Technology and transformation now go hand in hand. The words have become synonymous and are used interchangeably. It’s almost like there is a technology assault on our senses and sensibilities. The speed and quantum of evolution is just mind boggling. In this context, how do we demystify technology and make it more human and relevant will always remain a challenge and this in my opinion will be the biggest job of business leaders. The Gartner Technology trends report touches upon multiple aspects that are likely to make a huge impact in 2020. Some of them are:
- Hyper-automation for operations processes:
It is a combination of machine learning, packaged software, and automation tools. As the name suggests, the objective of hyper-automation is simple – to automate anything that can be automated, period. In this context, all organizations are first seeking to automate all their operations processes to free up executive time for doing value generating work. This was initiated in a way by Robotic Process Automation (RPA), but hyper-automation is much more than RPA. It includes the tools & the steps of automation — discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor, and reassess.
- Edge Computing for greater autonomy and hyper localisation:
Edge devices include robots, drones, autonomous vehicles and operational systems. The current focus on Edge Computing comes from IoT systems to deliver disconnected or distributed capabilities into the embedded IoT world for manufacturing or retail organizations currently. However, this will become a dominant force across industries as it gets more and more sophisticated compute resources and data storage. Gartner says that by 2023, 50% of organization-generated data will be created and processed outside of the data centre or cloud, it is currently less than 10%.
- Multi-experience platforms to elevate customer experience:
Conversational platforms like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant have been leading the way here. But there are other interfaces like virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality that will alter the way we converse, communicate and help organization deliver a superlative customer experience. The focus, as it should be, will be on moving from being technology literate to people literate. Capturing the intent of the customer is key and the task of interpreting and translating the intent will move from people to algorithms and machines. It is expected that by 2021, more than 30% of organizations will a multi-experience development platform to support mobile, web, conversational, and augmented reality development.
- ‘Moment’ary Markets:
People live in moments. Organizations’ and Brands’ ability to capture these moments real-time will change the face of customer analytics and advertising in ways we are yet to fully comprehend. Technology trends will align towards more customized and on-demand experiences to fulfil customer needs. This will require businesses to combine real-time analytics with sophisticated back-end systems to gather constantly changing customer behaviour. This will indeed be the Digital Transformation that most organizations are seeking.
- Distributed Cloud for ease of use and compliance:
The Distributed Cloud is now becoming a standard operating procedure (SOP) for most large organizations, given issues such as data residency, where data cannot leave a particular jurisdiction and other compliance issues. A combination of private and public clouds was hard to do for most organizations, but the Distributed Cloud will solve the problem to a great extent. A Distributed Cloud is the distribution of public cloud services to different locations while the originating public cloud provider assumes responsibility for the operation, governance, updates to, and evolution of the services. Gartner predicts that by 2024 most cloud service platforms will provide services that execute at the point of need.
- Human Augmentation through wearable and other devices:
Devices like smart glasses, contact lenses that provide augmented reality (AR) capabilities, RFID implants that give you access to buildings and new POS payment technologies. These are physical augmentations. Then there is cognitive augmentation which is about Machine learning to augment human skills and ensure that humans are trained to become proficient in their respective roles. The augmentation will be complete when the machine asks the human to intervene and take a decision when it is best suited. Gartner predicts that by 2025 more than 40% of organizations will move from designing for humans to architecting humans themselves by adopting human augmentation technologies.
- The advent of DARQ:
Distributed ledger technology like Blockchain, AI, Extended reality, Virtual and Augmented Reality and Quantum computing, is one such future technology trend of 2020 that businesses will have to work on. Due to a range of issues like poor scalability and interoperability Blockchain never really took off or did not deliver to people’s expectations. Some places where Blockchain is delivering results includes payments, settlements, identity management, provenance, and trade finance. Gartner predicts that by 2023, blockchain-inspired technology will support the global movement and tracking of $2 trillion worth of goods and services annually
- Autonomous Things not just cars:
This includes robots, drones, ships, appliances, aircraft. These devices use AI to deliver advanced behaviours that interact with surroundings and people. A shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a host of collaborative intelligent things where a plethora of devices will work together, either independently of people or with human input is expected over the next few years. Gartner forecast that by 2025, 12% of vehicles will have a high level of autonomous driving capability and the same will be true for delivery drones and other robots.
- Trust, Transparency and Traceability:
We live in a trust deficit world. We live in a world of deep fakes, fake news, algorithm biases. We live in a world where the credibility of humans and technology is at an all-time low. So, when an organization is pushing its brand or service, we can well imagine how credible people think it is! There is growing awareness amongst consumers that their personal information is valuable and is at a risk of being misused. Organizations are also recognizing the risk of securing and managing personal data, and of course governments in Europe and US have implemented legislation and India is on its way in 2020. According to Gartner by 2023 more than 75% of large organizations will hire artificial intelligence specialists in behaviour forensics, privacy, and customer trust to reduce brand reputation risk.
- AI Security and the real threat of cyber attacks:
Microsoft’s chat bot Tay, which was trained by twitter trolls to make racist slurs is a classic example of security threats. Model thefts is another area where attacks are common. This is where instead of creating one’s own model, a query is run on an existing model and learns how a model has reached its conclusions. The data is then used to recreate or steal the model. Gartner forecasts by 2022, 30% of all cyberattacks will use training data poisoning, AI model theft, or adversarial samples.
India will not really be impacted by 5G technologies like the US and European markets where the implications are likely to be significant. Trials are expected in 2020 in India. This will certainly affect us very soon.
We live in the shadow of the future. We live in the shadow of technology as we enter the next decade. A decade that will define and redefine possibilities that technology holds for the human race. We will have to make choices, difficult choices based on ethics and value systems and at the same time push boundaries in technological innovations to discover the future.