2018 Tech Trends from High Alpha

by Drew Beechler - Director of Marketing

Now that 2018 is here, I always find it interesting to hear predictions on what the new year will have in store, the fads that will come and go, and what new trends will pop up. I’ve collected and compiled a list of tech trends and predictions below from our extremely talented team here at High Alpha to help you get ahead and stretch your mind to the possibilities that 2018 could hold.

Recruiting and Talent AI

The biggest trend on my radar is the use of AI in HR and recruitment processes. I’ve already seen a lot of new ideas surrounding the use of AI to automate screening resumes, the use of chatbots to keep candidates engaged, AI that coaches interviewers in real time during interviews, and predictive candidate sourcing. I think this will continue in 2018 and start to become more mainstream.

Amanda Poole, Recruiting Specialist @ High Alpha

The Future of Labor

Over the past couple years, I’ve done a great deal of research around the future of labor. I think in 2018 it will be interesting to see how universal basic income (UBI) experiments develop and if this issue gets more mainstream attention—rather than mainly just the tech community talking about it.

You are already seeing how the growth of the economy is shifting more and more towards returns on capital and away from returns on labor. This will eventually catch up to us and force a big change in the structure of our labor and overall economy—it will be interesting to watch what happens and how this progresses in 2018!

Brigitte Hackler, Financial Analyst @ High Alpha

AI Content Generation Will Become a Mainstream Technology

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), which create text, images, and now videos that are indistinguishable from human-generated content are making huge strides and starting to become more commonplace. Thanks in part to the explosion in data required to train these models and computational power increases coming from modern GPU’s, automated content generation will become a mainstream technique in the next few years. This will revolutionize software’s ability to organically create content in order to revolutionize customer experience, marketing, and sales.

For an cool example, check out some of the work Nvidia is doing to train self-driving cars with AI-generated snow.

Mark Clerkin, Data Scientist @ High Alpha

ICO 2.0

If I could pick one fad that highlighted 2017, it would be the Bitcoin and ICO craze. In 2017, cryptocurrencies hit record highs, 235 ICOs took place, and over $3.7B was raised in ICOs (Coinschedule).

I think in 2018, people will realize that many of these ICOs were a poor investment—or scam—and we’ll see the demand for ICOs fall. Just like the dotcom bust giving birth to the second wave of the internet, though, I think we will start to see some interesting innovation around the underlying blockchain technology that will pave the way for ICO/Blockchain 2.0.

Blake Koriath, VP of Finance @ High Alpha

Technology that Helps Us “Unplug” from Technology

I think a big trend in 2018 will be consumers looking for more ways to unplug. I think we’ll start to see more apps that encourage mindfulness or even features in existing apps and products that tell you when you’ve been on their app too long. For example, you can envision the Facebook app giving you an automatic warning after spending over 60 minutes in one day using the app and offering alternatives to unplug or a “do not disturb” mode.

I feel people are really starting to pay attention now to the potential negative effects of all the technology advancements and that will continue in 2018.

Nancy Gutwein, Talent Specialist @ High Alpha

Continued Growth in Video Marketing

A huge trend for marketers in 2018 will be around video marketing. Content marketers are continuously looking for new ways to stand out and engage in new and different ways, and video is a medium that allows limitless creativity. Video production continues to become cheaper and more accessible with tools such as Instagram Live. This format of content creation will continue to expand and be a primary medium for companies to standout and connect with current and future customers in a creative and personal way.

Paige Haefer, Marketing Associate @ High Alpha

Your Product Has to Become a Marketing Lever

Kristian Andersen here at High Alpha has said often:

“You have to be intentional about baking marketing into your product.”

I think this will become even more important in 2018. Over the last couple years, we’ve seen a renewed focus on product marketing, the emergence of product qualified leads (PQLs), and the rise (and fall) of the “growth marketing” buzzword. Specifically in SaaS, buyers are becoming overwhelmed with traditional SDR cold calls, prospecting emails, and nurture tracks—they want to experience and test your product even before they ever sit on a demo with your sales reps.

I think 2018 will be the year where even enterprise SaaS software companies will have to find ways to use their product as a marketing lever beyond a “free trial” or demo video. Our portfolio company Quantifi recently launched Constellation, which is a perfect example of utilizing your product as a marketing lever and lead generation opportunity, while also providing real value to your audience.

Drew Beechler, Director of Marketing @ High Alpha

The “Outsourcing” of Innovation

As startups continue to disrupt mainstream industries, we’ll see an increase in the number of “corporate” businesses who “outsource” innovation. While internal R&D teams will continue to receive the highest percentage of funding, corporates will begin to invest small amounts of R&D dollars elsewhere. Large corporations are beginning to recognize that the confines of a corporation — its governance, systems & processes, methods of compensation, and sometimes even talent pools — snuff out radical innovation, so they will move parts of their innovation function outside the four walls of the company.

Two notable methods of “external R&D” that have emerged & will continue to scale in 2018 are:
(1) private investment funds that invest corporate dollars into a portfolio of emerging startups in the corporation’s industry
(2) venture studios who co-develop concepts into new companies alongside the corporation

Ryan Larcom, Director of Operations @ High Alpha

AR and VR Make Strides as a Social Activity

2018 will see some big changes in some of the methodologies of tech trends. I think the big one is AR and VR. So far, they have underachieved compared to some of the bigger expectations of consumer demand. I think in 2018 VR and AR—by proxy of the deployment in more user-friendly form factors and a budding smartphone AR arms race between Google and Apple—will make big strides, specifically in becoming a social activity.

Currently, most AR and VR experiences are individual entertainment experiences. The social virality that brought AR to the forefront was with social apps like Pokémon Go—and Niantic is already building similar new experiences. I think a lot of developers will look at that and create highly social-oriented apps using the technology, giving it a second life in consumers’ hands.

Srikar Kalvakolanu, Research Analyst @ High Alpha