2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.


The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader



01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?




AT&T’s $1 billion gambit: Retraining nearly half its workforce for jobs of the future — from cnbc.com by Susan Caminiti

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

  • AT&T initiated a massive retraining effort after discovering that nearly half of its 250,000 employees lacked the necessary skills needed to keep the company competitive.
  • Ninety percent of maturing companies expect digital disruption, but only 44 percent are adequately preparing for it.
  • Despite the federal government’s investment in job-retraining efforts, most are deemed ineffective.


The discovery presented AT&T with two daunting options, explains Bill Blase, senior executive vice president of human resources. “We could go out and try to hire all these software and engineering people and probably pay through the nose to get them, but even that wouldn’t have been adequate,” he explains. “Or we could try to reskill our existing workforce so they could be competent in the technology and the skills required to run the business going forward.”


In a world where technology advances are measured in months, not years, companies selling everything from computers and cellphones to cereal and sneakers are trying desperately to adapt. A recent research report by the Society for Human Resource Management states that nearly 40 percent of hiring managers cite lack of technical skills among the reasons why they can’t fill job openings.

And the message isn’t lost on workers, either. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey shows that more than half of the adults in the workforce today realize that it will be essential for them to get training and develop new skills throughout their career in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.

In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson, 90 percent of maturing companies expect digital disruption, but only 44 percent are adequately preparing for it — and getting the right people to get the work done remains a challenge for most.

AT&T’s massive global retraining program — the company prefers to call it “reskilling” — is perhaps corporate America’s boldest response to this war for talent. Known inside the company as Future Ready, the initiative is a $1 billion web-based, multiyear effort that includes online courses; collaborations with Coursera, Udacity and leading universities; and a career center that allows employees to identify and train for the kinds of jobs the company needs today and down the road. An online portal called Career Intelligence lets workers see what jobs are available, the skills required for each, the potential salary range and whether that particular area is projected to grow or shrink in the years ahead. In short, it gives them a roadmap to get from where they are today to where the company needs them to be in the future.



From DSC:
This article is encouraging in at least a couple of ways to me:

  • A large company is choosing to retrain its employees, helping them to learn and grow — to reinvent themselves and to stay relevant
  • A large company is recognizing the exponential pace of change that we’re now on. The question is, are we ready for it?




2018 Workplace Learning Report — from learning.linkedin.com


The path to opportunity is changing
The short shelf life of skills and a tightening labor market are giving rise to a multitude of skill gaps. Businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the curve, trying to hold onto their best talent and struggling to fill key positions. Individuals are conscious of staying relevant in the age of automation.

Enter the talent development function.
These organizational leaders create learning opportunities to enable employee growth and achievement. They have the ability to guide their organizations to success in tomorrow’s labor market, but they can’t do it alone.

Our research answers the talent developer’s most pressing questions:
* How are savvy talent development leaders adapting to the pace of change in today’s dynamic world of work?
* Why do employees demand learning and development resources, but don’t make the time to learn?
* How do executives think about learning and development?
* Are managers the missing link to successful learning programs?


From DSC:
Even though this piece is a bit of a sales pitch for Lynda.com — a great service I might add — it’s still worth checking out. I say this because it brings up a very real trend that I’m trying to bring more awareness to — i.e., the pace of change has changed. Our society is not ready for this new, exponential pace of change. Technologies are impacting jobs and how we do our jobs, and will likely do so for the next several decades. Skills gaps are real and likely growing larger. Corporations need to do their part in helping higher education revise/develop curriculum and they need to offer funds to create new types of learning labs/environments. They need to offer more internships and opportunities to learn new skills.




PD is getting so much better!! — from cultofpedagogy.com by Jennifer Gonzalez




1. Unconferences
2. Intentional professional learning communities (PLCs)
3. Choice Boards
4. Personal Action Plans
5. Voluntary Piloting
6. Peer Observation
7. Microcredentials
8. Blended Learning
9. Lab Classrooms




From DSC:
After seeing the article entitled, “Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper,” I began to wonder…might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule & provide practice tests & distributed practice on content? In the future, will there be “learning bots” that a learner can employ to do such self-testing and/or distributed practice?



