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Top IT and engineering trends that contractors should know in 2018

Ample evidence exists to prove that the fields of IT and engineering hold considerable sway over the economy, both in the U.S. and worldwide. Experienced IT professionals are now needed in other industries that never required them in past decades, in both major and tangential roles. This bodes well for contract workers in IT, who can take advantage of high demand from employers, while establishing strong reputations for themselves through high-profile work.

During the past several years, various trends have shaped the development of corporate IT, as well as network and software engineering in this space. Cloud computing, the internet of things and the now-ubiquitous presence of mobile devices are just a few of these. Experts have already begun projecting which factors will dictate the tempo of tech in 2018, making it critical for contractors, recruiters and employers to learn all they can about them to get ahead of the curve.

1. AI growing more prominent
While the development of artificial intelligence remains far away from the robots envisioned by science fiction writers and filmmakers, AI as a business process appears poised to almost become the norm for many businesses. According to recent research conducted by Gartner, 41 percent of organizations surveyed are actively engaged in AI pilot programs, while the remainder have at least kick-started the process of creating an AI strategy. Those seeking IT positions in high-echelon businesses, as well as recruiters looking to find such employees, must not disregard AI’s importance.

2. The mainstreaming of augmented reality
Augmented reality technologies are widely projected to find their way into settings more frequently experienced in our everyday lives. The Motley Fool reported that mobile software developers will begin including AR functionality in more of their apps for enhanced interactivity. As one example, manufacturers can conduct product demos that simulate how an item will perform in different environments, and in the near future, consumers may be able to as well. IT contractors should be prepared for jobs that use AR to some degree.

3. New applications will be found for blockchain
Best known as the algorithm encryption used in Bitcoin cryptocurrency transactions, many view blockchain with a combination of excitement and suspicion – the latter stemming from concerns regarding its effectiveness. In a piece for Forbes, fintech consultant Dr. Jemma Green compared this opinion to the view many had of the first steam engines upon their invention in the 19th century.

Many predicted uses for blockchain fall under the category of financial services. But according to Business Insider, various other fields could adopt it, including healthcare, supply chain management, energy, cybersecurity and government. As a more specific example, consider voting, which could be turned into a more private and secure process using blockchain encryption. These algorithms will be nothing short of essential knowledge for prospective IT and engineering contractors, and recruiters.

4. Digital collaboration in the workplace
Those at managerial levels and within the C-suite of most modern businesses consistently want to increase the pace and efficiency of their operations without sacrificing productivity. Because the enhancement of communication methods can facilitate such improvements, Information Age noted that multichannel platforms will surge in popularity in 2018.

In light of the increasing frequency with which employees work remotely or handle assignments while on the road, solutions that allow seamless integration and file-sharing across voice, video and instant messaging channels will assume vast importance. Software-defined networking also will play a prominent role in the enhancement of digital collaboration. IT and engineering contractors can get a leg up by familiarizing themselves with the most high-end communications software.