Technologies for 2020 and Beyond – A Gartner Review

Written by Bart Nachimow

November 22, 2019

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

While known here in New York just as much for his catching and managerial skills as most know him for his intriguing aphorisms (or Yogi-isms), Yogi Berra’s words hold true.

Think back ten years ago. Could you even imagine the technological advancements that even something as omnipresent as a cell phone could make?

When applied to the future of technology, many of Yogi Berra’s quotes still hold true. In fact, as fast as the world is going, some of the following Yogi-isms might be truer than ever.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

If you don’t think of technology very often, it’s easy to lose track of where the trends are heading. For those who may not be fans of Yogi Berra, maybe this quote from Bill Gates will move you.

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

Remember, ten years ago, the iPhone 3G delivered a 2.0-megapixel camera, an 1150 mAh battery able to deliver approximately 197 minutes of web browsing—all over an impressive 3.5-inch screen and a blazing-fast 3G network that delivered a maximum speed of 42 megabytes per second.

Could you imagine just how robust today’s cell phone apps could be or that cellular data could be transferred more than 200 times faster on a 5G network?

How about social media? This was a time when Twitter had just over a million users, YouTube was fighting for its life against copyright lawsuits, and Facebook had a real impact on elections. Did you think any of these would become a core part of your marketing strategy?

In 2009, Gartner saw this, featuring mobile applications, cloud computing, advanced analytics, and social computing in their top ten strategic technology trends for 2010.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Gartner’s Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

The business world is changing and the technological landscape is evolving, but every year, Gartner seems to deliver a perfect prediction for the next three to five years in their annual “Strategic Technology Trends” report.

Defined as trends that “have the potential both to create opportunity and to drive significant disruption,” these could affect everything from consumer delivery to business and IT planning, relying on emerging technology or expanding on technology used today.

Related: Ten Software Technology Buzzwords of 2019

Released every fall at the Gartner IT Symposium, this report shows where the technological world is heading. What’s on the horizon for the coming five years?

‘People-centric smart spaces’—delivering on the ‘intelligent digital mesh’

According to Gartner, “the future will be characterized by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere,” something they refer to as the “intelligent digital mesh.”

Intelligent digital mesh

This has long been a core component of their reports, referring to the following:

  • Intelligent: AI and machine learning technologies will seep into existing technology and even create new categories.
  • Digital: Both consumers and business users will become increasingly immersed as the line between physical and digital blurs.
  • Mesh: As everything becomes more connected, the connections between people, businesses, devices, content, and services will become tighter, used to deliver digital business outcomes.

Related: 15 Ways IoT Technology Could Impact Your Business by 2020

People-centric smart spaces

While the 2020 report still notes that “[intelligent digital mesh] will continue as an important underlying force over the next five years,” they also note that businesses think beyond the technology, considering the business and human context first. This leads to them breaking their report into two elements:

  • People-centric: A people-centric approach should start with understanding constituencies and the journey they undertake to interact with or support your organization. How will they use your product? How will you use technology to help them?
  • Smart spaces: A smart space is a physical environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. Whether it’s in a localized environment like a home, a business environment like a warehouse, or a societal one like a city, technology will relate to people differently.

Ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

Gartner’s top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020 are organized into people-centric and smart spaces categories. However, virtually all of the trends will have an impact on both the people and smart spaces concepts. Their entire guide explores every single minute detail and is worth the read, but briefly defines these in their introduction:

People-Centric:

  1. Hyperautomation deals with the application of advanced technologies including AI and machine learning to increasingly automate processes and augment humans. Learn how business process automation works and See how AI is being used already here.
  2. Multiexperience deals with the way that people perceive, interact and control the digital world across a wide range of devices and sensory touchpoints.
  3. Democratization explores how to create a simplified model for people to consume digital systems and tap into automated expertise beyond their training or experience. Much of this democratization started with BI software. Learn how.
  4. Human augmentation explores how humans are physically and cognitively augmented by these systems.
  5. Transparency and traceability focuses on the data privacy and digital ethics challenges and the application of design, operational principles, and technologies to increase transparency and traceability to enhance trust.

Smart Spaces:

  1. Empowered edge emphasizes how the spaces around us are increasingly populated by sensors and devices that connect people to one another and to digital services.
  2. Distributed cloud examines a major evolution in cloud computing where the applications, platforms, tools, security, management and other services are physically shifting from a centralized data center model to one in which the services are distributed and delivered at the point of need. The point of need can extend into customer data centers or all the way to the edge devices.
  3. Autonomous things explores how physical things in the spaces around people are enhanced with greater capabilities to perceive, interact, move, and manipulate these spaces with various levels of human guidance, autonomy and collaboration.
  4. Practical blockchain focuses on how blockchain can be leveraged in practical enterprise use cases that are expanding over the next three to five years. Learn five that could be used today.
  5. AI security deals with the reality of securing the AI-powered systems that are behind the people-centric trends. But don’t ignore the threats that exist today.

Learn even more from Gartner’s blog on the topic.

“It’s pretty far, but it doesn’t seem like it.” Stay up to date with all the latest from BSEC

Today’s business needs to build a strong foundation for tomorrow’s technologies.

Whether it’s embracing the cloud, leveraging advanced analytics, or finding products that are beginning to expand on their AI strategies, the best way to predict the future is to be a part of it.

Get to know more about positioning yourself for success by reading our C-Suite Sentiment Guide, following the Business Software Education Center on Twitter, and learning more about our sponsor, MIBAR.

Bonus: Ten Digital Transformation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

Digital transformation is one of those buzzy theories that people like to talk about without fully understanding. In practice, too many businesses are left standing still, either by indecisiveness or by applying traditional methods where it shouldn’t be applied.

If you’re looking for a smarter way to approach digital transformation, we invite you to download 10 Digital Transformation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Among these? Underestimating the importance of having a comprehensive strategy and change management. Other risks relate to taking on too much, too soon as well as navigating the technology changes in an unproductive way.

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