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Tech Trends to Watch in 2018

The tech world is always changing and progressing, and those of us who work in it know we have to stay on our toes to keep up. Honestly, though, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t love it.
We recently had the chance to ask the Namecheap Executive Team about their professional views on what tech to watch (and watch out for) in the new year.

The Big One

The tech trend overall in 2018, according to Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall, is going to be machine learning and robotics powered by Artificial Intelligence:
“While the last 20 to 30 years have largely been about software and virtual,” says Kirkendall, “hardware powered by that software is where the most exciting advancements will be taking place. With the focus on independent machines, I also believe we will see some key breakthroughs in battery technology.”
robot with locked smartphone
Phil McKegney, of the Namecheap R&D Lab, is keeping an eye on security, specifically cyber-defense. He predicts that broad awareness of security principles and vulnerabilities could drive consumer demands for accountability at the corporate and individual levels.
He specifically points to vulnerabilities that could arise as a result of a shifting legal and regulatory landscape. “Upcoming European privacy regulations will likely change publication of domain ownership records (Whois) as we know it. The adverse effect of this change may be the unintended facilitation of online abuses like fraud and spam, especially in the near- to mid-term while new control solutions are developed.”
Chief Cloud Officer, Matt Russell, is watching the spike in the data load demanded by these emerging systems and the infrastructure that will be needed to support and secure it. Eva Alexandropoulos, Namecheap’s Chief Marketing Officer, names the rise of cryptocurrency and its acceptance in the mainstream financial industry as one of her major points of focus in the coming year.

Disruptors and Innovators

Mavericks and rogues are commonplace in the high-tech world, where, unlike in the movies, we look to them for leadership, guidance, or influence on the next big thing. So who are the major “movers and shakers” for 2018?
Perhaps surprisingly, nearly everyone on Namecheap’s Executive Team mentioned a familiar name: Amazon.
“Amazon continues to disrupt at a breathtaking place,” notes Russell. COO Hillan Klein agrees, predicting that Amazon will continue to dominate across its existing range of industries, and likely move into other (perhaps unexpected) industries, disrupting the way that they operate.
Alexandropoulos, in fact, voices her concern that online retail giant may be advancing too far too quickly, wondering “How big is big? Whole Foods? What is next for them, and is that really fostering competition or making it harder to enter the market?”
Luckily, all agree that competition in the marketplace is alive and well, with key players in  innovation being more familiar names: Google, Alibaba, Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), Boston Dynamics, and even Walmart (which, says McKegney, has the potential to seriously compete with Amazon as it makes further strides in the tech space ecosystem). Aside from retail and cloud services, industries such as transportation, clean energy, and AI learning promise to be key innovation proving grounds for new tech.

In With the New

The only constant in the tech world is change.
What was once a convenient add-on or novelty suddenly becomes indispensable for online business and e-Commerce. As an example, who would have believed, at the beginning of 2017, that SSL assurance would be an essential component of every single site on the web by the end of the year?
So what will come into focus this year as the old way of doing things fades away? The efficiency and security of data transmission is a clear front-runner with this group.
Blockchain
robot with bitcoin
Kirkendall is all-in on this emerging technology. He explains, “I believe blockchain technology is going to change the way we manage and secure domains.” But it won’t just stop at web services, he says. “The entire way we pay for things and pay each other will change dramatically and it will all be powered by the blockchain and blockchain based technologies.”
Social Data Security
McKegney and Alexandropoulos both see a shift happening in personal data sharing and social media, with users becoming more judicious about the privacy and security of their information. “I think traditional social media like Facebook usage might change in 2018 as mistrust around its usage grows,” says McKegney. “I expect (and hope) to see that people will share less and be more critical of what is shared with them.”
Here, they are backed up by Kirkendall, who has been a champion of protecting users’ data and information since starting Namecheap in 2000. “Look for things like faster and more secure registrar-to-registrar transfers. Things like Whois output, validation, and ownership will be transformed by it.”

Web Services: The Next Gen

Naturally, when asked about new things on the horizon for domains, hosting, security and other web products, the conversation gets a bit more lively with this team.
Machine Learning and AI
robot hands using computer
Returning to talk of robotic assistance, Klein says he believes that AI and machine learning will impact this industry significantly, bringing more value and more effective tools to build and grow businesses online. “This will help entrepreneurs get off the ground faster, and bring their next innovation to more people in a meaningful way,” he states.
Russell agrees, citing better, easier, and more automated security driven by machine learning as being in the cards for 2018. Shared hosting, he goes on to say, will offer “more specialized and targeted hosting (like cloud apps such as EasyWP), where instead of giving someone a chunk of server space and a toolkit to do the build themselves, we abstract a lot of this for them and make it super easy.”
The Consumer Community
McKegney has faith in humans, however. “At the consumer level, personal security and responsibility tools could also start to become more commonplace. For example, anti-virus companies now have browser plugins that alert to potentially hazardous websites. This type of concept could become accepted as a distributed model where communities actively review content as a public service.”
He also speculates that a shakeup is coming in domain transfer and ownership. “For domains, low-value leases could be on the horizon. Acceptance of non-standard pricing models could allow the development of a C2C opportunity where individual domain owners can make arbitrage plays, buying domains for basic registration price–$10/year, for example–then lease the domain on an open-ended lease for $10/year plus their desired markup.”

Namecheap Looks Ahead

So now we know what these execs see on the horizon for 2018, but what excites them the about the year ahead for Namecheap?
An enthusiastic “Everything!” from the group notwithstanding, Kirkendall takes aim at a specific target: “I want to solve the complex and age-old problem of managing DNS. The process hasn’t changed much since its inception. I believe there can be a way to programmatically solve this so that 99% of users will never have to do this because an underlying layer of technology will.”
Alexandropoulos echoes this devotion to customer satisfaction as the company’s primary and unwavering mission. From reliable tools and services upon which Namecheap has built its reputation to embracing emerging trends like AI and machine learning and how it impacts our customers, she says, “We will be able to use insights to drive relevant need-based solutions.”
Now that you’ve heard from our team, what do you think the next big thing in tech will be?
Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments. We always love to know what our customers and colleagues think about the dynamic and exciting business that is the Internet.
And be sure to check out Namecheap when you’re in the market for a great hosting package for your next website.

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Basil Harris avatar

Basil Harris

Basil is a senior content writer for Namecheap, Inc. Based in Seattle, he works as a freelance copywriter, actor, teacher, performance and presentation coach, and musician. Against the advice of his friends, children, and personal physician, he’s recently become obsessed with skateboarding and personal electronic transportation gadgets. More articles written by Basil .

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