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A Breakdown of Gartner’s 2019 Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends

Kendra Luciano Managing Editor, Content Marketing Published 29 Sep 2020

The true objective of digital transformation is for organizations to update business models on a continual basis using technology as an enabler. Technology continues to intensify change, and decision-makers have to adopt a mindset of innovation that embraces ongoing change. This paradigm can be referred to as “continuous next;” a strategy for succeeding in a constantly changing world. This blog breaks down the top ten strategic technology trends as described in the Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019 report.

Gartner’s Key Findings:

  • Strategic technology trends have significant potential to create and respond to disruption and to power both transformation and optimization initiatives.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is a foundational catalyst for advanced process automation and human augmentation and engagement.
  • Physical environments including factories, offices, and cities will become “smart spaces” within which people will interact through multiple touchpoints and sensory channels for an increasingly ambient experience.
  • Dealing with privacy, digital ethics and security challenges generated by AI, the Internet of Things (IoT)/edge, and other evolving technologies will become critical to maintain trust and avoid legal entanglements.

“Strategic technology trends have the potential both to create opportunity and to drive significant disruption. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must evaluate these top trends to determine how combinations of trends can power their innovation strategies.”

-Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019


Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends for the Year Summarized

  1. Autonomous Things

Prediction: By 2021, 10% of new vehicles will have autonomous driving capabilities, compared with less than 1% in 2018.

Now is the opportune time for enterprises to explore how AI-driven autonomous capabilities can power physical devices within the business and customer environments. However, it’s important to recognize that autonomous things bring many innovative capabilities, the human brain cannot be matched in terms of intelligence breadth and dynamic general purpose learning.

Build business cases and customer journey plots to determine which AI-driven opportunities could possibly deliver positive business outcomes.

  1. Augmented Analytics

Prediction: Through 2020, the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of expert data scientists.

It’s likely that augmented analytics capabilities will progress through the Hype Cycle to mainstream rather quickly. These capabilities will be key to data preparation, data management, modern analytics, business process management, process mining, and data science platforms. Further, automated insights from augmented analytics will be embedded in applications.

At present, there remains a data science and machine learning skills gap. A general shortage coupled with high costs for hiring talent are an obstacle. However, citizen data science is an alternative to expert data science. It’s an emerging practice area that allows users who aren’t specialized in statistics and analytics to extract predictive and prescriptive insights from data.

This is a great time to make augmented analytics part of the overall digital transformation strategy to facilitate advanced insights to a wider range of users.

  1. AI-Driven Development

Prediction: According to Gartner, “By 2022, at least 40% of new application development projects will have artificial intelligence co-developers on the team.” 

The AI-driven development trend is focused on the evolution of tools, technologies and best practices for embedding AI capabilities into applications. It’s evolving in three key ways:

  • AI tools are diversifying to target developers, focusing more on platforms and services.
  • AI-powered solutions now include AI-driven capabilities that can help developers with automating their work tasks
  • AI-enabled tools are becoming more focused on business-domain expertise and automating tasks that are higher on the AD process stack
  1. Digital Twins

Prediction: By 2021, half of the large industrial companies will use digital twins, resulting in a 10% improvement in effectiveness for those organizations.

“A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. The implementation of a digital twin is an encapsulated software object or model that mirrors a unique physical object.”

-Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019

IoT is the focus area that seems to generate the most interest for digital twins. Properly executed digital twins of these assets have the potential to improve decision making considerably. They’re linked to tangible counterparts to understand the state of the actual thing or system, and can respond to changes, improve operations, and add value.

  1. Empowered Edge

 Prediction: According to Gartner, “Through 2028, we expect a steady increase in the embedding of sensor, storage, compute and advanced AI capabilities in edge devices”.

The continued focus on edge computing is mostly due to the need for IoT systems to deliver capabilities for specific industries, namely, manufacturing and retail. However, widespread application of the topology and explicit application and networking architectures aren’t yet common. There is work to be done with edge computing in order to effectively solve for the high costs of WAN and latency. To do this, systems and networking management platforms have to stretch to encompass edge locations and edge-function-specific technologies.

  1. Immersive Experience

Prediction: According to Gartner, “By 2022, 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies for consumer and enterprise use, and 25% will have deployed them to production.”           

Over the next 10 years, the user experience is going to change significantly in terms of how users perceive and engage with the digital world. Conversational platforms are contributing to interaction changes, while virtual, augmented, and mixed reality is changing the nature of engagement. Together, these changes add up to the immersive user experience of the future.

“The model will shift from one of technology-literate people to one of people-literate technology. The burden of translating intent will move from the user to the computer. The ability to communicate with users across many human senses will provide a richer environment for delivering nuanced information.”

-Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019

  1. Blockchain

Prediction: By 2030, blockchain will create $3.1 trillion in business value.

Blockchain refers to the wide range of distributed ledger products that currently comprise over 70 offerings in the marketplace.

It certainly has the potential to impact industries by offering a new way to enable trust, transparency, and reduced friction across ecosystems. This could ultimately result in lower costs, shorter transaction settlement times, and better cash flow. Blockchain also has a great deal of potential in the identity management arena.

  1. Smart Spaces

Prediction: By 2022, more than 50% of all people collaborating in Industry 4.0 ecosystems will use virtual assistants or intelligent agents to interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people.

The smart space trend has been expanding in particular around connected factories, smart homes, digital workplaces, and smart cities. It seems that the market is beginning a period of accelerated delivery of robust smart spaces as technology continues to become more integral to daily life.

  1. Digital Ethics and Privacy

Prediction: By 2021, organizations that bypass privacy requirements and are caught lacking in privacy protection will pay 100% more in compliance costs than competitors that adhere to best practices. 

“Digital ethics and privacy are growing concerns for individuals, organizations and governments.

Consumers are increasingly aware their personal information is valuable and are demanding control.

Organizations recognize the increasing risk of securing and managing personal data, and governments are implementing strict legislation to ensure they do.”

-Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019

10. Quantum Computing

Prediction: By 2023, 20% of organizations will be budgeting for quantum computing projects, compared to less than 1% in 2018.

While quantum computing is still in the early stages of development, its power has the potential to transform industries when concentrated into a commercially available, economical, and reliable product or service. Here are the top three factors driving interest in QC:

  • The threat of QC to cryptography
  • Potential capabilities of QC and time frames for specific applications
  • QC’s potential use as a competitive advantage

What Innovation Leaders Need to Be Focusing on Most

Knowing what’s to come in today’s multifaceted, digital landscape, innovation leaders who are steering business transformation need to drill down on three key focus areas in order to stay ahead. First, leadership needs to figure out how physical devices, whether within organizational or customer environments, can be powered by AI-driven, autonomous capabilities. Second, it’s critical to educate senior leadership about strategically relevant opportunities to use AI for automating or augmenting human activities. Finally, work on developing and deploying platforms for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality focused on creating an immersive user experience.

Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020, 21 October 2019, David Cearley, Nick Jones, David Smith, Brian Burke, Arun Chandrasekaran, CK Lu

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