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Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015: Strategic Predictions for 2016

Major Tech Trends Get at Heart of What It Means to Be Human in the Digital Business and Digital Government Future

Roger Hughlett's avatar

By: Roger Hughlett

October 7, 2015

Machines are getting smarter and smarter as we move deeper and deeper into the digital future. The worlds of business and government are moving toward algorithmic and smart machine-driven environments where people and machines must define harmonious relationships.

Daryl Plummer, Gartner Research Vice President and Fellow, presented 10 strategic predictions that all touch on business and government capitalizing on technology advancements in order to better serve all stakeholders – from customers to citizens. Plummer presented the Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2016 at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando.

“Gartner's Top Predictions begin to separate us from the mere notion of technology adoption and to draw us more deeply into issues surrounding what it means to be human in a digital world," Plummer said.

Three Key Trends for CIOs and IT Leaders

Plummer stressed that CIOs and other IT leaders would be wise to keep the following three important and broad technology trends in mind when thinking about the future.

  • The relationship between people and machines will go from cooperative, to co-dependent, to competitive.
  • "Smartness" is being applied across the fabric of the work environment.
  • The Nexus of Forces is evolving into a new set of scenarios.

The Top 10 Strategic Predictions

  • By 2018, 20 percent of all business content will be authored by machines: This trend involves the rise of robotic writing programs that can produce a document as if it were written by a human. CIOs and other IT leaders should think about identifying opportunities to adopt automated content generation services now.
  • By 2018, 6 billion connected things will be requesting support: In five years, another million new devices will come online and every one of these devices will at some point connect back to the network saying they need some attention. In order to keep up with this, IT will need to deploy machines to watch over machines.
  • By 2020, autonomous software agents outside of human control will participate in 5 percent of all economic transactions: CIOs will need to study technologies based on crypt-currencies like Bitcoin and will need to use pattern matching algorithms to detect robo-thieves.
  • By 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a "robo-boss": Most people will have to learn to live with robots supervising them on certain things. Plummer pointed out that there are already robots doing this but their intelligence will grow.
  • By 2018, 20 percent of smart buildings will have suffered from digital vandalism:  As more and more systems within buildings and homes are interconnected there are more surfaces open to attack. As buildings get smarter and more connected (HVAC units, security systems, telecommunications), the more open to digital vandalism they become.
  • By 2018, 50 percent of the fastest-growing companies will have fewer employees than instances of smart machines: Gathering talent will be the next smart machine battleground. Digital Business and Digital Government will need talent to help machines learn the right things and how to grow. IT leaders need to establish governance and management of a hybrid ecosystem consisting of employees and smart machines.
  • By 2018, customer digital assistants will recognize individuals by face and voice across channels and partners: Machines are already pretty good at listening and telling us what to do. In the future, we need to get digital assistants to use credentials across multiple channels. CIOs need to think about customer engagement.
  • By 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment: From FitBits to GPS devices, we will all be wearing something that collects data and delivers that information to someone who can use it to their advantage. CIOs need to establish policies that can be agreed upon by individuals and companies or government agencies.
  • By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40 percent of mobile interactions, and the post-app era will begin to dominate: In the future, people won’t download an app just to access a particular system or business. The system will automatically interact with them and an algorithm will figure out what they need.
  • Through 2020, 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer's fault: Plummer told the audience to stop blaming cloud security for failures. In the future you will grow your own cloud protection. It will be your fault if you don’t take your security posture more seriously.

Smart Machines, Smarter People

Plummer encouraged all IT leaders to train managers to focus on "human" issues such as creative leadership, worker relations and strategic planning as they prepare and embrace this predicted future.

Without people making smart decisions about how to leverage smart machines, there really isn’t much point in the machines after all.

This concept really rings true for me as someone who lives and breathes case management software that puts people and data at the center of the systems we design and deploy for state and federal government agencies. Without smart people, the smartest machines or the best software systems fall short of delivering the intended results. It’s worth thinking about as we step closer and closer to a future where smart machines surround us at home and at work.

About the Author

Roger Hughlett was a member of the Marketing Team with MicroPact from 2013 - 2015.