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Opinion Software leaders pick these three technologies as top investments

  • March 05 2018, 6:30am EST

Seven years ago, Marc Andreessen proclaimed “software is eating the world,” a theory that has become more evident in each year that passes.

Companies that have been slower to invest in technology solutions have either prioritized changing their business model or have felt the negative, if not fatal, repercussions of not doing so. Regardless of industry, staying ahead of the technological curve in today’s software-centric world is a must for business success.

However, it can be difficult for even the most experienced IT leaders to wade through the long list of technology buzzwords and solutions that promise to be the “next best things.” So how can businesses cut through the noise to determine what will actually bring business value? They can start by determining the technologies the experts are actually pursuing.

To find out what these tech trends are, O’Reilly analyzed search data from more than two million users on its online learning platform, most of which are trained software and technology leaders. By taking into consideration what these professionals are focusing on, other professionals can begin to determine what their companies should be investing time and money in.

Here are three of the trends the search data found:

Artificial Intelligence

It’s no surprise that terms related to AI generated a high amount of interest, especially as we’ve seen a spike in the use of AI in consumer technologies, from smart home devices to self-driving vehicles. However, the top search terms suggest that AI also has the potential for larger business impact.

The search results for two of AI’s most business-applicable functions, “deep learning” and “machine learning,” grew by 60 percent and 42 percent, respectively. One of the most obvious trends is a shift from ambition to action, as searches for AI-related tools increased, including AI programming library “TensorFlow” (146 percent growth in activity), as well as data analytics tools “Kafka” (32 percent growth in activity) and “Spark” (seventh most popular search term overall).

Additionally, the number one search term throughout the platform was “Python,” a provider of robust libraries for statistics and data manipulation, showing that open source technologies are taking the lead over proprietary tools in the AI domain.

Cloud computing

Cloud providers and tools also dominated the list of top searches. “AWS,” Amazon’s cloud services platform, was the fourth most searched term overall. Also popular were “Kubernetes” (98 percent growth in activity) and “Docker” (third overall search term), tools that facilitate running programs in the cloud in containers.

The twenty-fourth most popular term was “microservices,” a computer architecture notably designed for cloud use. All of this suggests that this year, professionals are realizing that the cloud needs to be developed, deployed and managed.


Not only is blockchain making headlines, but it’s a top-ranking search term on O’Reilly’s platform, experiencing 107 percent growth over the last year.

Blockchain is a digital ledger technology that records transactions made in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and its leap in interest is most likely because of its much-needed offering to record transactions securely. If either party in a transaction wants to repudiate it, anyone with access to the blockchain can prove that the party agreed to the transactions, offering legal and security guarantees to any industry that adopts it. In the era of increased online business activity, the security blockchain brings makes it a must-learn for tech professionals.

Something’s Missing…

There are a few topics you might expect to see ranking among the top searched areas of the platform which are notably absent, including security, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and the internet of things (IoT). “VR/AR” and “IoT” might not show up due to their larger hardware component. However, “security,” a topic all-too-often discussed as being of top importance across industries, was only the forty-seventh most popular search term, with “hacking” coming in the one hundred and twenth-seventh spot – a concerning concept in the wake of last year’s record-breaking number of data breaches.

Also absent were several core programming databases such as Oracle, SQL Server and NoSQL, showing that maintaining data storage technologies is of less interest than learning how to collect, extract and process the data.

What Tech Execs Should Be Paying More Attention to in 2018

Technology professionals across industries should be paying more attention to the business uses of AI, the cloud and blockchain, if they aren’t already. Additionally, despite ranking lower in searches, businesses shouldn’t forget about security, given the destructive business impacts of data breaches that plagued companies in 2017.

By gaining insight into the technologies and skills other IT leaders and software developers are prioritizing, tech pros can wade through the buzzwords to determine what their companies need to invest in now – before they get left behind.

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