As we get ready to close the books on 2017, it’s time to look ahead to  new ways of working in 2018.

Today, we offer a collection of predictions from visionaries across many different disciplines of Citrix. As the predictions came in, an overarching theme emerged: The concept of how we work is changing dramatically and is largely driven by the move to hybrid cloud, the growth of IoT and AI, and ever-changing security threats.

Though the industry agrees overwhelmingly that the move to the cloud is the necessary next step to enabling flexible, collaborative ways of working, IT adoption of cloud creeped along much more slowly than expected in 2017. IT leaders struggled with non-technical issues, such as the move to SaaS driving spending as OpEx vs. CapEx, securing buy-in from business unit leaders, and more. The drive in 2018 will continue to push this move toward flexible workspaces ahead.

In fact, a recent Citrix-commissioned survey proved the industry’s interest in the path to the cloud in 2018:

  • 75% of office professionals believe that in five years, businesses with a flexible work environment will not be competitive without using cloud-based apps
  • 57% of office professionals at companies with a flexible work environment are currently using cloud-based apps
  • 50% of office professionals who do not have a flexible work environment believe that their company would have one if they had the technological capabilities to accommodate it
  • 2 in 5 office professionals would turn down a job opportunity if the company did not have a flexible work environment
  • 1 in 5 employees collaborate virtually, such as through web-based apps and platforms
  • 50% of office professionals who work in flexible work environments note that it has increased productivity

So, while the perspectives of our leaders here at Citrix vary, one commonality holds among them all: the move to the cloud will continue to drive the majority of change in 2018. Read on for predictions on exactly how from our leading thinkers:

PJ Hough
SVP, Chief Product Officer at Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018? 

Hybrid cloud. There is a real convergence happening right now across technologies to bring together the best possible work environments using the cloud. Hybrid cloud technology unifies all the applications from all the platforms, whether they happen to be enterprise or on-premises applications, cloud applications or mobile applications and delivers them in a consistent way across any device. Companies no longer need to even own the applications, they just have to subscribe to an application that someone else is delivering. As things move to the cloud, people have a higher expectation that things will just work, that services will always available and will always help them get things done quickly. There’s an expectation that every app is simply going to work, whether they’re on the beach, in a plane, or staying at a hotel. So, as rapidly as technology is innovating to create the future of work with the cloud, there’s a hungry audience who can see that vision and understand that a hybrid model will get them there the fastest.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?   

It will provide greater mobilityThe cloud is giving people the mobility they want in a job today, while giving IT the security controls they need. Work is becoming increasingly more location independent. More people today are succeeding in careers that allow them the freedom to move in time and location, and still contribute greatly to their work. Secure cloud technology will simplify mobility of people moving not just between locations but between projects and allowing them to bring skills from one part of the company to the other.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018? 

The cloud will continue to be the biggest driver of change in 2018. The challenge that many organizations face today is the pace at which they can absorb and integrate technology. And this is why you see people doing things like move to the cloud or move to an application delivery platform or move to a more open device management policy, because it allows those parts of their business to move at the speed of the cloud, the speed of mobility, the speed of applications — not at their speed. IT teams are well aware that shifting to the cloud is the next big move to make, and I am certain we will see even greater cloud adoption in 2018 than we have this year.

Christian Reilly
Vice President, Global Product and Tech Strategy, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

The impact of voice as the next generation human-computer interface will absolutely be a key innovation moving forward in 2018. This will be more impactful than virtual, augmented, or mixed reality. Being able to use voice, combined with machine learning, to interact with complex data will be a huge benefit to everybody.

Increasingly, machine learning algorithms allow computers to meet humans halfway to try to figure out what we’re saying or asking just as another person would. If you’ve ever asked a question of Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, or Samsung Bixby, you’ve experienced the early stages of a profound transformation. It will ultimately mean the end of the keyboard and mouse, making workers in the digital business highly productive.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

Analytics tools are going to allow people to work more productively in 2018. When it comes to user experience, companies need to use powerful analytics tools to ensure that the secure digital workspace provides the end-user with the best possible experience for the device and network they are using.

For security, you can think about analytics as a form of artificial intelligence, which builds up a picture of a user’s normal behavior and then looks for anomalies and applies security controls at the point of those transactions. It becomes a look forward using AI to understand what is happening in almost real time, in a way that deals with it in terms of the single user, connection and device. That is incredibly powerful.

