2018 has arrived and by leaving behind a crazy 2017 in terms of new technology and innovative new products it’s going to be harder than ever to predict what trends we’ll see in the rugged and mobile markets. We’ve asked around, talked to customers and also debated in the office extensively this year in order to try and come up with a top 10. So, without further ado, here they are!
Rugged on the up
First of all, there’s a definite upwards demand trend for rugged mobile devices and we’ll see this grow into 2018. Like 4 or 5 years ago we’ll see end users opting for rugged smartphones and tablets in order to be able to get the job done without any hiccups that consumer devices give them. High prices, slowing innovation and the fact that Rugged devices are getting so damn good will ensure 2018 will definitely be a good year for rugged retailers.
One device, better than 2!
That’s not the whole story though. We predict here that we’ll see the strongest growth in the less rugged, do-it-all style of devices, like our Raptor C5 device. End users are being outsourced more often and driven to buying their own kit for work and these guys simply don’t want to buy a smartphone for home use and a ruggedized device for work. They want one device that’ll do it all and this trend has never been stronger.
Mobile innovation becomes niche
Whilst innovation in smartphones and tablets generally has all but gone, rugged devices will continue to innovate in niche areas. We’ve the success of rugged devices with heat-sensing cameras, for example, gain traction and I think we’ll see businesses turning to rugged suppliers who either already provide niche, focused services, or who can quickly build them.
Like RFID, voice has been around for decades in the data capture market. However, despite string presence in some warehousing markets, it’s never really become a mainstream product. In the consumer world, however, we’re seeing huge strides in voice recognition. Take the latest home assistants like Google Home or Amazon Echo, and you’ll see we’ve almost got Star Trek-like technology in our own homes! Not only is voice recognition hitting new heights in competence, but understanding the meaning and then inferring from that is too which will impact voice as an input and output technology hugely. 2018 will see a shift to voice in all areas of technology as we all start to wake up to just how good it has become.
Blockchain and mobile payments
Blockchain is a technology that really took off in 2017, but 2018 will be the year I think we’ll see that growth start to hit home in business applications. Cryptocurrency is going nowhere and more and more people and businesses are turning to it for its privacy, security and also innovative platform. We’ll also see services like Stripe and Paypal take centre stage again as they become the norm for people and businesses to use in order to take payments online and on handsets. The banks have been way too slow in this field and 2018 will see this go mainstream.
Apps are no longer good enough! Apps now need to be “intelligent” meaning they need to be doing more than just what you ask them to do. Intelligent apps will be thinking about you, be connected to backends and will be working hard to deliver new insights or data to your business. Business apps and tools that are seen as truly useful will see a clear shift in this area as we take baby steps into what technology can really do for our businesses this year.
Hardware connected Cloud
Strong cloud growth is on the cards for this year but I think that we’ll see in the rugged mobile world a true connection start to happen where devices and cloud back-ends become one thing. The cloud should start to understand your mobile estate (see intelligent apps above) and as businesses really now start to trust the cloud more than their own ability to store and use their own data, they’ll start to look for more.
Did you know that nearly half the sports stories you read online are now written by bots? Yeah, I’m not so sure about that either and I also hate it when you’re clearly talking to some bot on a support chat website too. They’re simply not good enough! However, they’re getting better by the day and now there’s technology that can be truly useful in all manner of businesses services. I think 2018 we’ll be the year we start to see these bots leak into the mainstream and you know what? I think like any other technology if they’re used properly, IE to enrich customer experiences and to not put up brick walls, then I think we’ll see a turning point next year.
Customers get even savvier!
I think we’ll also see a marked change in customers in 2018. Here at Raptor, we’ve never marketing “at” our customers but I think we’ll need to continue to find cool new ways to engage. With GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) coming in May 2018 and also a maturing customer base, it will be the suppliers that understand and provide to these customers who thrive in 2018. Suppliers will need to innovate monthly, not annually and offer flexibility like never before whilst making the whole process of buying and running a mobile platform as easy and simple as ever.
So there’s a few areas missing this like IoT and AI or machine learning. However, pick up any “technology predictions” blog and you’ll see that. We’ve tried to be a little more niche and real in our predictions here and how they’ll impact you… our customers in 2018.
Think we missed something? Then just let us know what you think. Comments are open!