Every year research firm Gartner releases a list of what it thinks are the ten most important strategic technology trends for the year ahead. I’m always interested in what the firm thinks CIOs and managers should be focused on.
Frances Karamouzis, a Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst, said that this year’s themes were built around three main themes: Optimize for resilience, operations, or trust; scale vertical solutions and product delivery; and pioneer with new forms of engagements, to accelerate responses or opportunity.
(Credit: Michael J. Miller)
She said that looking at all the challenges facing organizations today, “uncertainty can be an opportunity” and urged senior IT executives to “make innovation mandatory.”
Here’s the full list.
Digital Immune System
CIOs should be optimizing resilience by creating a “digital immune system.” She said that 76% of digital teams are responsible for revenue, and they need to ensure things like reliability and scalability. She gave examples of how American Airlines dealt with complexity growth and gained increased operational resiliency and scalability, and how Banco Itau automated its incident resolution system.
To optimize operations, she said organizations should focus on applied observability going across the whole stack, starting with raw data, adding analytics, and moving up to data-driven decisions. She noted this trend is about clarity, not creativity, such as the way Tesla offers insurance in Texas based on actionable behavior, not predictions; and how Klaveness Ship Management was able to reduce operating expense costs through the use of a dashboard and tracking all sorts of underlying measurements.
To optimize trust in AI, Karamouzis talked about the need for AI Trust, Risk, and Security Management (TRiSM). A Gartner survey found that 41% of organizations had experienced an AI privacy breach or security incident.
She noted that half of AI models never make it into production, due to trust and explainability or ethics (security and privacy issues). Therefore, she said, it was important to incorporate these issues into model development.
Industry Cloud Platforms
Enterprises want to move cloud discussion away from technology to focus on business value, she said. To scale vertically, this will involve moving to industry cloud platforms, which combine software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure features to allow organizations to build unique applications targeted for a specific industry. Gartner predicts that by 2027, more than 50% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms.
Examples she gave include Intermountain Healthcare, which is building a healthcare platform, and Goldman Sachs, which has partnered with AWS to create a “Financial Cloud for Data.”
To scale delivery, Karamouzis said organizations should focus on platform engineering. She said developers often struggle to respond immediately to business needs, because of complex architectures, hybrid infrastructure, and a lack of skills. She said that to remove friction from the process, organizations should focus on building reusability for accelerated deployment with a common set of reusable components and a self-service development portal. Gartner predicts that 80% of software engineering organizations will establish dedicated platform engineering teams by 2026 and 75% of those will include developer self-service portals.
Examples include a platform built by Politet (the Norwegian Police Service) for rapid product innovation, and one built by Adidas to standardize common activities.
To scale everywhere, she said, you need to track all sorts of devices from end-user computing to digital tagging on products. There is no one network technology that fits all these cases, so organizations will need to support a spectrum from office wireless networks to LTE and 5G to RFID. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60% of enterprises will be using five or more wireless technologies simultaneously.
She said that CIOs need to prepare for their network to deliver more information and become a source of direct business value. It’s not just about connectivity, she said, but extending endpoints for value.
Examples she gave include Israel retailer Shufersal, which tags fruit from farm to store through low-energy tracking; and specialty chemical company Albemarle, which is deploying connectivity via a private LTE and 5G.
To pioneer engagement, Karamouzis talked about “superapps” which combine apps, platform, and ecosystem into one application, and allows third parties to develop “mini-apps” on top of it. The result is an integrated digital experience inside a single offering—just as offered by the Chinese apps WeChat and AliPay. She said there were already 15 superapps with over 2.6 billion active users, but that there is an opportunity for others to build such applications.
Examples include PayPay in Japan, which has 50 million users for its integrated payment ecosystem, and Tata Neu in India, which offers a personalized shopping experience with everything from plane tickets to health checks.
Karamouzis said that with AI in business today, most models struggle with changing environments, limited training, and generalized results. To pioneer the acceleration of AI, she talked about the need for adaptive systems that use real-time feedback to continuously retrain models based on new data and adjusted goals. She said that enterprises that embrace adaptive AI will be able to operationalize AI models 25% faster than their peers.
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Examples she gave include the US Army, which is using AI-driven combat training to achieve 40% better learning time; and UK startup Luffy which focuses on a responsive edge solution for temperature control for the development of hybrid materials.
To pioneer opportunity, she said organizations should consider building Metaverse applications. Today, she said, this is mostly about building a reputation for innovation. But organizations are using the metaverse for a variety of things, including customer service, brand influence, events, and retail spaces. Gartner predicts that by 2027, over 40% of large organizations worldwide will use a combination of Web3, AR, cloud, and digital twins in metaverse-based projects aimed at increasing revenue. Karamouzis said organizations should invest in technology that helps move this forward now.
Examples she gave include JP Morgan Chase, which built Decentraland, the first metaverse bank; and Siemens which has worked with Nvidia to build an “industrial metaverse” based on digital twins and IoT, aiming to lower the cost of design.
All of this is tied together by sustainability technology. She noted we need to consider the impact of all of the technologies we deploy. A recent Gartner survey of CEOs said that environmental and social responsibility is now the third most important priority behind profitability and revenues.
Echoing the opening keynote, she said that sustainable technology offers a “2 for 1” with the ability to both improve profitability and improve sustainability.
Examples here include Stora Echo, which works on AI partnering for sustainability, and DeliverFund, which is using technology to fight trafficking.
Overall, Karamouzis said, CIOs need to “meet the moment and make the difference.” You can’t do all of these things at once, so she suggests executives pick the targeted things that are really important to their business, array them and superimpose trends on a timeline, and then plot a roadmap of what to invest in, and when. She shared a sample roadmap of what this might look like.
Gartner doesn’t expect its clients will invest in all ten trends at the same time, she said, noting that this is not a “one size fits all” conversation.
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