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What’s on the horizon for tech investments in 2018

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible)

Every year I think tech may take a pause, that true innovation will slow down and my business will turn to broader investments, but in reality it never does and 2018 is shaping up to be no different.   

Futurologists are looking at areas where we’ll see the most movement and it’s no surprise that the internet of things and artificial intelligence tops the innovation prediction list. 

Most of us are already familiar with the Internet of Things through our connected wearables, like fitness trackers and even accessories for our pets. In 2018 the IoT will keep getting smarter and become in effect “the Internet of eyes and ears” – able to watch and listen, and keep learning from the information it consumes.   

But we will only see these predictions become a reality with the right investment.

This will manifest itself in more and more everyday objects with in-built cameras and visual or speech recognition technology, from Nest cameras (which I myself am a huge fan of) to Amazon Echo. According to a report from the Innovation group and Mindshare (opens in new tab), approximately two-thirds of global smartphone users are interested in the prospect of voice-activated televisions and light switches. 

As an investor myself, I found it hugely encouraging to see Chancellor Hammond’s recognition of the value that technology brings us in his Autumn Budget at the end of last year. We are indeed at the forefront of a technological revolution and it’s essential to maintain that going forward, especially given the current economic uncertainty of the UK in the midst of Brexit. 10 years ago our company, Just Develop It, was built on technological investments and to this date, our largest and proudest investments consist of a range of technology from antivirus software to hosting sites and apps that are changing the way we work and live.   

We understand the limitless capabilities that technology can provide the UK and a focus on investment into technologies like AI, 5G and fibre broadband is crucial.    

The range of uses for AI is growing rapidly, from virtual assistants like Siri to increasingly sophisticated autonomous vehicles. There’s been a lot of conversation surrounding Bots becoming the new ‘face’ of customer service, with many referring to the creation of different ways of working in an environment that collaborates people with AI and bots.   

It’s been predicted that by 2020 over 50% of large companies will have integrated at least one bot to best assist their consumers. Companies will need to focus on ways to invest both time and money into technologies like chatbots and voice interfaces to determine how best to interact with their consumers and utilise these tools effectively.   

Focusing on 5G, it’s been anticipated that mobile phone networks will be rolling out 5G this year through to 2020. Considering this technology is predicted to be around 100 times faster than current offerings it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on from an investor perspective – particularly with its forecast to revolutionise IoT by allowing all devices to send and receive large amounts of data instantly. If all the rumours are true – 5G will have a huge impact on a number of major industries across the UK.   

However, as with any industry, tech can often see itself facing criticism. In 2017 it seemed that online security made the headlines more than ever and with calls for affirmative action, the market has never been more ready for smarter solutions.   

With an ever increasing fear over cyber-attacks and hacking as the new form of terror for JDi this year it’s about re-defining the anti-virus software market.  We’ve made movements in this space – our largest investment to date took place last year with online antivirus company Total AV and we will continue to look at new ways to make this cost effective and compelling for customer big and small.   

Investing in small businesses has never been more crucial. Small to medium sized business makes up 99% of the UK’s private sector business so it’s vital that we provide the right funding to allow them to flourish. Going back to the Autumn Budget, we saw an ambition to see a new high-tech business founded every half an hour enhancing both the tech and small business landscapes. JDi are certainly on the lookout to support and fund as many innovative start-ups as we can and would welcome this growth with open arms. 

I am very proud of how diverse our portfolio is at JDi – but a recurring theme has been the importance of technology. It’s what began my journey as an entrepreneur at just 16 years old, a teenage boy keen on both football and coding and frustrated with paying hosting fees. I spotted an opportunity, took advantage of the rise of the internet and created Dot 5 Hosting which I went on to sell at 18.   

Now at 32, my mind-set when it comes to technology is no different – it’s more important than ever and companies must not only keep up with emerging technologies that are changing our landscape, but invest in them if they want to remain at the forefront of innovation. Personally, I now rely on tech every day, mainstream platforms and apps like Google Hangouts and Whatsapp web allow me to stay in touch with the CEO’s of the various companies we invest in around the world.     

Whatever new tech is on the horizon, innovators need to have a real belief and drive in what they are bringing to the market. The past couple of years we’ve seen a great deal of change in the UK’s political climate and while that goes on, there’s an uncertain atmosphere lingering. Rather than waiting to see what happens, now is the time for investors to hit the ground running and really boost our countries business landscape. 

At JDi we strongly believe that the make or break of an idea lies with the personality behind it. Now coming up to its 10th year and £100 million in assets JDi is proof that investing in people, not just the tech, is a winning formula.

Chris Phillips, CEO and Co-Founder of Just Develop It (opens in new tab) 

Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock

Chris Phillips is the CEO and Co-Founder of global investment company: Just Develop It