Wow – how much digital change happened in 2017? We saw the arrival of Amazon, the launch of the Google Cloud Platform in Australia, the rise of voice with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, Tesla’s model 3 was delivered, and Google’s Waymo self-driving car fleet passed the 4 million miles on public roads.
We saw ransomware attacks demanding payments in Bitcoin, and the price of one Bitcoin went from $1,000 to $22,000. Even some properties advertised in Australia had a Bitcoin price, and this week Bitcoin futures contracts were launched.
In the property space, we saw the further growth of fractional property investment platforms, a strong increase in digital mortgage originations, tie ups between property listings portals and mortgage providers, and the launch of a host of property based augmented reality apps utilising Apples’ ARKit.
So what is in store for next year? With massive public cloud providers such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft racing to commoditise machine learning and facilitating rapid digital innovation, what we do know is the pace of innovation will only increase.
My prediction is that next year will be the year of voice. We will see intelligent applications proliferate on top of the Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices – allowing customers to search for and select services using their voice. This will change the way we think of how we get service, and we will take for granted that devices will understand us.
In the property and mortgage industries we could see voice apps that guide buyers through a mortgage application, filling in forms for them, or helping them to setup appointments with professionals. We could see tenant service requests for maintenance being managed through a chat interface, home price estimates and area research being voice driven, and even 24 hour open homes allowing inspections at any time with access and information voice and biometric driven.
In 2018 will also see more happening in the sharing economy. General purpose 2-sided marketplaces are emerging, some powered by blockchain.These will allow people to share more and buy less. From renting your neighbours’ lawn mower, to sharing energy generation locally and reducing reliance on the grid, to sharing in the purchase and rental of properties with fractional investment schemes. Expect fractional platforms such as DomaCom, CoVesta and BrickX to become more mainstream, and for more peer-to-peer funded mortgage and loan providers to emerge.
Outside property, one prediction that is easy to make is there will be a price correction in the cryptocurrency world, with some people on the losing side of a Bitcoin price crash, and even outright fraud with some ICO’s. This should not dent the long term potential of blockchain to power new business models but it will inject a helpful level of caution in a similar way the dotcom crash of the early 2000’s did to the Internet.
And without a doubt we will see and hear more about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Yes there will be articles about AI ending our world with Skynet powered Terminators, but this ‘General Intelligence’ level of AI is not going to arrive next year. Rather there will be more intelligent services, homes, and devices. From self-driving cars, automated drones, and more effective one-to-one marketing platforms, ‘Narrow AI’ will be driving a lot of new value in our industry.
In the security space there will be more hacks and data breaches. We may see intelligent homes and devices being compromised, with our Intelligent Things sometimes becoming part of a malicious botnet. When your refrigerator is part of a denial of service attack on the pentagon and you need to worry about installing anti-virus while refilling the ice tray, you know the future has arrived.
By this time next year I might be dictating the next set of predictions to my Google assistant, while commuting in a ride sharing self-driving Tesla model 3 that was charged by solar roof tiles.
Whether this happens by 2018 or 2020, one thing is certain: change is accelerating. 2017 was the slowest innovation year for the rest of our lives!