Gartner’s Top Strategic Predictions for 2020 & Beyond: Contemplating the Human Condition

I attended Gartner Symposium IT Xpo in Orlando last week, as the company I am part of, Endava, was one of the sponsors and exhibitors there. Amongst the craziness of it all, I managed to attend some sessions, one of which I was interested in, namely Gartner’s top strategic predictions for 2020, session delivered by Daryl Plummer, distinguished VP Analyst, Research & Advisory at Gartner. I believe it was very well structured, and I loved to see what Daryl’s & Gartner’s predictions are for just the upcoming years, not in a too far off future. In this article, I’ll go through them, add some photos of the slides of the session, and add my comments as well to spice things up. I enjoyed the session, so hopefully, you’ll enjoy this article too!

Prediction #1: Augmented Humans

“Through 2023, 30% of IT organizations will extend BYOD policies with “bring your own enhancement” (BYOE) to address augmented humans in the workplace.”

Soon, we will experience different kinds of technology-enhanced humans. These enhancements can vary from the simple chips inserted in our bodies to be used to enter a workplace, unlock a car or pay, to the more complex cyborgs that help disabled people see, hear, walk, etc.

Given the type of change these augmentations will bring to the human condition, it will inevitably adjust our relationship with technology and drive a reset in our expectations for change. Concerns need to be met, related to the security of individuals, businesses, and the data related to the activities such an enhancement will bring. It will mean our location, mood, and interactions will be 100% tracked and stored somewhere. A bit scary, right? Daryl asked the room who would be willing to have a chip implanted now, and there were very few people raising their hands… wondering if this prediction will come true and whether it will be a mass adoption, as millennials and older generations don’t seem keen to take on this next step.

Prediction #2: AI reducing Barriers to Access

“By 2023, the number of people with disabilities employed will triple due to AI and emerging technologies reducing barriers to access.”

Meaning, disabled people will have a robot assistant to compensate for their disability, and in this way, they will be able to perform jobs otherwise inaccessible to them. There are so many disabled people today that are currently an untapped pool, which, with the help of AI, will become employable. In the next year, we can expect more and more media stories of disabled people hired because they are supported by technology. 

An example is this Japanese robot that serves in a café, being controlled by people with disabilities.

Prediction #3: Online Shopping Addiction

“By 2023, the World Health Organization will identify online shopping as an addictive disorder, as millions abuse digital commerce and encounter financial stress.”

Not only does excessive consumer spend lead to debt and bankruptcy, but it also causes depression and health issues. The question is when will we have to act on outside intervention, creating user interfaces and journeys that are not all about encouraging spending. In the end, this is an ethical and moral debate we will be needing to have sooner better than later, especially given AI will shortly be able to predict our preferences and start shopping for us.

Prediction #4: Human Emotions Deciphered by AI

“By 2023, AI identification of emotions will influence more than half of the online advertisements you see.”

Soon, based on how we feel, we will be served ads to match that mood and try to turn it around if the case, to drive specific behaviors. AI will figure out our emotions based on the look on our faces, the expressions we have, and our tone of voice. Some projections show that emotion recognition technologies will reach a $24B market size by 2020. Security and ethics are, of course, our primary concerns related to having robots and machines manipulating us according to our feelings. Still, if we look on the bright side, these emotion recognition and interpretation technologies can help us and serve the good of the world if used right. The use of therapists to support these machines learn more about the human condition can have the positive impact we can only hope. But yes, I also do feel scared. 

Prediction #5: Internet of Behaviours

“By 2023, individual activities will be tracked digitally by an “Internet of Behaviour” to influence benefit and service eligibility for 40% of the people worldwide.” 

Some machines and AI will know all the time where we are and what we are doing, and this data will be used to qualify us for specific jobs, insurance rates, fines, etc. Imagine the police will always know when you exceeded the speed while driving your car. It will be impossible to break the rules without suffering the consequences. Same if you have a medical condition and have been given a tailored treatment and working out schedule. The doctor will immediately know if you’ve taken the pills and did the workouts as prescribed. If you didn’t, the insurer could also increase your insurance as you qualify for a high-risk individual. This, in some cases, can qualify as undisciplined and unsuitable for specific workplaces, and so on. Tracking our behaviors will streamline our lives, but it will also raise the common concerns of privacy, how private our lives will be, and security, who, and in which cases can someone access our data. 

