With the Christmas holidays well and truly behind us for another year, we thought we’d get our techy brains back into gear as soon as possible. So, as tech never takes a break from moving forward, we thought we’d start the new year with some of the things to look out for over the next 12 months or so.
From the much talked about GDPR to chatbots, AR, and another boost in phone connectivity, here are our top 5 tech trends to look out for in 2019.
Yes, just when you thought you’d heard the last of GDPR and all the complexities of its introduction back in May 2018, we could now start seeing some big legal cases hit the news.
In an age when data security is often breached - with personal information potentially being bought and sold without consent - larger, global companies are still not taking the appropriate action to make GDPR a priority. Step forward Facebook.
A recent data breach of 50 million user accounts could see the social media giant liable for a fine of £1.25bn (4% of its annual turnover) under the new GDPR rules. But as this kind of legal challenge is completely new, no one knows how it might pan out. Many are keen to see Facebook brought down a peg or two, but it might take years to find out if they’re found guilty of such a breach. Or they could walk away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Whatever the result, it should kickstart a global trend that will hold companies to account for how they deal with customer privacy and their personal data and ensure they start taking GDPR more seriously in 2019.
Chatbots coming of age
Becoming more prominent in the digital landscape over recent years, 2018 saw chatbot tech really come of age to the point where we’re starting to see some powerful business advantages.
Consumers now look to complete online tasks themselves rather than speaking to an actual human and chatbot tech has helped make it possible. And as the tech continually improves, some sources are claiming that over the next 5 years around 80% of online customer communications will be via chatbots.
So what can we expect to see from the chatbots in 2019? Among other things, the use of natural language programming (NLP) is set to increase to make the ‘bots more human and handle even more customer service issues, voice-activated ‘bots will be more common giving us answers quicker, and automated call centres will be able to serve customers 24/7/365 with in-depth knowledge.
While chatbots are making great advances in retail, helping customers with a broad spectrum of issues, retailers are now using tech as part of a wider marketing trend. Augmented Reality (AR) might still be seen as a bit of gimmick, but 2019 could see a big advance in its tech to enhance experiences and display information in new ways.
Ikea’s Place app made the digital headlines in 2017 bringing AR to the mainstream, unleashing the latest AR tech in the process. By allowing their customers to place fully rendered 3D models of their furniture, via the app, into their own homes to check it for style, looks, and size, Ikea opened the doors for more brands, including Dulux and Wayfair, to follow suit.
So AR has moved from gimmick status to becoming the leading light of digital transformation in 2019. We talked about how using a mobile app to market your business can help you to harness the growing app economy and it’s now something many believe will accelerate throughout the year as retailers look for even more ways to engage with their customers.
The rise of digital twins
Not to be confused with a physical item simply having a digital version of itself (like a scanned photo). A digital twin is actually a digital representation of a physical object, including its data, and ability to monitor performance in real-time without needing to be anywhere near it.
While digital twins have been around since 2002, their rise has accelerated since 2017. And by 2020 some forecasts predict that around 60% of manufacturers will monitor product performance to improve the quality of their goods by using digital twins.
Tech in this area is ramping up and 2019 will see more companies in a wide range of sectors using digital twins to overcome key challenges such as maximising quality, gathering real-time data to improve decision-making, and developing customised products to deliver enhanced customer experiences.
The focus on 5G
First, we had 3G. Then we all got used to 4G. Now 2019 should see the emergence and launch of superfast 5G phone connectivity.
As wireless tech capabilities for 5G increase, it means the race to launch has been cranked up a notch, and not just between individual carriers, but actual countries as well. It's thought that 5G will get a simultaneous launch around the world with major cities getting first dibs on it, followed by national rollouts.
But where 4G took almost a decade to become the norm on our phones rather than a pleasant surprise, 5G looks to be in place much quicker. Depending on where you are and the type of phone you use, connectivity looks more likely to hit around 2020. We will, however, start to see 5G ready devices launched by flagship manufacturers in 2019.
What do you think about the upcoming tech trends for 2019? We’ve only scratched the surface of course, but let us know what you’ll be looking out for. In the meantime, if you want to incorporate chatbots, AR or anything else into your next big project, get in touch and let’s talk!