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What Search Data Tells Us About Enterprise Tech Investments in 2018

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Click to learn more about author Ben Lorica.

Big Data, AI, Blockchain…the list of enterprise tech buzzwords rages on. With all the hype, it can be difficult for business leaders to determine which technologies to commit their money and minds to in the new year. Because of this, companies often move fast into new technologies without a real business strategy in mind or in tech that ultimately falls flat.

One way to avoid this pitfall is to go straight to the source – or rather pay attention to the trends most popular among software programmers. This group tends to be on the leading edge of what other companies will ultimately do, whether it’s computer data entry, internet use or analytics – and watching their moves can help executives and managers cut through the noise and offer valuable insights into the technology that’s going to change the world next.

To find out what that is, O’Reilly compiled data on the most popular search terms of its users. Many of these users have spent the last year trying to understand where to invest their tech resources. The results are highlighted in a new report, “3 technologies business leaders should watch and explore in 2018.” To better help organizations decipher between hype and game-changing technology, here are some of the key findings.

AI is Here to Stay 

From autonomous cars to voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, AI is infiltrating our consumer technology and even our newsfeeds, but it can also have real business impact, as evidenced by the popularity of AI-related search terms from the software community. Generic terms such as Deep Learning (60% growth) and Machine Learning (42% growth) were widely popular, but more specific programming terms – such as TensorFlow, Kafka and Python – suggest that AI has moved ambition to action, with tools for quick and straightforward deployment. Take for example the year-over-year leap for TensorFlow (146% growth in activity), a fairly new AI programming library, and Kafka (32% growth), through which analytics are often run on incoming data. Python, the top search term overall, is likely aligned with AI as well, as people dig into Python’s libraries for statistics and data manipulation. This data also points to open source technologies taking the lead over proprietary tools in the AI domain.

Security Takes a Back Seat

Surprisingly, ‘security’ didn’t even break the top 20 search terms. In fact, it was only the 47th most popular search term. Also surprising was the term ‘hacking,’ which came in at a staggering 127th on the list. With an onslaught of recent, devastating breaches such as Equifax, in which nearly half of Americans’ data was compromised, and EU-based organization preparing to meet GDPR compliance, it’s concerning that more executives aren’t proactively seeking out information on the topic. While it’s possible that security activity is included in other development work, it’s an essential area that deserves higher activity and ongoing attention.

Blockchain Makes its Mark

Despite the lack of interest in broader security terms, the leap in interest around Blockchain (107% growth in activity) is encouraging. Bitcoin is everywhere, so it’s no wonder the technology invented to power it is too. As the “Internet of Things” is to data, “The Internet of Value” is to Blockchain, making it simple to freely distribute money and bypass traditional middlemen like banks and governments. The Blockchain does this by accumulating transactions in a way that allows them to be verified. If either party to the transaction tries to dispute it, anyone with access to the Blockchain can prove that the party agreed to the transaction. However, Blockchain goes far beyond currency and finances, offering legal, safety and security guarantees to any industry that adopts it.

Although organizations may be in different stages when it comes to investments in technology, all businesses should be aware and thinking of how trending topics such as AI, security and Blockchain will impact their organization.

About the author

Ben Lorica is the Chief Data Scientist at O'Reilly Media, Inc. and is the Program Director of both the Strata Data Conference and the O'Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference. He has applied Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Machine Learning and Statistical Analysis in a variety of settings including Direct Marketing, Consumer and Market Research, Targeted Advertising, Text Mining, and Financial Engineering. His background includes stints with an investment management company, internet startups, and financial services. Follow Ben and O'Reilly at: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook

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