The time for a bimodal approach — accommodating the fast or slow paces for technology teams — has passed, outflanked by a breakneck speed of change in the enterprise.
Debuted at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Florida last week, Gartner's trends underscore the urgency in technology.
Intelligence and connectivity are becoming the norm. With that prevalence comes threats of future tech capable of disrupting current models. While technology has come to the fore, so too have privacy concerns.
Here are 10 trends to pay attention to in the coming years, outlined by David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow:
Privacy in the spotlight
1. Consumers losing patience with privacy, ethics violations
Asking forgiveness for overreaching technology development has defined the digital era.
Companies roll out solutions or technology advancements and deal with the consequences if there is backlash (just ask the dockless vehicle providers popping up overnight in cities around the country).
But consumers are losing patience, placing pressure on organizations to put privacy controls in place. And companies focusing solely on compliance will be exposed, according to Cearley.
Gartner anticipates organizations "lacking in privacy protection will pay 100% more in compliance" costs than those competitors following industry best-practices.
Building an intelligent world
2. The rise of autonomous 'things'
While regulators and consumers have paid close attention to — and scrutinized — self-driving vehicles, autonomous "things" are emerging in every sector. Whether it's land, sea, air or in the digital realm, autonomous functionalities can bridge the human-machine gap.
Less than 1% of vehicles had autonomous driving capabilities in 2017, but Gartner expects that number to increase to 10% by 2021.
Autonomous intelligence comes in different forms. Some autonomous vehicles are already working in specialized settings, such as mining equipment, according to Cearley. Advanced levels of autonomy will become more connected and take on "swarm" intelligence with high levels of coordination.
3. Boosting analytic smarts
Data scientists are a highly sought after commodity as companies across sectors work to use data more effectively. For companies lacking resources to curate and analyze, collected data goes to waste
With heightened demand, Gartner expects the number of "citizen data scientists to grow five times faster than the number of expert data scientists."
Applying intelligence to analytics, led by machine learning, allows computers to make unknown correlations in seconds, without waiting on data scientists to first create a process to derive insights. Tools enable users to work with and act on data insights without requiring deep understanding of complex processes.
4. AI as co-developer
Gartner expects AI to become immersed in the enterprise, but it will impact the application development process in particular, according to Cearley.
The analyst firm projects 40% of application development will use AI in tandem with developers by 2022.
Early cloud-based AI platforms and frameworks are already in place, but the number of cognitive services will continue to increase, according to Cearley. Already, as a service models have made it easier to build AI-enhanced systems through API integrations.
Living in a connected world
5. Empowering the edge
Since the birth of the internet of things, companies have looked to capitalize on its benefits. Many are quick to think of a sensor-filled world, but the intelligent edge can be found in PCs, smart signage, appliances or on a factory floor.
Edge device capabilities will continue to grow through 2028 because of advancements in storage, computing, AI and analytics, Gartner projects.
Edge computing breaks down barriers of pure centralized computing models, according to Cearley. Even downloading and managing things locally on a PC device from Office 365 counts as the edge.
Device ecosystems will continue to become more intelligent, but challenges will arise because of different device lifecycles and ongoing integration concerns. The easier it becomes to deploy an edge device, the more difficult it will become to manage.
6. Digital twins in the enterprise
Digital twins, or digital representations of something in the real world, are getting a boost in the enterprise. Almost one-quarter of enterprises with IoT projects are using digital twins, according to Gartner.
Traditionally, digital twins are connected to maintenance and machine reliability. But with the technology's advancement, businesses will be able to use it for process and asset optimization.
In the back office, enterprise software models can take a dynamic view of the organization, using data "to understand its state, respond to changes, improve operations and add value," according to Gartner.
Digital twins are also expected to boost the smart space trend, creating more dynamic work environments.
7. Speaking of smart spaces …
Organizations are starting to embed technology in physical spaces, making places more adaptive and responsive to people. Smart spaces are "populated by humans and enabled by technology," according to Gartner. With tech advancements, physical places will become more connected, intelligent and autonomous.
Think of walking into a room and the lights turn on. That's an example of a smart space. But that kind of responsiveness will become more in tune with its occupants. For example, a smart thermostat could adjust automatically based on the number of room occupants.
These capabilities already exist, but they're maturing and will become more pervasive along the way. Soon, all aspects of a smart space will have semi-intelligence, according to Cearley.
8. Creating immersive digital experiences
As technology has advanced, the burden on users has lessened. Users no longer have to know how to code to engage with complex systems. Design becomes visualized and offerings similar to building blocks for code makes it easier to create.
Companies are working to enter the virtual world to heighten trainings, demos, marketing and field services. The push into the virtual world will continue to increase as organizations think about the totality of the user experience and simplify it to create an "ambient" user experience, according to Cearley.
By 2022, 70% of enterprises are expected to be experiment with "immersive technologies" for enterprise and consumer applications, according to Gartner. But only one-quarter of such technologies will be deployed in production.
Technology of the future
9. Blockchain is on the way, still
Since last year's cryptocraze, experts and providers have hyped the future benefits of blockchain. Industry has not yet realized much of its impact. Some companies have created a platform to track produce or record art transactions, but those are siloed use cases.
The future of blockchain is bright, according to Gartner. The ledger technology is projected to create $3.1 trillion in business value by 2030.
Many solutions available now are blockchain-inspired, according to Cearley. But following a "slow ramp-up" and technical challenges, more businesses will find blockchain value.
10. Quantum computing disruption assured
Quantum is the future. At least that's what every advanced computing expert (and every end-of-modern-cryptography doomsday theorist) says.
But enterprises will start making room for quantum solutions in the near future. By 2023, 20% of organizations will start budgeting for quantum computing projects, according to Gartner. Today, less than 1% of companies budget for it.
Think of quantum computing compared to traditional computing by looking at a bookshelf. To read all the books in the world, a computer would process and read them in succession. But a quantum computer would read all the books at the same time.
Quantum computing will have the greatest impact on optimization problems, material science, chemistry, personalized medicine and biomimetics, according to Gartner. While the technology will be initially available as quantum computing-enabled technology, it will eventually evolve to quantum computing as a service offerings.