Gartner top predictions for 2019 and beyond examine three fundamental effects of continued digital innovation: artificial intelligence (AI) and skills, cultural advancement, and processes becoming products that result from increased digital capabilities and the emergence of continuous conceptual change in technology.
“As the advance of technology concepts continues to outpace the ability of enterprises to keep up,” says Gartner Distinguished Fellow and vice president Daryl Plummer.
“Continuous change can be made into an asset if an organisation sharpens its vision in order to see the future coming ahead of the change that vision heralds. Failing that, there must be a focus on a greater effort to see the need to shift the mindset of the organisation. With either of these two methods, practical actions can be found in even the seemingly unrelated predictions of the future.”
Through 2020, 80% of AI projects will remain alchemy, run by wizards whose talents won’t scale widely in the organisation.
When it comes to AI techniques, the needed talent is not only technically demanding - mathematically savvy data scientists to inventive data engineers, and rigorous operation research professionals to shrewd logisticians, are needed.
“Through 2020, a large majority of AI projects will remain craftily prepared in artisan IT kitchens,” says Plummer.
“The premises of a more systematic and effective production will come when organisations stop treating AI as an exotic cuisine and start focusing on business value first.”
By 2023, AI face recognition will lead to an 80% reduction in missing people in mature markets compared with 2018.
Over the next few years, facial matching and 3D facial imaging will become important elective aspects of capturing data about vulnerable populations, such as children and older people.
The most important advances will take place with more robust image capture, image library development, image analysis strategy and public acceptance. Additionally, with improved on-device/edge AI capability on cameras, public and private sectors will be able to prefilter necessary image data instead of sending all video streams to cloud for processing.
By 2023, U.S. emergency department visits will be reduced by 20 million due to enrollment of chronically ill patients in AI-enhanced virtual care.
Clinician shortages, particularly in rural and some urban areas, are driving healthcare providers to look for new approaches to delivering care. In many cases, virtual care has shown it can offer care more conveniently and cost-effectively than conventional face-to-face care.
Gartner research shows that successful use of virtual care helps control costs, improves the quality of delivery and improves access to care. This transition will not come easily and will require modification of cultural attitudes and healthcare financial models.
By 2023, 25% of organisations will require employees to sign an affidavit to avoid cyberbullying, but 70% of these initiatives will fail.
Employers want to strengthen employee behavioural guidelines when using social media. Signing an affidavit of agreement or adding a clause to a legacy code of conduct for refraining from cyberbullying is a logical next step.
“However, cyberbullying isn’t stopped by signing an agreement; it’s stopped by changing a culture,” says Plummer.
“That culture change should include teaching employees how to recognise what cyberbullying is and provide a means of reporting it when they see it. Formulate realistic policies that balance deterrence measures and strict definition, regulation or behaviour monitoring. Make sure employees understand why these measures are needed and how they benefit the organisation and themselves.”
Through 2022, 75% of organisations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting diversity and an inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets.
Business leaders across all functions understand the positive business impact of diversity and inclusion (D&I).
A key business requirement currently is the need for better decisions made fast at the lowest level possible, ideally at the frontline. To create inclusive teams, organisations need to move beyond obvious diversity cues such as gender and race, to seek out people with diverse work styles and thought patterns.
There are numerous technologies that can significantly enhance the scale and effectiveness of interventions to diagnose the current state of inclusion, develop leaders who foster inclusion and embed inclusion into daily business execution.
By 2021, 75% of public blockchains will suffer “privacy poisoning” - inserted personal data that renders the blockchain noncompliant with privacy laws.
A public blockchain is a pseudo-anarchic autonomous system such as the internet. Nobody can sue the internet, or make it accountable for the data being transmitted. Similarly, a public blockchain can’t be made accountable for the content it bears.
Any business operating processes using a public blockchain must maintain a copy of the entire blockchain as part of its systems of record. A public blockchain poisoned with personal data can’t be replaced, anonymised and/or structurally deleted from the shared ledger. Therefore, the business will be unable to resolve the need to keep records with its obligations to comply with privacy laws.
By 2023, ePrivacy regulations will increase online costs by minimising the use of “cookies” thus crippling the current internet ad revenue machine.
“None of the current or future legislation will be a 100% prohibition on personalised ads. However, the legislation does cripple the current internet advertising infrastructure and the players within,” says Plummer.
“By interrupting the data flow, as well as causing some use to be illegal, the delicate balance of service and provision, that has been built up over decades of free use of data, is at the very least, upset.”
Through 2022, a fast path to digital will be converting internal capabilities to external revenue-generating products using cloud economics and flexibility.
Market-dominant app stores will take over distribution and aspects of marketing. Simpler, accessible cloud tools will make the support and enhancement of applications as products easier.
Cloud also shifts the impacts on internal financial statements from below the line to above the line areas. As more aggressive companies convert internal processes and data into marketable solutions and start to report digital revenue gains, other organisations will follow suit.
By 2022, companies leveraging the “gatekeeper” position of the digital giants will capture 40% global market share, on average, in their industry.
Global market share of the top four firms by industry fell by four percentage points between 2006 and 2014 as European firms lost market share to a rising group of emerging market firms.
“We believe this is about to change as the powerful economics of scale and network effects assert themselves on a global basis,” says Plummer.
But the path to achieving and sustaining a dominant market share position globally is likely to lead to and through one or more of the digital giants (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) and their ecosystems.
These giants already command massive consumer share and have begun to use their “gatekeeper” positions and infrastructure to enter the B2B space as well. They are keenly aware of the trend to connect, are leading the advance into capabilities such as AI, and have aggressively taken actions to invade the “physical world” and make it part of their digital world - a world they control.
Through 2021, social media scandals and security breaches will have effectively zero lasting consumer impact.
The core point of this prediction is that the benefits of using digital technologies outweigh potential, but unknown, future risks. Consumer adoption of digital technologies will continue to grow, and backlash of organisations taking technology too far will be short term.
“For the last five years, multiple issues have arisen every year, in each case leading to significant coverage in the media, but the ramifications have been minimal. The main reason is the lack of choice and competition,” says Plummer.
“The ‘network effect,’ which makes it hard to switch to a different service because everybody is using the service, has proven to be very powerful. Even with a negative sentiment, there has been no change so far. Why would the next years be different?”