As another year begins, it’s time to put on our future-vision goggles and look ahead to what we think 2019 holds for the tech world. Based on what we’re seeing in the market and hearing in our conversations, we’ve picked out five themes we expect will gain in prominence over the coming 12 months. We start with digital ethics.

Digital ethics: Increasing focus on ‘doing the right thing’

With every data breach that makes the news, so information security and privacy come more to the forefront of our minds, both at an individual level and at an organisation-wide level.

Looking at these large and complex area in terms of compliance with security and privacy regulations – as businesses often do – doesn’t necessarily address the real issue. For example, security compliance often involves going through checklists to show your service meets certain criteria. It’s a very sanitised and detached way of looking at what’s ultimately a human, ethical issue of trust between organisations and the individuals they’re interacting with. You may be compliant, but are you treating your customers in a way that builds confidence?

This is why we think there’s going to be a gradual shift in focus, with organisations’ mentalities moving away from simply ‘comply with the rules’ to a more holistic notion of ‘do the right thing’, of which complying with the rules is part. And that leads us nicely to our next prediction…

Rewarding businesses who do the right thing

2019 could be when we see the first big fines under GDPR. But as well as sanctions against those who break the rules, we’d hope to see rewards for organisations who do the right thing when it comes to digital ethics.

This could be both in the form of winning more customers, and through public recognition that they’re operating in a way that genuinely puts the interests of their clients, patients, citizens, employees or partners first.

5G to unlock completely new business opportunities, helped by AI and other cutting-edge tech

Next-gen 5G mobile networks are set to roll out in key locations across the UK during 2019. While it remains to be seen if the speeds are as high and latencies as low as some of the figures being talked about, 5G networks will definitely represent a step-change.

Organisations will be able to get data to users more quickly and reliably than ever before. This in itself will open up new opportunities to create products and services that are currently difficult or impossible to achieve – high-precision remote control of devices, such as surgical equipment, being one example.

The even more exciting things, however, will happen where innovators combine 5G with artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and other leading-edge tech to create new experiences in both B2B and B2C.

The rise and rise of video content

Wherever you look on the web, there’s video content. Demand for it will continue to rise through 2019, particularly in B2C, meaning organisations will need to put more resources into video.

That doesn’t just mean people’s time: the growth of video demands new approaches when it comes to creating, storing and distributing this content. 5G could start to play a role once its use becomes more widespread (and would enable consumers to enjoy richer, higher-quality experiences), while the various cloud platforms will become the default place for storage, given the sheer volume of footage being created and shared.

Artificial intelligence-driven development

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining momentum, and we expect to see its impact across digital development broaden during 2019.

This includes using AI to address previously unsolvable challenges, or as a way of solving things more quickly or accurately. This will require digital engineers to work alongside data scientists and AI specialists as a matter of course.

Equally, with high-calibre software engineers in short supply, there’s a real need to free up their time to focus where they can make the biggest impact. And that means using technology to help out wherever possible. Automation is already commonplace in certain aspects of digital product development, but bring AI into the mix, and there are some really exciting opportunities, including AI-driven code generation.

What do you think?

So that’s our predictions for some of the evolutionary and revolutionary things 2019 holds for the tech world. Do you agree? And what else do you think is going to make a big impact in the next 12 months? Let us know by tweeting us your own views on what’s to come this year.