in cyber will grow at record-setting rates, and attract far more than the stereotypical tecno-geek types portrayed in movies and on TV. Cyber and counter cyber represents a way to add another venue for social equality that folks on the edge of society living 20 years ago couldn’t dream of.
7. Technology Services will Shift
Technology services are on a path not much different than automobile maintenance. Early on, everyone learned how to change their own oil, brake pads and alternator. Now, with computers knowing more about what is going on under the hood than even the designers, it makes nearly no sense to learn how to diagnose issues and fix a car. This is coming from a former motorcycle mechanic. People will have technology services companies like mine take care of everything possible, so they can focus on business. No more “who is going to change the oil on the network” conversations. Folks like us will do it, every time.
A change in telecom is coming of the sort we have never seen, related to 5G coverage.
Let’s do the history game, first. “Home Phone” used to mean Land Lines attached to a predictable device that could be used to send and receive phone calls, even if the power was out. The use of the word “Land” implying that they ran under, on, and over land to get to your home. That technology was a staple of telecommunications for nearly 100 years.
At a recent staff meeting, 0% of TNT’s employees admitting having a Land Line at their house. Everyone has either VoIP service running on the Internet connection or they use their smartphone to act as their Land Line.
One staffer repeated the word back to me, using a condescending tone that bordered on arrogance.
“Land Lines? Who uses Land Lines?”
I no longer will capitalize land lines. There. I have formally divorced from land lines.
I predict that we darn well might see 5G coverage do to cable and DSL that VoIP and cell phones did to the land line.
Verizon and Samsung have announced that they have finished (not started) deployment of 5G coverage in five US cities in preparation to begin allowing customers to use 5G-based devices (more than just your phone), beginning in April. The 5G trials involve using a new portion of the spectrum 28 GHZ and using a fancy new technology called “advanced beam forming antenna” to make the delivery pass over 1G of throughput, through the air.
Places in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington DC, and Michigan will get to try this out in April and tell the rest of us how it works.
If I can get 1.2 GB (truth be told, I would LOVE to get 100 MB, so a 9% delivered-as-promised outcome would be Godsend), then terrestrial technology becomes my failover and wireless becomes my primary Internet connection.
The future conversation will go something like this…
“What? You have cable (FTTH, DSL, etc)? Why aren’t you using 5G? How do you do two-way Ultra High Def pictures and video sharing? That must be so painful running at a mere 250MB/sec. Dude, I need to introduce you to my people!”
Today, TNT sells customers network appliances that come with all you can eat 4G failover at a fixed monthly fee, as business is impaired when the Internet is down. If 5G gets built into the US telecom space and delivers as promised, then Ethernet, MPLS, DSL and Cable will be the failover connection, real fast!
Imagine that world….coming into a city near you.
Over the last year, TNT has seen a shift in technology spending comparable to nothing that we have experienced. The shift towards putting both data and computing power in the cloud is unprecedented. Previously, the only “killer apps” that existed in the cloud for small and mid-sized businesses were online banking and perhaps payroll. Now, directory services, databases, email and office applications, and even file services are online-only services for many of our customers.
TNT's customers have been part of this technology shift. At the start of 2017, only a few TNT customers had mission critical data and applications running on servers that they could never touch or see. Now, over a quarter of all active TNT customers are using TNT to both migrate and use cloud services for their day-to-day functions.
- A manufacturing company is migrating its primary manufacturing application to the cloud. Considering they already have email and business continuity services in the cloud, they are about as “all in” as a company can be.
- A local government put all of their messaging and message archives in the cloud.
- A property management company moved to the cloud.
- A car dealership went “all cloud.”
It seems like all sectors that can use the cloud for day to day operations ARE using the cloud.
Our sales team is seeing the shift as well, as they are helping educate our current and new customers on the advantages of moving to the cloud. We think this trend will continue into 2018.
There is some attrition. Some of TNT’s main vendors (Cisco and Microsoft) are publishing decreasing financials as the world cares less about “owning” the best IT and migrates towards “renting time” on the best IT services on the market. Cloud only ideas are really taking off; not just Instagram and Salesforce. Webroot cloud-only security products are gaining fast traction and monthly networking services that include no upfront equipment charges or installation fees are ideas that business owners have been looking forward to.
The technology shift has affected TNT internally as well. Our engineers earned lots of cloud certifications in 2017 from Datto, Axcient and Microsoft. We felt only limited need to train on non-cloud services, as their future isn’t what it used to be.
Like most companies, we bought and maintained the hardware for our servers, but after reviewing the total cost of ownership in comparison to using a cloud based infrastructure, we decided to migrate to Azure. All business operations are now in Azure, and provisioning new servers or increasing resources to accommodate new business processes has never been easier. Engineers can now focus on more important things like secure operations rather than dealing with failed hard drives or airflow to servers.
As the shift into the cloud grows in 2018, TNT plans to be on the leading edge, and help empower our clients the enhance their business outcomes through IT.
