The future brings uncertainty and mystery. Forward-thinking technology leaders are tasked with trying to anticipate demands the coming years will bring.
Mostly the future offers chaos, but some order can emerge, according to Daryl Plummer, managing vice president, chief of research and Chief Gartner Fellow at Gartner, speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Florida earlier this month.
Anticipating the future in technology requires vision, effort and practicality, Plummer said. And leaders need to keep informed of the technology curve to understand what their role will become and what part technology will play.
Below are five of the most important Gartner projections for IT decision makers. These have been culled from a list of 10.
Run by "wizards" with skills that don't translate organization wide, 80% of AI projects will appear as "alchemy" through 2020.
When artificial intelligence is discussed, it is easy to jump to conclusions about the robot apocalypse or sentient systems. And those experts tinkering with AI are seen as "mysterious," according to Plummer.
AI systems can enhance human interaction, but the technology will need democratization for widespread impact. In the hands of a few, the aura of mystery will continue.
Making AI more prevalent will require revamping the AI talent pipeline and creating more agile education pathways, experts say. It will also require creating an appetite for data and augmenting human capabilities.
Before it can set its sights outright on AI, companies like Boeing are stoking appetites for more data and analytic approaches. Such internal demand in an organization builds an awareness of the capabilities of more advanced technology, a first step in democratization.
How business will know the prediction is on track: The advancement of data science automation through the end of 2019 will allow workplace skills to "catch up" with "AI data complexity," according to Gartner.
By 2021, three-quarters of blockchain projects will suffer "privacy poisoning," where personal data will find its way into the ledger technology. This will make public blockchains noncompliant with privacy regulations like GDPR.
Current blockchain experiments focus on tracking products through the supply chain, like Walmart's leafy green traceability system through the IBM Food Trust network.
But many IT experts have pinned their hopes for a more secure and privacy-filled world on the ledger technology.
The conundrum is, if too much sensitive information is added onto the blockchain and rendered uneditable, privacy violations will ensue.
Companies will have to lock down text fields and make sure it's not easy to enter information unless encryption is used, Plummer said. Privacy by design is the key thing, which make require sacrificing blockchain purity.
How business will know the prediction is on track: Across sectors, companies will see more active enforcement of "ePrivacy regulation" leading up to 2020.
Through 2022, more internal enterprise offerings will morph into "external revenue-generating projects," capitalizing on flexible technology and the cloud.
The cliche boasts, "every company is becoming a tech company." While it's becoming overused, there is some truth to the concept.
Digital technologies are making it easier to pivot services and creative thinkers are tapping into the power of IT to build out internal capabilities and sell as products. Such offerings enhance the rest of the market, according to Plummer.
Already there are successful use cases of companies plying internal wares. The Washington Post built a content management system to use in-house. Now, the Post licenses it to other publishers, like The Dallas Morning News and other global news organizations.
By the end of 2018, the Post expects to support between 150 and 200 sites, Digiday reports.
How business will know the prediction is on track: In 2019, top enterprise performers will successfully shift IT to a revenue-generating part of the organization.
Digital giants, controlling "vast economic ecosystems and data," will control 40% of the market in their respective industry, according to Gartner.
Dominate players in sector act as "gatekeepers" to a market because they own the data, Plummer said. Market consolidation will continue to increase, and focus will turn to partnerships to remain relevant.
As seen with smaller market players partnering with cloud giants Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services, many offerings will focus on interoperability over exclusivity.
Though the quickly consolidating tech ecosystem initially comes to mind — in light of the mega deal between IBM and Red Hat — Retail is another market where dominance is becoming apparent.
In the war to win e-commerce, companies are turning to data to better understand customers and cement market leadership. Target, for example, is turning to technology and weaving a blend of "digital, home and store" to meet customer demands.
How business will know the prediction is on track: The concentration of markets will grow to become a global trend by the end of 2019.
Cybersecurity breaches or social media scandals will lose their effect and have "zero lasting consumer impact" through 2021, according to Gartner.
While initial news of a breach might make waves, businesses and consumers are becoming desensitized to the exposure of personal data and interest wanes as more information about an incident is released.
Industry is becoming "too jaded" to care. The same is true of other headline-grabbing news. Intrigue may circulate about businesses and high-profile leaders, but many are developing short-term memories.
Executives need to balance risk with expectation, according to Plummer. While that means it is okay for businesses to fail, companies have to monitor for unintended consequences
When it comes to sensitives incidents, companies have to recognize what the impact will be rather than perceiving what the impact could be, Plummer said.
How business will know the prediction is on track: Through 2019, the number of people using social media daily will steadily increase.