From page 45 of the PDF available here:


Might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule/provide practice tests & distributed practice on content?





Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from edsurge.com  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at edsurge.com.

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient




From DSC:
DC: Will Amazon get into delivering education/degrees? Is is working on a next generation learning platform that could highly disrupt the world of higher education? Hmmm…time will tell.

But Amazon has a way of getting into entirely new industries. From its roots as an online bookseller, it has branched off into numerous other arenas. It has the infrastructure, talent, and the deep pockets to bring about the next generation learning platform that I’ve been tracking for years. It is only one of a handful of companies that could pull this type of endeavor off.

And now, we see articles like these:

Amazon Snags a Higher Ed Superstar — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman
Candace Thille, a pioneer in the science of learning, takes a leave from Stanford to help the ambitious retailer better train its workers, with implications that could extend far beyond the company.


A major force in the higher education technology and learning space has quietly begun working with a major corporate force in — well, in almost everything else.

Candace Thille, a pioneer in learning science and open educational delivery, has taken a leave of absence from Stanford University for a position at Amazon, the massive (and getting bigger by the day) retailer.

Thille’s title, as confirmed by an Amazon spokeswoman: director of learning science and engineering. In that capacity, the spokeswoman said, Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon.”

No further details were forthcoming, and Thille herself said she was “taking time away” from Stanford to work on a project she was “not really at liberty to discuss.”


Amazon is quietly becoming its own university — from qz.com by Amy Wang


Jeff Bezos’ Amazon empire—which recently dabbled in home security, opened artificial intelligence-powered grocery stores, and started planning a second headquarters (and manufactured a vicious national competition out of it)—has not been idle in 2018.

The e-commerce/retail/food/books/cloud-computing/etc company made another move this week that, while nowhere near as flashy as the above efforts, tells of curious things to come. Amazon has hired Candace Thille, a leader in learning science, cognitive science, and open education at Stanford University, to be “director of learning science and engineering.” A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon”; Thille herself said she is “not really at liberty to discuss” her new project.

What could Amazon want with a higher education expert? The company already has footholds in the learning market, running several educational resource platforms. But Thille is famous specifically for her data-driven work, conducted at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, on nontraditional ways of learning, teaching, and training—all of which are perfect, perhaps even necessary, for the education of employees.


From DSC:
It could just be that Amazon is simply building its own corporate university and will stay focused on developing its own employees and its own corporate learning platform/offerings — and/or perhaps license their new platform to other corporations.

But from my perspective, Amazon continues to work on pieces of a powerful puzzle, one that could eventually involve providing learning experiences to lifelong learners:

  • Personal assistants
  • Voice recognition / Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • The development of “skills” at an incredible pace
  • Personalized recommendation engines
  • Cloud computing and more

If Alexa were to get integrated into a AI-based platform for personalized learning — one that features up-to-date recommendation engines that can identify and personalize/point out the relevant critical needs in the workplace for learners — better look out higher ed! Better look out if such a platform could interactively deliver (and assess) the bulk of the content that essentially does the heavy initial lifting of someone learning about a particular topic.

Amazon will be able to deliver a cloud-based platform, with cloud-based learner profiles and blockchain-based technologies, at a greatly reduced cost. Think about it. No physical footprints to build and maintain, no lawns to mow, no heating bills to pay, no coaches making $X million a year, etc.  AI-driven recommendations for digital playlists. Links to the most in demand jobs — accompanied by job descriptions, required skills & qualifications, and courses/modules to take in order to master those jobs.

Such a solution would still need professors, instructional designers, multimedia specialists, copyright experts, etc., but they’ll be able to deliver up-to-date content at greatly reduced costs. That’s my bet. And that’s why I now call this potential development The New Amazon.com of Higher Education.

