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Into the Future

January 3, 2018

2017 is history and 2018 is officially underway, and that means it’s time for our annual look into the future and what the new year will bring for software development.  As most of you know, Evans Data is the top resource for market intelligence on software developers.  This month marks our 20th anniversary of focusing exclusively on software developers and continually surveying them to find out what technologies they’re adopting, what their issues and goals are and what they think is going to happen in the future of software.  We also have tremendous insight from our clients.  Each day we talk with them and we find out what they are interested in knowing and what technologies they are exploring and planning to develop.  So, we’re in a pretty good position to hoist a crystal ball and foretell what the big technology news will be in 2018.

BitCoin and BlockChain

Well, you don’t need to have much inside information to know that BitCoin has taken the investing world by storm.  During 2017 the price of the digital currency surged more than 1,900 percent and at one point almost touched $20K. But as stock traders will point out, there’s definitely a bubble when even people who have no idea what an asset is are talking about it and trying to buy in.  BitCoin is now what is called “highly frothy” and we, like most financial observers, think that 2018 will see that bubble pop.  BlockChain, on the other hand, is here to stay and will continue to quietly grow as we go into the year.  The basic architecture of blockchain creates a distributed ledger system which makes for secure transactions which can always be verified and traced (though in some cases with difficulty).  Thus it is very useful in the financial world.  But we think it will also see wide acceptance in other areas such as healthcare, energy, defense and more.

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning

While BitCoin took the spotlight, the real surge in tech adoption came from the adoption of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.  This was spurred by an intense interest as well as a flood of new tools and libraries such as Tensorflow, Caffe, Watson and others that help developers easily incorporate machine learning into their apps.  By the end of 2017, more than 6.5M developers worldwide (29% of the world’s developer population) were integrating some machine learning techniques into their apps, while another 5.8M were planning to. While the largest group is within the APAC region, North American adoption is also hot.  Expect this to grow.

Augmented Reality

It’s easy enough to imagine augmented reality when it comes to games, as Pokemon Go so amply demonstrated, but that’s just a tiny fraction of what the technology can be used for.  We’re predicting a lot more implementations in the healthcare field, where doctors can now “look inside” a patient, or how about the remote specialist essentially projecting his hands into the display of a surgeon on site wearing Google Glass.  In manufacturing the uses are limited only by one’s imagination.  For example, service technicians and manufacturers can walk up to any item that has IoT technology and immediately have access to the object’s specs, inventory, location, and lead times.  In education, AR can replace outmoded and awkward learning tools.  The power and versatility of AR means its use is only limited by our imaginations and we foresee lots more AR use cases in the coming year.

Quantum Computing

This is the most nascent of the hot technologies for 2018, but one of the most far-reaching.  Simplistically, quantum computing veers away from our established bit based, on-off electrical circuit computing by allowing for superpositioning in which a state may be on or off or a combination of both.  Based on principles from quantum mechanics, this new technology is being pioneered by the likes of Google, IBM and Intel and while it may not command a lot of attention in 2018, the foundation that is created this year will be of utmost importance in the years to come.

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