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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
– Charles Darwin, 1809
Most of us know about ‘Darwinism’ or the theory of biological evolution by Charles Darwin. It talks about natural selection and inheriting variations by organisms to increase its ability to compete and survive. Over the years, there have been many examples that prove this theory applies not only to biological evolution, but also to the technological evolution. With technologies advancing with ever-increasing velocity, it becomes a necessity for Technology Innovation Leaders to adapt to these changes with least friction. What can come handy is the annual analysis report released by Gartner, which galvanizes different technology trends together.
The Gartner report for this year – ‘Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020’ is structured around the idea of “people-centric smart spaces”. It examines how certain technologies can create numerous opportunities and can drive disruptions in a way that will change how we, humans, will live in the coming years. This report makes it very clear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a bottom-line role in providing a good ambient experience. It also talks about how important it is to have governing principles, policies, best practices and technology architectures to increase transparency and trust in AI.
At Gartner 2019 IT Symposium/Xpo™ in Orlando, Florida, Brian Burke, Gartner Research VP, said “These trends have a profound impact on the people and the spaces they inhabit. Rather than building a technology stack and then exploring the potential applications, organizations must consider the business and human context first.”
Workplaces are becoming more people-centric, putting people at the centre of any technology strategy. Organisations are now making significant investments in user experience to meet growing expectations. Listed below are the 5 People-centric Technology Trends which, per Gartner, have great potential for disruption.
Trend 1: Hyperautomation
Automation can broadly be defined as employing technology to perform routine tasks thus reducing the human involvement. Hyperautomation is the next step. This trend is about providing an end-to-end automation solution using a wide array of machine learning algorithms, packaged software and automation tools. Almost every forward-looking company is now looking at processes it can automate and are also aware of the potential of Robotic process automation (RPA) and Intelligent Business Process Management Suite (iBPMS) in achieving this. Since it involves automating every process of an entire organization like operations model and business process model, it often results in the creation of a dynamic, virtual representation of that organization, also called Digital Twin of Organization (DTO). DTO helps align employees with the organization’s goals and operations and evaluates the impact of changes in a constrained environment.
Trend 2: Multiexperience
Multiexperience is about changing the way people interact with the digital world by providing them with a multi-modal user interface that will utilize multisensory and multitouchpoints. It will use all human senses along with advanced technological senses (like heat, humidity, radar) to connect across different devices including traditional computing devices, wearables, automobiles, environmental sensors, and consumer appliances. These widened sensory channels will support varied capabilities, such as emotion recognition through facial expression analysis or using accelerometers to identify abnormal movements that may indicate a health condition. Both Google and Amazon are already working on providing multi experience by adding screens and cameras to their smart speakers.
Per Gartner, “By 2023, more than 25% of the mobile apps, progressive web apps, and conversational apps at large enterprises will be built and/or run through a multiexperience development platform.” A multiexperience development platform (MXDP) is a suite that offers both front-end and back-end services for the development of an ambient experience that can be integrated across a range of devices. Although predictions state that privacy concerns can impact the level of adoption in many organizations, but it is still expected to evolve through 2024.
Trend 3: Democratization
Democratization is about empowering everyone through access to technical and business level expertise without extensive and costly training. The target of this trend could be anyone from customers, business partners to professional application developers and assembly line workers. Democratization has four key aspects: Democratization of Application Development, Democratization of Data and Analytics, Democratization of Design and Democratization of Knowledge.
It also talks about dealing with “Shadow AI”. Shadow AI is a natural outcome of democratization where people without formal training can use tools to develop their own AI-powered solutions and provide peer-to-peer support to others. Low-code or No-code application development has seen an increase due to the rising demand for rapid application development platforms. Per Gartner, by 2024, more than 65% of application development will be based on low-code development and 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four such tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives.
Trend 4: Human Augmentation
Human Augmentation (or “Human 2.0”) aims at enhancing human capabilities through technology. It may seem to be a new trend, but it started even before the computers were introduced. It goes back to the time when the usage of typewriter, copy machine and printing press started, which gave humans the ability to create, copy and publish text. This trend includes combining different innovations to deliver cognitive and physical improvements as part of human experience. Physical augmentation has several aspects like Sensory Augmentation, Brain Augmentation, Genetic Augmentation and, Appendage and Biological Function Augmentation. Since human augmentation will affect human lives to a very great extent, organizations must consider five major areas before adapting to it: Security, Privacy, Compliance, Health impact, Ethics. All types of enterprises are now examining ways of implementing human augmentation in different business use cases.
Trend 5: Transparency and Traceability
As consumers are becoming more aware, they want a guarantee of the products they consume and demand control over their personal information. With increasing AI-based decision making, the concern of digital ethics and privacy needs are rising, and transparency and traceability are critical in supporting it. This trend focuses on six pillars of trust: Ethics, Integrity, Openness, Accountability, Competence and Consistency. This is the age of surveillance capitalism. There are billions of endpoints collecting information of each one of us through which it is not difficult to identify who you are, where you are, what you’re doing and even what you’re thinking! Many jurisdictions, including Europe, South Africa, South Korea and China, have the ‘Right to be forgotten’ (RTBF) legislation in place. Gartner predicts that by 2023, over 75% of large organizations will employ AI experts in behaviour forensic, privacy, and customer trust to reduce brand and reputation risk and by 2025, 30% of government and large enterprise contracts for purchase of digital products and services using AI will require the use of explainable and ethical AI.
One of the most important things to note here is that the trends listed above cannot exist in isolation. For people-centric technologies to provide digital services, people need an environment where they can interact with digital spaces as a natural part of their everyday life. This brings in the concept of Smart Spaces. The next 5 trends in the Gartner report explores the technologies around Smart Spaces. IT leaders will have to analyse what combination of the above-mentioned trends along with smart space technologies, will drive the most innovation and strategy fitting it into their business models.
To Be Continued…
Priyanka is an ardent feminist and a dog-lover. She spends her free time cooking, reading poetry and exploring new ways to conserve the environment.
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