The 6 big tech trends and stories that will affect startups in 2018

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Another year is coming to an end. In the next few weeks, you’ll likely see plenty of stories about the best viral videos of 2017 or the biggest headlines of the year. Rather than looking back, we will look ahead toward 2018.

There will be plenty of big trends, topics, and stories coming in 2018 that will affect startups in Dublin and around the world. Here are six that stand out to us.

General Data Protection Regulation

Imagine yourself back in school. It’s 11:45pm on the night before a major project is due. If you’re like me, you are far from done.

That is the situation many Irish businesses face regarding data protection. The General Data Protection Regulation takes effect in May. It will have huge ramifications across Europe and especially in Ireland.

No, a transition period doesn’t begin in May. The law does. Fines could start immediately according to Aoife Sexton, a Dún Laoghaire -based lawyer focused on technology and data protection.

Sexton told the crowd at the Dublin Startup Commission’s First Friday Brekkie in November that the GDPR could be one of the most wide-reaching regulatory change in Europe ever.

The law essentially says businesses and individuals need to be responsible with the personal data they collect. That means collecting only information that you need, securing the data well, deleting information that you don’t need, and being upfront with users in how their data will be used.

Not doing that will cost businesses dearly with fines, potential lawsuits, and more.

The regulations affect everyone from a personal website to Google, but Sexton says the way to be GDPR-compliant is not one-size-fits-all. Either way, companies need to really get going on that homework assignment now.

With Brexit and GDPR, Ireland does have a huge opportunity. It will be the only English-speaking country in the EU after Britain leaves. That means American (and British) firms who could have to deal with data protection commissioners may want to do that here. That gives them yet another reason to set up shop in Dublin.

Blockchain Growth

Sure, we’ll see more big headlines about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, however, could become so much more in 2018 according to Lory Kehoe, who leads Deloitte’s Dublin-based Blockchain Lab.

Blockchain, simply put, is the system of having multiple computers record each transaction and storing them in a linked chain ledger. It is a far more foolproof way to prevent fraud. Because there are multiple witnesses, it’s easier to spot fakes.

“While any data that needs to be in immutable form can reside in the blockchain, we are seeing more organisations consider this as an option to achieve data integrity,” says Kehoe.

In July, we featured a startup out of Trinity College Dublin that used blockchain technologies to power their event ticket reselling system. TicketChain’s founders say they can cut down on potential fraud (and therefore costs) when people want to buy and sell a ticket to a concert.

Deloitte’s Kehoe says Dublin startups will have excellent opportunities using blockchain, but founders must be smart to avoid becoming a target for cybercriminals.

“Start-ups by their nature focus on their new and innovate products,” says Kehoe. “However, compliance, regulatory and security requirements should always be front of mind.

Cybersecurity Threats

The threats posed by cyber gangs continue to grow. That’s the analysis from multiple cybersecurity experts including PwC’s Pat Moran and Jacky Fox, Cyber and IT Forensics Lead at Deloitte.

 

In an email to the Dublin Globe, Fox says many of the threats from the past remain (denial of service, ransomware, phishing, and hacking) but constant monitoring is imperative.

“Cyber is a moving target,” says Fox. “Next year’s objectives are always looming before you have finished this year’s improvement plans!”

Fox says businesses large and small must be prepared for the inevitable breach, especially with the new regulatory hurdles from GDPR.

  • Understand the current cyber maturity level
  • Educate users to threats and responses
  • Automate as much monitoring as possible
  • Identify the most important assets
  • Have a good incident response plan in place

Lory Kehoe, who runs Deloitte’s Blockchain Lab summarised it well: practice good end to end cyber hygiene.

“This is an imperative in today’s business landscape.”

Brexit

Ahh, Brexit. What business-focused list doesn’t include the haunting spectre of the UK’s withdrawn from the European Union? We’ve been talking about the divorce for a year and a half now. What is new? Early in 2018, we may finally get a real picture of what the Brexit deal will actually include.

Up until now, it’s all been speculation and questions. Will Britain remain in the Customs Union or not? What will the border with Northern Ireland look like? Most importantly, how will this affect Irish businesses?

As the CEO of Scurri, Rory O’Connor told me in late October, “[retailers] know something is going to happen, but they can’t plan for what they don’t know.”

The big change in 2018 is that we will know what’s on the table between Brussels and London. That will give businesses the chance to adapt and prepare. In some cases, that may mean focusing on different markets. For other companies, the best option may be to dive head first into the British market. Either way, it will certainly shape business decisions for years to come.

American Regulations

It’s not entirely clear what will happen coming out of the United States, but the rumblings suggest potential regulations for social media companies. After the profusion of fake news, bot accounts, and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Americans seem to be calling for some sort of change.

What that change will entail is anybody’s guess. It may involve better reporting rules for advertising dollars or perhaps a better system for reporting fake accounts. There may be regulation or maybe not.

Right now, Americans are split on whether to pass new laws regulating the social media giants like Facebook and Twitter. However, there will be added pressure for either the companies or regulators to do something.

We’ll just have to see who else those potential rules affect.

Dublin Tech Week

One of our favourite upcoming trends will be the excellent opportunities for the Dublin startup community to gather together! In a city as welcoming as Dublin, it’s no surprise there are plenty of meet-up groups and networking events to attend. From breakfasts to drinks out at night, there are so many ways to meet people.

In 2018, that opportunity will grow even more with Dublin Tech Week. As part of Dublin Tech Summit, the Tech Week will feature events all around town to showcase the awesome work happening every day.

Partners, including the Digital Hub and Tech Ireland will help bookend the Dublin Tech Summit with even more ways to connect and learn.

You can catch Dublin Tech Week from 16-20 April. Dublin Tech Summit is right in the middle of that from the 18th to the 19th.

The Best Is On The Way

In 2018, there’s one prediction I know will come true: Dublin startups will continue to amaze, innovate and disrupt like never before. Our best days are truly ahead! We cannot wait!

What are you hoping to see in 2018? Let us know!

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