Hot on the heels of user experience and security analytics will be productivity analytics — this is the key to the contextual delivery of information to help drive productivity. Imagine a scenario where AI helps contextualize what it is you do every day and from where — then surfaces that information inside your secure digital workspace, so you spend less time looking for data and more time acting on the information.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

Hybrid Cloud. The puritan debate around public cloud vs. private cloud has raged for almost a decade, yet the smart money says that the hybrid or multi-cloud model is going to be the most dominant in the foreseeable future. Many of the savviest organizations are systematically figuring out which workloads to leave on premises or move to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS). The hybrid approach of creating the on-premises versus public cloud and creating networks that are flexible and secure enough to deal with the different types of connectivity. We’re on the way to addressing that, both as an industry and also at Citrix. 

Stan Black
Chief Security Information Officer, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

Companies need to be careful about adding complexity in 2018. Heavily-regulated companies take more risks to be more competitive. Companies are now more dependent on cloud and application providers that they haven’t vetted with due diligence. These providers may often have sloppy code with fewer protections than they have historically had.

Many companies or even industries are trying to accelerate pace of change and forego appropriate security protocols; turning to new tech providers that historically have had less protections or haven’t lived up to strict scrutiny or testing.

Bypassing concerns about trust to keep or gain competitive advantage – “there’s an app for that” mentality.

How do you think security technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

Consumerization will change the workplace experience. In 2018, trust and shadow IT will continue to be huge issues across industries. If companies and providers can improve the experience, so users don’t have to go around IT-sanctioned technology, we’ll see people working more securely — by choice.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

The analytics term is getting thrown around a lot, but businesses need to be careful about implementing technologies without a strategy for their use. The goal is to remove complexity, not add another layer. Analytics has the potential to be the next generation of failed filters — analytics technology tells you there is a problem, but doesn’t solve that problem.

From a business and a security perspective, there needs to be a strategy for problem solving on top of problem identification. Understanding that distinction will be key for businesses who want to move to a proactive security model and stay ahead of the threat landscape.

Christian Boucher
Healthcare Evangelist, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

Cloud is becoming more and more topical within my conversations with healthcare leaders around the globe. CIOs and CTOs are becoming more comfortable with the idea of leveraging cloud-based resources to augment, and in some cases, displace on-premises infrastructure and services. As cloud technology has matured, and taken steps to ensure compliance with HIPAA/GDPR regulations, organizations are examining ways they can leverage the technology.

With the rapid pace of OS, core application and infrastructure upgrades organizations are experiencing, keeping the lights on per se is straining IT resources to the breaking point, and execs are looking for ways to leverage their teams in a more productive manner, allowing them to focus on innovating instead of administrating.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in the healthcare industry in 2018 and beyond?

I believe key advancements in analytics and AI will play a major role within Healthcare, not just within patient population tools, but also in optimizing workflows both within in-patient and out-patient scenarios. The age of EHR deployments are now pushing organizations to revise, enhance, and develop new processes within the care continuum. AI/ analytics will allow organizations to better understand the patient/caregiver/practitioners needs, and allow them to customize experiences for each of them, allowing for increased productivity, improved care delivery, and enhanced patient experience. These will, essentially, change the way they work, treat patients, and receive care within the healthcare environment.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

I believe Blockchain can and will play a major role within healthcare. The technology is primed for use cases around patient record portability, a key measure within the HIPAA regulations. The problem standing in the way is consensus. You have governmental requirements, disparate vendor standards and technologies, as well as competing strategies on how it should be constructed. All of this will contribute to this being a long-term development process/transition, albeit an intriguing one.

Steve Shah
Vice President of Product Management, Networking, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

2018 will be the year of the anti-innovation – the boring cloud technologies that we’ve had for a while are hitting a critical inflection in the maturity curve where our ability to consume them and the cloud’s ability to make them work well are finally coming together. Thus, the hybrid-multi-cloud will become the reality for a lot of enterprises that want to move towards shifting select workloads to where it is cheapest to run while keeping special applications on-premises under the same management framework.

How will technology change the way people work in 2018?

As cloud comes to building management systems, the ability to cost effectively leverage IoT to improve the quality of the workplace will become real. We’re learning all kinds of new things about how everything from the quality of the air we breathe inside the office impacts our cognitive function to the way that we run meetings and use conference rooms.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

Face recognition as a form of biometric identity will become a talking point as initial offerings from consumer technology haven’t worked as well as was hoped. This will lead to a broader discussion around biometrics as a form of identity and which biometrics are acceptable and which are not. This will particularly become a hot topic as the broad availability of fingerprint scanners and cloud APIs from Microsoft and Google have made biometrics as a second-factor in multi-factor authentication the new normal.

