A few days ago, Brian Burke, Gartner research vice president, presented the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020. This is one of the highlights of the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, highly anticipated by all attendees, as well as the rest of the technology community. As defined by Gartner, a strategic technology trend is “one with substantial disruptive potential that is beginning to break out of an emerging state into broader impact and use, or which is rapidly growing with a high degree of volatility reaching tipping points over the next five years.”
Considered one of the most important events in the technology market, Gartner ITxpo delivers content with the authority and weight of the world's leading IT research and advisory organizations, and provides access to the latest solutions from key technology providers. Stefanini has a very strong presence this year, participating in several speaking sessions where we presented successful customer cases with DeVry University, Toyota, and Yara International. We covered topics such as human-centric approaches to AI, automation, and disruption in technology transformation.
Gartner’s 10 trends are based on the notion of “people-centric smart spaces,” in other words, taking into consideration technology’s impact on people in their everyday lives.
“These trends have a profound impact on the people and the spaces they inhabit,” said Burke. “Rather than building a technology stack and then exploring the potential applications, organizations must consider the business and human context first.”
According to David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, “people-centric smart spaces are the structure used to organize and evaluate the primary impact of the Gartner top strategic technology trends for 2020. Putting people at the center of your technology strategy highlights one of the most important aspects of technology — how it impacts customers, employees, business partners, society or other key constituencies. Arguably, all actions of the organization can be attributed to how it impacts these individuals and groups either directly or indirectly. This is a people-centric approach.”
Here are the top 10 strategic technology trends that Gartner predicts for 2020:
By now, we’re probably all familiar with the term automation, which is generally defined as the process of automating tasks with the use of robots, with little to no human operation. This type of advanced technology improves overall efficiency while streamlining processes in the manufacturing plant, optimizing productivity and profitability. Hyperautomation applies artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate processes at an increased rate. Hyperautomation is very sophisticated with abilities to discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor, and reassess. It also involves robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent business management software (iBPMS) and AI tools.
This trend is all about people-literate technology, emphasizing the immersive experience that consists of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), multichannel human-machine interfaces, and sensing technologies. Essentially, computers will be able to communicate with users via multisensory and multitouchpoint interfaces (e.g., wearables and advanced computer sensors). According to Cearley, “the burden of translating intent will move from the user to the computer. This ability to communicate with users across many human senses will provide a richer environment for delivering nuanced information.”
Democratization refers to technical and business expertise that is widely accessible to people, but without the hefty cost and long hours of training. For example, “citizen access” has resulted in an increased number of citizen data scientists, citizen integrators, and evolving citizen development. Gartner expects the democratization of four key areas through the year 2023: application development, data and analytics, design, and knowledge.
Human augmentation refers to the use of technology to improve the cognitive and physical experiences of humans. According to Gartner, physical augmentation alters the person’s inherent physical capability by implanting or hosting a technology within their bodies, and falls into four categories: sensory augmentation (hearing, vision, perception), appendage and biological function augmentation (exoskeletons, prosthetics), brain augmentation (implants to treat seizures) and genetic augmentation (somatic gene and cell therapy). Cognitive augmentation improves the human thought and decision-making process, and carries technological elements of the brain augmentation category “as they are physical implants that deal with cognitive reasoning.”
The more knowledge consumers gain regarding how their data is being used, the higher the liability is for organizations when it comes to gathering and storing it. According to Gartner, “transparency and traceability refer to a range of attitudes, actions and supporting technologies and practices designed to address regulatory requirements, preserve an ethical approach to use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, and repair the growing lack of trust in companies.” With an emphasis on trust, there are six elements to note: ethics, integrity, openness, accountability, competence and consistency.
According to Gartner, “edge computing is a topology where information processing and content collection and delivery are placed closer to the sources of the information, with the idea that keeping traffic local and distributed will reduce latency.” Empowered edge aims to bring key applications and services closer to people and devices by examining how IoT devices are laying the foundation for smart spaces.
7. Distributed Cloud
A distributed cloud distributes public cloud services to external locations, but the original provider is still responsible for cloud service architecture, delivery, operations and updates. Gartner points out “the evolution from centralized public cloud to distributed public cloud” and the rise of a new era in cloud computing. With the distributed cloud, data centers can be located anywhere, eliminating challenges related to latency and data sovereignty. It’s also important to note the added benefits of a public cloud service as well as a private, local cloud.
8. Autonomous Things
With AI already changing the world by increasing productivity in the workplace, transforming how we perform our day-to-day tasks, we can expect the technology to gain more popularity in 2020. In recent years, we have seen robots, drones, appliances and other types of autonomous things perform tasks that would normally be performed by humans. But we may see autonomous things evolve from stand-alone to collaboration on a large scale, which may or may not involve human operation.
Cearley gives an example: “heterogeneous robots can operate in a coordinated assembly process. In the delivery market, the most effective solution may be to use an autonomous vehicle to move packages to the target area. Robots and drones aboard the vehicle could then affect final delivery of the package.”
9. Practical Blockchain
In a nutshell, blockchain is a series of blocks linked together in a chain, with each one storing records of economic transactions. With blockchain, people can make transactions globally without any reliance on a central authority. Furthermore, blockchain mitigates the risk of identity theft during transactions with its independent verification over a network of nodes responsible for validating transactions in each block. This technology is quite promising when it comes to trust, transparency, reducing costs, improving business ecosystems, and the way industries operate.
Blockchain can trace assets back to its origins, lowering the chances of them being substituted with counterfeit goods. Other benefits of asset tracking include identity management, as well as tracing contaminated food back to the supplier.
According to Gartner, there are five key elements of the blockchain model: “a shared and distributed ledger, immutable and traceable ledger, encryption, tokenization and a distributed public consensus mechanism.” But with blockchain still in its infancy stages, enterprises face some technical challenges, including poor scalability and interoperability, according to Cearley. But its potential for success is enough for companies to delve into the technology, even if they don’t adopt it right away.
10. AI Security
With advanced technologies always comes heightened security risks. Security teams in the business world must be armed with knowledge regarding AI technologies, and how they affect security. According to Gartner, security leaders must focus on three major aspects: “protecting AI-powered systems, leveraging AI to enhance security defense, and anticipating nefarious use of AI by attackers.”
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