GDPR is a start to regulating these kinds of raising concerns, and the principle is one that should be followed moving on: each individual has the right to know what personal data is used, and where, and have the freedom to deny the use of his/her information whenever he/she wants to. 

Prediction #6: Everyone becomes a citizen developer

“By 2023, 40% of professional workers will orchestrate their business application experience like they do their music streaming experience.”

Monolithic apps will disappear slowly, making room for open APIs that will allow workers to connect the apps they want and need, and organize their way of working and engaging with the apps. Companies should move towards rejecting any new monolithic solution, develop a view around how an employee or customer can integrate that app within his workflow to work the way people work. As a result, all of us can develop our own “app-environment” to serve our unique working style and needs. This one sounds cool to me.

Prediction #7: Cryptocurrency payments

“By 2025, 50% of the people with a smartphone but without a bank account will use a mobile-accessible cryptocurrency account.”

30% of the people don’t have a bank account today, but 71% of everyone will have a mobile services subscription by 2025. People will find it at hand to be able to pay, through their smartphone, in a cryptocurrency without the need to own a bank account. Which is some case is not possible. Apps and businesses will need to adjust and integrate to allow for cryptocurrency payments. This is also a new market expansion opportunity moving forward, for businesses, and a way to diversify our economies or revenues as individuals.

Prediction #8: Blockchain to identify fake news

“By 2023, up to 30% of world news and video content will be authenticated as real by blockchain countering Deep Fake technology.”

We were shown the Deep Fake video below, made by an artist manipulating Mark Zuckerberg, saying that whoever controls the data controls the future. This is true eventually, but Mark never said it. 

YouTube is full of such examples, and they are getting more and more real. Fake news is, in most cases generating higher interest, especially when it is prone to create a scandal, and now, with the AI technologies enhancements, it will become impossible to separate fake from real. Imagine how the world could be manipulated politically or economically if ‘appropriate’ fake news will be considered as genuine by a majority of the population, for long enough to reach a no-turning point… and that is why it becomes so essential to verify the truth behind the news we’re reading or watching. 

Blockchain is one technology that can verify the source of any written or video content, and businesses should implement that and also offer their users an easy interface to check the source of the material put up. Daryl ended with a prediction that by 2021, at least ten major news companies will have blockchain technology implemented to check and prove the truth of their content. 

Prediction #9: Regulation of the AI and machine learning designers

“By 2023, a self-regulating association for oversight of AI and machine learning designers will be established in at least four of the G7 countries.”

As AI and ML become life-critical, and few people understand the AI decision process, while the varying skills can quickly induce errors, regulations for designing AI and machine learning need to be put in place. Things like certifications and standards, practitioner rules, and a general AI governance competency will be implemented in more and more countries facing a rapid evolution in such technologies. Until then, though, we can expect AI-produced severe harm to be done on hundreds and thousands of humans.

Prediction #10: Digital transformation complexity and cost to double

“By 2021, digital transformation initiatives will take large traditional enterprises on average twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated.” 

Given the legacy systems in large enterprises won’t be able to sustain the amount of complexity, operational insight and scale needed to thrive in the future, digital transformation not only will become a must in every aspect of these businesses, but it will take twice longer and cost twice more, on average. The recommendation is to start now to untangle businesses and technology dependencies in your company and begin taking the necessary steps to transformation.

Machines reading our emotions, human enhancement, tracking our every move, feel like we’re moving towards a world where privacy will become a crucial thing, as someone, somewhere, a machine or a database will know everything about our personal lives. While this will streamline our lives – imagine going to a doctor, he will instantly see if you walked the 10k steps every day, or if you have eaten properly. Insurance will also be more expensive if you have a high disease risk as a result of not leading a healthy life. We’re heading into a world where everything will be monitored, and while this is all meant to help our lives better, there’s a huge black box around who will own such amount of data, whether they’ll use it right and for the good of the planet, and how each one of us can make sure they’re safe and can still live a private life.