Amy Haworth
Director, Organizational Readiness (a.k.a. Workspace Redesign Guru), Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

In this age of digital transformation, continuous IT-enabled innovation is essential. Yet many companies overlook the inherent behavioral change to employees that goes along with new technology adoption. In 2018, for companies to make the most of the frequent waves of technology innovation, I believe they will have to commit to designing strong change management principals into their technology adoption plans. For digital transformation to deliver value, an entire organization needs to buy into new ways not just of working, but also of thinking.

How do you think workspace redesign technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

With change as a constant and the need to produce outcomes quickly, the way changes are rolled out to employees is evolving toward a more inclusive approach. A workplace redesign transformation creates many questions for employees: “Where will we keep our stuff,” “How will I find people in an unassigned environment?”, “What about germs?”

Rather than a leadership team providing answers to everything, success comes more quickly when employees are invited to help develop the answers. An inclusive approach creates personal change ownership of those answers from the beginning and employees feel change is done ‘by’ us rather than ‘to’ us. It also creates and environment that signals leaders aren’t all-knowing and all-powerful. At its core, workplace redesign brings down the walls, encourages collaboration, and highlights contribution — but you don’t have to wait until the physical space is move-in ready to instill those values. The culture change begins with your change approach.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

IoT has huge potential for the workplace. Smart companies like Hermann Miller and Steelcase are using a design thinking approach to innovate and truly deliver products that are making the most of the potential for IoT. While I don’t think we’re likely to see these types of innovations at scale in 2018, my hope is that we all take a customer-centric approach and think about how IoT can make us more efficient, more delighted, more effective in our day. By 2019, I think we will really see these innovations take off!

Steve Wilson
Vice President, Cloud and IoT, Citrix

What do you think will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

In the near future, people are going to have a very different set of devices to access work on a daily basis. It was just a few years ago where the only questions people were asked when they showed up to their first day on a new job was whether they wanted a PC or a Mac. Today, people demand to work from the device and location of their choice. There’s also an increasing number of IoT devices, such as the inexpensive Raspberry Pis that cost less than $100 — that can do everything that a PC used to do. For example, with a Raspberry Pi integrated with Citrix technology, an employee can sit down, hook up a keyboard and a mouse with a monitor to it and use it as their computer. They can also use it as an embedded device, hide it under their desk and attach it to speech recognition, voice recognition, virtual reality or augmented reality.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

IoT will move from being seen as a massive security risk in the Enterprise, to a critical part of an Enterprise’s security posture. Concepts, such as Bluetooth beacon technologies, GPS, biometrics, facial recognition, and pervasive analytics on user behavior will give much greater confidence in a user’s identity, which will lead to greater assurance that people are getting access to the right things.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

Voice/speech shows promise and I feel we’ve reached this inflection point where it’s getting so much better at such a rate that it’s very usable for a set of tasks today. In 2018, we’re going to see it go further as we figure out the applications for it. It’ll be similar to a time, years ago, when people actually preferred DOS because it could do things compactly with a small set of text commands, once we figure out how to talk to something in a natural manner and say, for example, “rename all the files that start with the letter Q,” then that action is automated — that is going to become tremendously powerful. A combination of some of those AI technologies wrapped around voice will be really big. Another example are startups now that now only specialize in building bots, which are not physical robots but chatbots; you can put voice in front of that or type commands or text messages to it. Imagine how transformative it will be when natural language interaction is added in, whether it’s typing or talking!

Trenton Cycholl
Vice President, Business Technology Solutions, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

2018 will be a year where security will become part of the fabric in how we work. Contextual access and voice recognition will enable security to be part of the productivity solution and remove barriers that have previously made security a blocker to getting work done. Security technologies will focus on user-centric design and become smarter recognizing identity in more automated methods through machine learning and artificial intelligence.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

Cloud technologies will continue maturation in 2018. Enterprises will gain value from cloud as a delivery platform with edge computing or end-points becoming smarter and more connected. Intelligence and computing power at the end-points will drive cloud leverage as technology becomes more part of how we live and operate. Initially, hybrid delivery and infrastructure in the enterprise will lead to further cloud adoption beyond 2018.

Jeroen van Rotterdam
SVP, Engineering, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

2018 will be year where we see the death of the password. A wide variety of authentication methods will be introduced that will replace passwords including biometrics , behaviour analytics, and the like. The amount of security breaches will accelerate to record heights which will force companies to abandon traditional passwords as a way to protect accounts

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

Machine learning with brute force compute will offer a wide variety of creative solutions that couldn’t be done by humans. Creators will focus on the what, not the how.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

Hackers will see great successes in 2018 with the way the internet is used. Access to web pages and apps will become much more controlled to protect end users which will limit the viral nature of the web as we know it today. Dark web concepts will be adopted by web apps to limit exposure.

