It’s that time of year when people make predictions and resolutions. Some make specific predictions about specific companies – this piece is more about tipping point predictions – things that we are ready for, or that need to happen now. Some of them are company specific, but they are generally more things that need to happen or that we are all just plain ready for. This starts with something most of us have heard a lot about but we still don’t fully understand – and it ends with something most of us understand and we are fully ready for.
There has already been a prediction post on this site on the future of the ICO market (spoiler alert – SEC regulations will be the norm) and since that one is already coming true – here are ten more that seem pretty likely.
So have a look and send me your reactions and feedback.
- Most People Still Won’t Understand Blockchain – but that won’t slow its growth. Blockchain is revolutionary in many ways – as William Mougayar explains in his book The Business Blockchain . But it’s pretty complicated for most people to understand not only what it is – but we see it will add value to their business. That won’t change in 2018 – but that’s OK. POSaBIT and Wyre are perfect examples of companies that use blockchain to solve basic problems. POSaBIT is a point-of-sale solution used by companies that can’t legally use credit cards for their product – their product is marijuana and until POSaBIT came along, it had to be an all cash business because FDIC insured banks in the US (which is all of them) don’t let you deposit money if you are in a business that is not federally approved (marijuana is not – though some states such as Washington and Colorado have legalized it). POSaBIT solved that using blockchain. It’s not worth going into in this piece how they did it – and that’s largely the point – as long as it solved a real business problem – and this was a really big one, most people don’t need to understand how they did it. Wyre is another example of a company that allows people to convert from one currency to the next at very good exchange rates. It was a big problem and they solved it using blockchain. This is the trend we will see continuing – people will be talking less about blockchain and more about the real problems they are solving.
- Passwords will go away – fast – and trust will grow. We have so many IDs and passwords for everything from bank accounts to social networking – and when you stop to think about it – it’s pretty crazy. It’s rooted in a lack of trust in internet communications and we have this strange solution that has persisted for over 20 years. For that to go away – there has to be very clear trust on both sides of the interaction, and for that to happen without IDs and passwords, a couple of dominos need to fall. The first is biometrics – fingerprints, voice, facial recognition are already taking the place of passwords on iPhones and other devices. But that’s not enough beyond unlocking your own personal phone (which had pretty light security in the first place). The next piece is that the information has to be in a place that’s un-hackable. That has also been solved with what’s called the “secure enclave” of the smart mobile device. The final piece of the puzzle is in some ways the hardest – verifying that the person is who they say they are. It’s one thing to recognize Ulrich’s face with a stored value of his face – but how do we know it’s not just a picture of Ulrich – and how do we know Ulrich has a valid photo ID (valid, not tampered with driver license or passport, e.g.) to match the selfie. That’s hard because of the hundreds of documents across hundreds of countries to verify a person. AuthenticID has solved this and while they did not make headlines in 2017, expect to hear more about them and the big companies that are using their technology – soon. Full disclosure I work closely with that organization – but that doesn’t change the fact that they are positioned to knock over a big domino in trust and security on the path to shedding all of those silly IDs and passwords.
- US Health Transparency Will Begin. In the US if you make an appointment to see a doctor – it is practically impossible to get them to tell you how much the medical visit is going to cost. When you say that out loud – it sounds even crazier. But it’s true. The reasons for this are understood – and the problem won’t be 100% solved in 2018, but the problem is so bad that people like Andy Singleton are well on their way to creating ways to have transparency in some areas.
- Facebook Death Will Have a Huge Ripple Effect. If you have teenage kids or younger, you probably know that they don’t use Facebook. Some of that’s because they think it’s for old people and some of it is because Facebook has lost its way and gone too far with marketing and sponging information from users to sell things back to them. So while it’s not news that Facebook is going to plummet – the interesting thing will be who they drag down with them. Google will suffer, Amazon will suffer – the list is long and while this won’t happen overnight – the impacts will reverberate farther and wider than we might expect. There was a time I was bitter for not buying Facebook stock – now I am glad.
- Tesla buys GM or PG&E or Both. Tesla is already changing the world of electricity and transportation. Right now their growth is limited by their ability to make batteries fast enough in large enough volume. They will solve that and once they do they can grow much faster if they buy a big car maker like GM or Ford. If that’s too messy and bureaucratic they might just buy a big electric company like PG&E now that they are selling solar panels. Tesla is not always in the big conversations amid Facebook, Amazon, Netflix (some call them the FANG companies) but Elon Musk never does things on a small scale and I think he could buy one or both of those companies this year.
- Currency and Credit Cards Get a Run For their Money. Having already mentioned POSaBIT for solving a currency problem in the world of marijuana – currency as a whole is ready for a huge disruption. The point about trust and IDs and passwords around AuthenticID and blockchain relate to this challenge as well on the cost side of banking – costs they have to end up getting customers to pay (Know Your Customer – KYC and Anti-Money Laundering – AML) are tens of billions of dollars every year. Teal Networks is just one company that is creating its own currency ecosystem – calling out just how silly bank accounts and credit cards are for taking so much of our money from us under what are really false risks and pretenses.
- Uber will collapse. Uber has been an amazing bow wave of rethinking transportation for the last five years or so, but losing billions and facing internal troubles and legal issues, they seem doomed to collapse. Lyft looks like it can survive and the idea Uber created will live on – it just doesn’t look like they are going to be able to raise prices and still survive and keep drivers. This is the only one I hope I am wrong about – but it seems inevitable.
- There will be a Tax on driving – OR an insurance company will offer a steep discount to shift to self-driving cars. Uber and Tesla have forever changed transportation and the way we think about it. The self-driving car is both amazing and embarrassing. It’s embarrassing because I think we believe we are good drivers and that it would take a long time to teach a computer to be as good as we are – but they did it really fast. Which means we are terrible drivers. That means it’s very dangerous for us to be driving when a computer can do much better. So there will be a big push to get us out of the driver’s seat in a hurry.
- Echo/Alexa/Google Home/Apple Will Have a Privacy Disaster. Home devices are already changing the world – Saturday Night Live did this very funny piece about it already. The problem is the big brother element that they can be listening to everything we say from arguments to intimate moments. Somehow – Alexa or Echo will be caught up in listening to something they are not supposed to – or a crime will take place and the police will subpoena the recording to find out what happened and we will learn that they are always listening and that we need to be very careful about talking around them. This will get ugly.
- Predictive Analytics Will Have Consumer Apps. Ending on a positive note, we have been hearing for years about how companies are using Big Data and Predictive Analytics to get smarter about spending money on marketing and personalizing marketing and flat out getting better about getting our money. What’s going to happen in 2018, and I don’t have a company name for this one, is that someone is going to hand the reins over to us so that we can predict good things – like when our kid needs help on their homework or when Mom needs someone to help her get to the doctor. Those aren’t great examples – but I think if we could have predictors of what friends and family want and need – we can be better friends and family members, and that will be better.
Have a great 2018.