With 2020 in the rearview mirror, The New Year is starting to come into focus. At least the research firms that track what happened and what is happening—and predict what will happen—are taking notice.
Gartner, for example, recently revealed its top strategic IT (information technology) predictions for 2022 and beyond. These explore various lessons that business and IT leaders have learned during the ongoing disruption and uncertainty – the push toward human centricity, the race to resilience, and the ability to reach beyond expectations.
Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the unexpected and, for many companies, the unpredictable for more than a year and companies have learned to be prepared to move in multiple strategic directions at once. Daryl Plummer, distinguished research vice president and Gartner Fellow explains, “Leaders that embrace options for workers, enhanced enterprise efficiency, and accelerated transformation plans have greater resilience in dealing with change.”
Indeed, “Resilience, opportunity, and risk have always been components of good business strategy, but today these issues hold new meaning,” Plummer adds. “This year’s predictions embody how resilience must be built in more non-traditional ways, from talent to business modularity, while opportunity and risk must be viewed with a greater sense of urgency than ever before.”
Rather than wait until New Year’s Day 2022, here are some of Gartner’s top strategic technology trends for 2022. Some are technology-focused, others management aligned. On the management side:
With the rise in remote and hybrid working patterns, traditional office-centric organizations are evolving into distributed enterprises comprised of geographically dispersed workers. This requires CIOs to make major technical and service changes to deliver frictionless work experiences. For every organization, from retail to education, their delivery model has to be reconfigured to embrace distributed services. Gartner expects that by 2023, 75% of organizations that exploit distributed enterprise benefits will realize revenue growth 25% faster than competitors.
And technology to aid management:
To truly deliver digital capabilities anywhere and everywhere, enterprises must turn away from the familiar “lift and shift” migrations and toward CNPs (cloud-native platforms). CNPs use the core capabilities of cloud computing to provide scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities “as a service” to technology creators using internet technologies, delivering faster time to value and reduced costs. For this reason, Gartner predicts that CNPs will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives by 2025 — up from less than 40% in 2021.
Because employees are often remote from the office structures, data is strung out across many platforms in many locations. Data is only useful if enterprises can trust it and with assets and users anywhere, the traditional security perimeter is gone. This requires a CSMA (cybersecurity mesh architecture). CSMA helps provide an integrated security structure and posture to secure all assets, regardless of location. By 2024, organizations adopting a CSMA to integrate security tools to work as a cooperative ecosystem will reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90%.
One mesh leads to another:
The number of data and application silos has surged in the last decade, while the number of skilled personnel in D&A (data and analytics) teams has either stayed constant or even dropped. Data fabrics – a flexible, resilient integration of data across platforms and business users – have emerged to simplify an organization’s data integration infrastructure and create a scalable architecture that reduces the technical debt seen in most D&A teams due to the rising integration challenges. A data fabric’s real value is its ability to dynamically improve data usage with its inbuilt analytics, cutting data management efforts by up to 70% and accelerating time to value.
An organization’s decision-making competency can be a significant source of competitive advantage, but it’s becoming more demanding. Decision intelligence, otherwise known as DI is a practical discipline used to improve decision making by explicitly understanding and engineering how decisions are made, and outcomes evaluated, managed and improved by feedback. Gartner predicts that in the next two years, a third of large organizations will be using decision intelligence for structured decision-making, to improve competitive advantage.
DI introduces us to AI (artificial intelligence):
IT leaders struggle to integrate AI within applications, wasting time and money on AI projects that are never put in production, or struggling to retain value from AI solutions once released. AI engineering is an integrated approach for operationalizing AI models. For teams working on AI, the real differentiator for their organizations will lie in their ability to continually enhance value through rapid AI change, infers Gartner. By 2025, the 10% of enterprises that establish AI engineering best practices will generate at least three times more value from their AI efforts than the 90% of enterprises that do not.
Generative Artificial Intelligence
One of the most visible and powerful AI (artificial intelligence) techniques coming to market is generative AI – machine learning methods that learn about content or objects from their data, and use it to generate brand-new, completely original, realistic artifacts.
Generative AI can be used for a range of activities such as creating software code, facilitating drug development, and targeted marketing but can also be misused for scams, fraud, political disinformation, forged identities, and more. By 2025, Gartner expects generative AI to account for 10% of all data produced, up from less than 1% today.
Going deeper into the technology food chain:
As enterprises grow, traditional programming or simple automation will not scale. Autonomic systems are self-managing physical or software systems that learn from their environments. Unlike automated or even autonomous systems, autonomic systems can dynamically modify their own algorithms without an external software update, enabling them to rapidly adapt to new conditions in the field, much like humans can.
In the continuously changing business context, demand for business adaptability directs organizations toward technology architecture that supports fast, safe and efficient application change. Composable application architecture empowers such adaptability, and those that have adopted a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.
Hyperautomation enables accelerated growth and business resilience by rapidly identifying, vetting and automating as many processes as possible. Gartner research shows that the top-performing hyperautomation teams focus on three key priorities: improving the quality of work, speeding up business processes, and enhancing the agility of decision-making. Business technologists supported an average of 4.2 automation initiatives in the past year, too.