Chalan Aras
Vice President & General Manager, NetScaler SD-WAN, Citrix 

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

Enterprise workload transformation to cloud will be a key innovation in 2018. Enterprises have been steadily moving their B2C and web properties to the cloud. In 2018, we expect to see the mainstreaming of internal, employee-facing app migrations to the cloud in order to build hybrid deployments. This will drive a new wave of SD-WAN adoption to connect directly from places of business to the cloud.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond? Here it is! UCaaS is king; SD-WAN to the rescue.

As more communications move to the cloud, enterprises will recognize the need to have a robust network, with end-to-end visibility from the cloud down to the users. This year, we will see SD-WAN and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) be spoken in the same sentence.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018? SD-WAN = Secure Delivery: Security and enterprise networking have been kept at arm’s length for a long time. It’s about time for this to change. We will start seeing security to be built into the SD-WAN services, with an integrated, perimeter solution that manages robust delivery and security from a single point of control.

Dave Pecoraro
Chief Information Officer, Citrix Customer SCL Health & 2017 Citrix Innovation Award Winner

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

Analytics. We are heavily investing in the area of analytics, and frankly it’s the area I’m most excited about.  I think it’s the wave of the future in personalized medicine. Our hope is to move that beyond traditional reporting into predictive, prescriptive machine learning so we can begin predicting events in the organization. Events such as safety and quality, and even medications.  

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

Creating simpler tech set up in patient rooms has been, and will continue to be, the primary driver of changing the way clinicians work in hospitals. Two years ago, the biggest complaint I received from clinicians was that there were too many log ons between Epic and all the other software systems. CPC+, meaningful use and other regulatory demands are putting so much demand on clinicians’ time now. We developed a simple set up in the patient rooms that is powered by Citrix Cloud which includes a monitor, Raspberry Pi interface and a keyboard. This setup makes login much easier and also reduces the cost per nursing station. Every clinician now has an individual persona on their desktop which is coupled with their Imprivata single sign on so they tap and go. This customized view has contributed greatly to clinician productivity more than any other initiative we’ve instituted. Clinicians can now go from a room to a room, station to station so quickly because the tap and go instantly brings up their persona on the workstation. As more and more healthcare institutions adopt similar cloud solutions, it will continue to change the way people work across the healthcare industry.

What tech advancement do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

Native language processing. We had an event during which the e-scription service that doctors use went down across the country. A lot of our doctors used native voice recognition software as a result and ended up liking it quite a bit. Now, months later, doctors have switched over to dictating right into the record. At SCL Health, we are looking at integrating more of our voice recognition technologies that have a natural language processing, which allows us to get some unstructured data into the process. I foresee this being a big driver of change in 2018.

Chris Matthieu
Director, IoT Engineering, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence tools and platforms are getting easier to use and are thus becoming more pervasive. The cloud’s current computing resources will be important for initially training these algorithms. Both of these technologies will have a huge impact on the future of work and security. Machines will be able to learn what’s normal and what’s not normal to predict and enable future automations or shutdown bad-actors in security use cases.

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have become daily casual topics. While these technologies are related, we will see very different use cases for them start to evolve this year. We may even start to see decentralized and distributed companies start to rise. Little to no infrastructure will allow these companies to disrupt even modern cloud-based giants of today.

The demand for Edge computing will also start swelling this year. As more devices get connected to the internet, the tolerance for latency will become less acceptable. The cloud was designed for massive downloads, not uploads. Sensors will come to rely on edge computing to learn normal conditions and react to abnormal conditions without streaming everything to the cloud for machine learning. This will have a huge impact on the future of work and security.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

IoT will no longer be a “buzz word” or new technology over the next 12-18 months. It will be a given that all devices will automatically connect to the internet. Competition will drive the race to fully automated IoT business processes with just-in-time replenishment and auto-scaling services. There will be a number of IoT startups focusing on Citrix-like Smart Spaces technologies. Devices will automatically detect people and profiles and play a role in contextual automation in every location (work, home, coffee shop, etc.). These new solutions will include and/or merge with autonomous vehicles, machine learning, edge computing technologies.

Autonomous vehicles will continue to disrupt markets in human transportation, agriculture, logistics, etc. These vehicles are becoming mobile (edge) data centers on wheels processing tera/petabytes worth of sensor data to react in real-time to surrounding conditions. Work has become a verb — not a noun. People will work whenever and wherever they need/want to work. Autonomous deliveries and commuters are already becoming normal sights near Arizona State University where Uber, Waymo, and GM have driverless vehicles lapping the campus.

