Gartner’s top 10 strategic predictions for “resetting everything” in 2021 and beyond
October 21, 2020
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How tech will lead the reset of everything next year and beyond, and the three key components of these technologies.

We’re living in a world of uncertainty and Gartner’s top strategic predictions for 2021 examine how technology will help with resetting, restarting, and responding to society and the enterprise.

“Technologies are being stressed to their limits, and conventional computing is hitting a wall,” said Daryl Plummer, distinguished research vice president and Gartner Fellow, in a press release. “The world is moving faster than ever before, and it’s essential that technology and processes are able to keep up to support digital innovation needs. Starting now, CIOs can expect a decade of radical innovation led by nontraditional approaches to technology.”

The top technologies for the future will promote greater innovation and efficiency in the enterprise; they will be more effective than the technologies they are replacing; and they will have a transformational impact on society, Plummer said.

The predictions, developed by Gartner’s team of analysts, were revealed Wednesday during the virtual Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Americas conference.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

By 2024, 25% of traditional large enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results, effectively becoming “COO by proxy.”

The role of the chief operating officer (COO) is increasing in importance among born-digital companies. It’s essential to have a COO in place in order to achieve digital success. 

By 2025, 75% of conversations at work will be recorded and analyzed, enabling the discovery of added organizational value or risk.

Traditional conversations in real time are lessening, particularly with the increase in remote work during the pandemic, and cloud meeting solutions, messaging platforms and virtual assistants are the new norm for workplace conversations. The analytics of these conversations which can be recorded and replayed will be used to help companies comply with existing laws and regulations and predict future behavior and performance. Digital surveillance technology use will come with ethical considerations and privacy rights. 

By 2025, traditional computing technologies will hit a digital wall forcing the shift to new paradigms such as neuromorphic computing.

Current computing techniques will not be enough to allow CIOs and IT executives to deliver critical digital initiatives by 2025. Artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision and speech recognition will be used everywhere, and general-purpose processors will be unsuitable. 

“A variety of advanced computing architectures will emerge over the next decade,” Plummer said. “In the short term, such technologies could include extreme parallelism, DNN-on-a chip or neuromorphic computing. In the long term, technologies such as printed electronics, DNA storage, and chemical computing will create a wider range of innovation opportunities.”

By 2024, 30% of digital businesses will mandate DNA storage trials, addressing the exponential growth of data poised to overwhelm existing storage technology.

More advanced systems will be necessary as the computing needs of humanity evolves. These systems will be capable of radical adaptation and resilience in complex and hostile environments. DNA is inherently resilient and capable of error checking and self-repair, so it is an ideal data storage and computing platform for a range of applications. 

By 2025, 40% of physical experience-based businesses will improve financial results and outperform competitors by extending into paid virtual experiences.

The Internet of Things (IoT), digital twins and virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making immersive experiences more appealing and affordable to a wider range of consumers. This trend has accelerated during the pandemic as people have needed more remote and virtual engagement as a result of the social effects of the pandemic’s isolation. Physical experience companies need to begin building and acquiring skills in disciplines related to creating, delivering and supporting immersive, virtual experiences.

By 2025, customers will be the first humans to touch more than 20% of all products and produce in the world.

Automation has been accelerated by the pandemic, so customers will become the first humans to touch manufactured products and agricultural produce. 

“Automation is a new source of competitive advantage and disruption,” Plummer said. “For example, an intelligent machine may not squish the grapes in the same way a human packing them might. CIOs should see hyperautomation as a principle, not a project, as they move forward in updating their processes for the future.”

By 2025, customers will pay a freelance customer service expert to resolve 75% of their customer service issues.

Opting for going outside of official company channels will be more effective and create a better customer experience, so customers will opt for freelance customer service professionals with expert knowledge of the technology for which they are seeking assistance.  

By 2024, 30% of major organizations will use a new “voice of society” metric to act on societal issues and assess the impacts to their business performance.

The shared perspective of people in a community is the “voice of society” and drives the desire to represent and shift ethical values toward a commonly acceptable outcome. Opinion-based metrics such as the voice of society will be used as businesses expand to use these measurement tactics. They will be equal to more tangible metrics such as click-through rates. 

By 2023, large organizations will increase employee retention by more than 20% through repurposing office space as onsite childcare and education facilities.

In the wake of COVID-19, the global worker demand for childcare assistance will become even more challenging with Gartner predicting that one-in-five childcare centers will have permanently closed by early 2021. Large companies will begin to repurpose empty facility spaces for childcare or educational services to meet this increased demand and increase employee satisfaction, productivity and retention, particularly among women in the workforce. 

By 2024 content moderation services for user generated content will be surveyed as a top CEO priority in 30% of large organizations.

Content volatility on social media has increased with the social unrest of the past year. This creates brand-safety concerns for brand marketers and advertisers. Enterprises will invest in content moderation, enforcement and reporting services to understand the providence of the content on their sites. 

Plummer said: “In many cases, brands are going dark altogether on user-generated content platforms until appropriate policing measures are in place. Yet site and app publishers must walk the line between enforcing policies to provide a safe environment and being accused of censorship. Therefore, brand advertisers will become responsible for neutralizing polarizing content, and industry standards for content moderation will emerge.”


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