As well as dealing with maturing international privacy and data protection legislation, CIOs must avoid any loss of customer trust resulting from privacy incidents. Therefore, Gartner expects 60% of large organizations to use one or more privacy-enhancing computation techniques by 2025. PEC (privacy-enhancing computation) techniques – which protect personal and sensitive information at a data, software, or hardware level – securely share, pool and analyze data without compromising confidentiality or privacy. Current use cases exist in many verticals as well as with public cloud infrastructures (e.g., trusted execution environments).
In the longer range, Gartner goes out on several limbs to predict out through the end of the decade:
By 2024, 30% of corporate teams will be without a boss due to the self-directed and hybrid nature of work.
The pandemic embedded agility inside business operations and streamlined business processes down to essential value. This included a shift from central decision making to peer-to-peer network-based decision making that reduces bottlenecks and saves time in a hybrid working environment. As hybrid work continues, removing the traditional manager role can be a more pragmatic route to efficiency.
By 2024, a cyberattack will so damage critical infrastructure that a member of the G20 will reciprocate with a declared physical attack.
Cyberattacks have historically been treated by nations as crime, not warfare. However, as the losses produced by recent large-scale attacks aimed at critical infrastructure have reached unprecedented levels, some governments are moving to prepare for cyber-war via dedicated cyber-defense units.
In the near-term, enterprises will continue to bear the primary responsibility to defend against cyberattacks. However, enterprises have never been charged with serving as the first line of defense against warfare, so increasingly severe attacks will prompt military involvement, eventually deterring non-state actors from targeting critical infrastructure.
By 2024, 80% of CIOs surveyed will list modular business redesign, through composability, as a top 5 reason for accelerated business performance.
Market turbulence predates and will survive COVID-19. Trying to return to stability will not allow the organization to thrive in the ‘renewal’ phase beyond the current disruption. To survive, progressive CIOs are shifting their mindset to see volatility as an opportunity. Business composability, or the modular redesign of operational assets to minimize interdependencies, enables work to be recomposed quickly, easily, and safely. It is a competitive addition to an organization’s toolbox that enables CIOs to master the risks of accelerating change.
Some very possible predictions are focused on customers, online and on site:
By 2024, 40% of consumers will trick behavior tracking metrics to intentionally devalue the personal data collected about them, making it difficult to monetize.
Consumers are increasingly aware of the value that companies glean from their personal data, and the power of that data when wielded through recommendation algorithms to manipulate behavior. In response, some are attempting to undermine such tracking methods by sharing false details or clicking on ads they aren’t interested in, among other tactics. Whether motivated by privacy and security concerns, exposure to misinformation, or desire for personal monetary gain, consumers are aiming to devalue the behavioral data companies have come to rely upon.
Speaking of data:
By 2025, synthetic data will reduce personal customer data collection, avoiding 70% of privacy violation sanctions.
Data generated using AI techniques, known as synthetic data, is gaining momentum. Synthetic data can serve as a proxy for real data, resulting in reduced collection, use or sharing of sensitive information. This is significant as maturing and regionally different privacy regulations put pressure on organizations to reduce the risk of privacy violations and ensure resiliency.
And speaking of customers:
By 2025, 75% of companies will “break up” with poor-fit customers as the cost of retaining them eclipses good-fit customer acquisition costs.
Organizations often expunge poor-fit customers from sales pipelines, but few proactively identify and say goodbye to them after they’ve purchased a product or service. Yet, keeping a poor-fit customer can be costly, both in terms of time spent satisfying them as well as the opportunity costs, brand degradation, and long-term profit erosion that can occur.
Going a bit further afield:
By 2026, NFT (non-fungible token) gamification will propel an enterprise into the top 10 highest valued companies.
NFTs are becoming a way to leverage hyper-tokenization to grow business models exponentially. The value proposition for NFTs is underpinned by the expectation that buyers are willing to pay more for a digital artifact because they belong to a network of people with similar values and interests. By 2024, Gartner predicts that 50% of publicly listed companies will have some sort of NFT underpinning their brand and/or digital ecosystem presence. NFTs will become a powerful marketing tool to underpin digital ecosystems’ effects and accelerate enterprise valuations.
By 2027, low orbit satellites will extend Internet coverage to an additional billion of the world’s poorest people, raising 50% of them out of poverty.
Using satellite backhaul significantly reduces the installation and operational costs of deploying a cellular base station. Satellites are also able to provide islands of connectivity based on where customers are location. The introduction of LEO (low Earth orbit) satellite constellations will make it economical to extend network coverage into sparsely populated regions.
“With connectivity comes participation, both economically and politically, in the wider ecosystem,” says Plummer. “The addition of billions of newly connected ‘netizens’ will have a profound impact on the Internet in terms of culture and content.”
And finally, in the category of technology run wild:
By 2027, a quarter of the Fortune 20 companies will be supplanted by companies that neuromine and influence subconscious behavior at scale.
“Most executives already appreciate that every company is a technology company,” says Gartner. “The winners of the next decade will be experts at neuromining — applying behavioral intelligence and related technology to analyze, understand, and influence human behavior at scale.”
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