Bitcoin has been around for years, but it has exploded in importance, and value, in the last few months. Why care?
Too many people don’t understand the big picture, and it is worth a response that removes the hype that is connecting Bitcoin with cybercrime and currency speculation. Let’s look at what is, why it is here, and what the direction of this technology looks like. Pretend I am talking about the future of mobile technology while the only thing you have ever heard of and used is a flip phone that can’t send and receive text messages, yet.
At the center of commerce is the ability for the buyer and seller to have a medium in which they can conduct business. They needed a language to communicate what they had to sell and what they needed to buy, and they needed a tool to facilitate that transaction. Because of original sin, people cheat and steal to get ahead. The victims of their efforts always asked their governments to intervene, not only to create a restitution for the crime but to put in measures to prevent it from happening again. Institutions and inventions are a result of this innate human failure. Some examples include serial numbers, the Federal Reserve System, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI. None of these exist without humanity having this desire to lie and steal to get ahead.
Bitcoin is simply one of many cryptocurrencies, or ‘cryptos’ for short, that are out there. When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin in 2008, he had a simple set of intentions. He wanted educated buyers and sellers to get back to the business of business. He wanted them to be able to have a medium of transaction that didn’t have any third-party regulation, knowing good and well that educated buyers and sellers don’t want that. It is the uneducated or the scared who want those services. If I want to buy and you want to sell, no one else needs to be involved, EVER…that was his thinking. That meant he needed to create a decentralized currency equivalent that didn’t require a bank or administrator to get involved to do business. The ledger for accounting was distributed, meaning no one had “the whole” history of the item. That “no one gets more than a piece of the checkbook” idea became known as blockchain technology. He wanted to limit the number of bitcoins in circulation, to prevent people from printing currency. He wanted to make it easy to exchange goods and services, with the currency used being as safe and secure against tracking and fraud as possible.
We have not used it that way. My father-in-law is treating cryptos like they are assets, to be bought and sold with the frequency of stocks and other tradable assets. He is not alone. I, too, own some cryptos, and I have bought and sold them, and have made good money doing it. But both of us are way off base. We are using a hammer to pound in a screw.
Bitcoin, he imaged, would be a currency that people could use to buy pizza, get a haircut and pay their rent, without anyone ever having the power to regulate the transaction. Today, though, Bitcoin has its greatest name as the currency of cybercrime, as criminals are using it to get paid when they deploy a ransomware attack via a thoughtful email. Business asset owners are discovering bitcoin when they are approached by an IT guy who tells them that their network has been locked, and the only way to get a key to their data is to buy some bitcoin and send it to an anonymous person whom they can’t track.
Cryptocurrencies have some obstacles to overcome before they are a mainstream tool. To begin, cryptos can be stolen, and there is little if any unique offerings to prevent this theft from occurring; a password and a stolen phone can give you access to Fort Knox. Another more daunting obstacle is the government. Several governments like Australia have already slammed the door on the use of cryptos, making the routing of them through their banks a big no-no. Governments' loss of ability to regulate and tax crypto transactions has taken their legs out from underneath them. Unfortunately, a small number of people are ASKING our governments to be an obstacle and have the ability to trace/track bitcoin transactions to find bad guys and extract tax revenues. The story currently doesn’t have a happy ending for anyone, as there is no method to get all the pieces of the checkbook together to track the exchanges to see who paid for who to commit a crime. Governments have a bad image to address in their inability to do what is asked of them. As such, when a law enforcement agency catches a bad guy and extracts his/her crypto from their computer/phone, they stand up and shout of their success. The truth is the bad guy left his cryptos is a public place that anyone could have taken it from, no different than leaving your wallet on the counter. Even the most powerful computers used by the richest of governments can’t find out who held the bitcoin last week. The definition of blockchain is truly a pain in the side of everyone both in law enforcement and regulation.
Finally, there is no mechanism to increase the supply of bitcoin using the current methods available. Nakamoto didn’t perceive a need to support growth in value of hundreds of millions in a month, yet that is where we are now.
I think bitcoin (or its technical replacement) will be a mainstream idea sooner rather than later. People do not want to use cash or even credit card anymore to purchase goods and services. The growth of Amazon’s Buy it Now service shows that folks are more interested in faster identity verification and convenience than they are in physical security associated with cash, checks, and credit cards.
Amazon has all but announced that it intends to begin use cryptocurrencies. They have bought several domain names associated with cryptos. What is the news here? Amazon is formally in the weeds with the use of cryptos. The odds are more than likely, government regulation will show up sooner rather than later, and the vision that Nakamoto had will be lost in translation.
Your response should be a desire for education. An MSNBC reporter announced that he thought Bitcoin would hit 200,000 sometime in 2018. Holy cow. That means a Bitcoin could buy an entire house! How cryptos work should be for you like the way your grandparents first viewed Mastercard and VISA when they were introduced in the late 50s. This will become your mode of commerce. You only control when.