[Microsoft — with their purchase of Linked In (who had previously
purchased Lynda.com) — is
another such potential contender.]




Work From Home 2018: The Top 100 Companies For Remote Jobs — from forbes.com by Laura Shin


The top sectors offering such work are health care, computer/IT, education/training, sales, customer service, finance and travel/hospitality of the 19 industries represented on the list. Five of the fastest-growing remote career categories are therapy, virtual administration, client services, tutoring, and state and local government. The 20 most common telecommuting job titles include teacher, writer, developer, analyst, sales representative, nurse, accountant and program manager. Five companies are fully remote, and 30 are newcomers to the list.


Also see:

20 Most Common Work-from-Home Job Titles — from by Jessica Howington

  1. Accountant
  2. Program Manager
  3. Teacher / Faculty
  4. Writer
  5. Consultant
  6. Engineer
  7. Project Manager
  8. Business Development Manager
  9. Account Manager / Account Executive
  10. Tutor
  11. Developer
  12. Customer Service Representative
  13. Sales Representative
  14. Analyst
  15. Editor
  16. Nurse
  17. Medical Coder
  18. Territory Sales Manager
  19. Case Manager
  20. Internet/Social Media Evaluator




The next era of human|machine partnerships
From delltechnologies.com by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies


From DSC:
Though this outlook report paints a rosier picture than I think we will actually encounter, there are several interesting perspectives in this report. We need to be peering out into the future to see which trends and scenarios are most likely to occur…then plan accordingly. With that in mind, I’ve captured a few of the thoughts below.


At its inception, very few people anticipated the pace at which the internet would spread across the world, or the impact it would have in remaking business and culture. And yet, as journalist Oliver Burkeman wrote in 2009, “Without most of us quite noticing when it happened, the web went from being a strange new curiosity to a background condition of everyday life.”1


In Dell’s Digital Transformation Index study, with 4,000 senior decision makers across the world, 45% say they are concerned about becoming obsolete in just 3-5 years, nearly half don’t know what their industry will look like in just three years’ time, and 73% believe they need to be more ‘digital’ to succeed in the future.

With this in mind, we set out with 20 experts to explore how various social and technological drivers will influence the next decade and, specifically, how emerging technologies will recast our society and the way we conduct business by the year 2030. As a result, this outlook report concludes that, over the next decade, emerging technologies will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships that make the most of their respective complementary strengths. These partnerships will enhance daily activities around the coordination of resources and in-the-moment learning, which will reset expectations for work and require corporate structures to adapt to the expanding capabilities of human-machine teams.

For the purpose of this study, IFTF explored the impact that Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), and Cloud Computing, will have on society by 2030. These technologies, enabled by significant advances in software, will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships.

On-demand access to AR learning resources will reset expectations and practices around workplace training and retraining, and real-time decision-making will be bolstered by easy access to information flows. VR-enabled simulation will immerse people in alternative scenarios, increasing empathy for others and preparation for future situations. It will empower the internet of experience by blending physical and virtual worlds.


Already, the number of digital platforms that are being used to orchestrate either physical or human resources has surpassed 1,800.9 They are not only connecting people in need of a ride with drivers, or vacationers with a place to stay, but job searchers with work, and vulnerable populations with critical services. The popularity of the services they offer is introducing society to the capabilities of coordinating technologies and resetting expectations about the ownership of fixed assets.


Human-machine partnerships won’t spell the end of human jobs, but work will be vastly different.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that today’s learners will have 8 to 10 jobs by the time they are 38. Many of them will join the workforce of freelancers. Already 50 million strong, freelancers are projected to make up 50% of the workforce in the United States by 2020.12 Most freelancers will not be able to rely on traditional HR departments, onboarding processes, and many of the other affordances of institutional work.


By 2030, in-the-moment learning will become the modus operandi, and the ability to gain new knowledge will be valued higher than the knowledge people already have.



The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV




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