What tech advancement do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality will continue to gain tremendous buzz next year. AR is already being used in the future of work related to construction, on-site repair technicians, etc. This technology will continue to get smaller and more powerful thus more pervasive and mesh with autonomous vehicles, machine learning, edge computing technologies. We will see a lot of AR tech in 2018 and VR tech in 2019.

The next logical evolution for IoT companies will be in robotics. We will begin to start seeing more special purpose robots enter the market in 2019. Roomba will be what everyone compares them to, i.e., Roomba for your BBQ grill, lawn, car wash, etc. 

Donna Kimmel
SVP & Chief People Officer, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

Technology that makes it easier and easier for employees to work securely will be the biggest area of innovation in 2018. People can actually be one of our greatest security vulnerabilities, particularly with the influx of Millinneals entering the workplace. A recent global study by Citrix and the Ponemon Institute found that Millinneals are more than twice as likely as baby boomers to use unapproved apps and devices. And on the flip side, Baby Boomers are seen as the most susceptible to phishing and social engineering scams. With these stats in mind, I believe that a combination of increasingly simplified security technology combined with constant reinforcement of your security policies and why they matter, from password hygiene and phishing alertness to the perils of a jailbroken smartphone, are crucial. Nobody wants to be the person who brought the company down with an unintended security breach.

How do you think technology will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

In a very real sense, we’re already living the future of work. Citrix secure digital workspace solutions now give us unprecedented freedom to choose the way we experience work and life—to take work from a place we go to something that we do, anywhere and at anytime on any device. Employee expectations have also evolved along this journey. We’re thinking in new ways about the relationship between work and our personal lives. The conversation used to be about work-life balance, but now we’re talking about work-life harmony. I like to picture this as an orchestra. All the different elements of our lives (i.e. partners, pets, home, work, etc.) each representing a different instrument and we are the conductors of our lives creating a melody that works. With Citrix solutions, it’s easier than ever to strike the right chord because employees don’t have to be tethered to a desk.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

I think AI will continue to move forward in innovative and useful ways that will take society to an entirely new level of learning. It’s important to point out that AI will not replace the need for human employees, but rather will give us an amazing opportunity to learn new skills and apply more strategic and meaningful actions to new roles. Nothing will ever replace the importance of human creativity, empathy and innovation.

Calvin Hsu
Vice President, Product Marketing, Citrix

What will be the key technology innovation in 2018?

Cloud-based predictive analytics will transform the way employees securely access their apps and data in 2018, enhancing security and driving productivity for enterprises.

How do you think cloud-based predictive analytics will change the way people work in 2018 and beyond?

When it comes to cloud-based predictive analytics, we’re just beginning to see a sliver of its true potential. By combining information on behavior patterns with advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence, we can implement security processes that are invisible to end users, which means they don’t need to do anything extra to comply with security policies while they work. Meanwhile, with the analytics running in the background, we can identify when someone’s access privileges might be compromised, or use virtualized secure browsers to route risky employee behavior into a protective online sandbox to prevent security breaches.

We can also identify where we can streamline workflows and adapt them to individual work habits to make it easier and faster for people to complete their tasks. Analytics can also inform business managers and IT about broader work patterns, and what their employees need to do to efficiently get their work done. With those insights, managers can identify opportunities for improvement, either through coaching or by providing additional tools and services. Even better, analytics can also drive real-time, autonomic recommendations to those employees based on what their peers are doing.

We see a day when we will:

  • Streamline workflows and processes to help employees work faster and more efficiently.
  • Anticipate a disruption in one cloud, giving IT time to re-route apps and services to another cloud to prevent a service failure.
  • Identify when an employee’s identity has been compromised and prevent the theft of sensitive data, malicious activity or other potential cyber-criminal behavior.
  • Shift an employee into a secure browsing environment in the event they accidently click on a dangerous link.

What tech concept do you think has been widely talked about, but will really see success in 2018?

This year, we’ve emphasized how Citrix has become clearly focused on transitioning the entire company to a cloud-first mindset. That’s because that cloud-first model enables us to provide value in ways that simply are not possible with a traditional on-premises deployment of our solutions. (To be clear, I’m talking about the Citrix aspect of the infrastructure – the management control plane. Customers can run their workloads on-premises, in the cloud, or some hybrid of both and still get the advantages of a cloud-based Citrix solution.) 

While a lot of attention focuses on the operational and integration benefits accrued through cloud services, we’re just beginning to see the tremendous potential available by combining the telemetry gained when employees access their apps and data in the cloud.