Gartner’s top strategic predictions for 2016 and beyond explore a world in which humans and smart machines become increasingly enmeshed.Gartner has unveiled 10 predictions looking at the digital future, detailing “an algorithmic and smart machine-driven world where people and machines must define harmonious relationships”.
“The ‘robo’ trend, the emerging practicality of artificial intelligence, and the fact that enterprises and consumers are now embracing the advancement of these technologies is driving change,” Daryl Plummer, Gartner vice president, distinguished analyst and fellow, commented.
“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.”
Gartner’s 10 predictions are:
1 – By 2018, 20 per cent of business content will be authored by machines. Gartner states there is a movement from human to machine-generated business content, with business content, such as shareholder reports, legal documents, market reports, press releases, articles and white papers, all candidates for automated writing tools.
2 – By 2018, six billion connected things will be requesting support. Enterprises will need to begin viewing things as customers of services, treating them accordingly, with mechanisms required to be developed for responding to significantly larger numbers of support requests communicated directly by things. Gartner states that responding to service requests from things will spawn entire service industries, while innovative solutions will emerge to improve the efficiency of many types of enterprise.
3 – By 2020, autonomous software agents outside of human control will participate in five per cent of all economic transactions. In what Gartner terms the “programmable economy”, new autonomous software agents will hold value themselves, rather than being tethered to humans, containing the “potential for great disruption to the existing financial services industry”. Gartner states algorithms, often developed in a transparent, open-source fashion, will be set free on the blockchain, capable of banking, insurance, markets, exchanges, crowdfunding, along with virtually all other types of financial instruments.
4 – By 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a “robo-boss”. Robo-bosses are set to increasingly make decisions previously the domain of human managers, with smart machine managers tuned to learn based on staffing decisions and management incentives.
5 – By year-end 2018, 20 per cent of smart buildings will have suffered from digital vandalism. Ranging from defacing digital signage to plunging whole buildings into prolonged darkness, Gartner states digital vandalism is a nuisance, rather than a threat, with products needed to offer acceptable levels of protection and hooks for integration into security monitoring and management systems.
6 – By 2018, 45 per cent of the fastest-growing companies will have fewer employees than instances of smart machines. Gartner states it believes the initial group of companies leveraging smart machine technologies most rapidly and effectively will be startups and other newer companies, with possible examples being a fully automated supermarket or a security firm offering drone-only surveillance services.
7 – By year-end 2018, customer digital assistant will recognise individuals by face and voice across channels and partners. Gartner notes that, while facial and voice recognition technologies have been largely disparate across multiple channels, customers are willing to adopt these technologies and techniques, helping them sift through increasing large amounts of information, choices and purchasing decisions.
8 – By 2018, two million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment. The health and fitness of employees in dangerous or physically demanding occupations will increasingly be tracked by employers via wearable devices, with emergency responders, such as police officers, firefighters and paramedics, likely comprising the largest group of employees required to monitor their health or fitness with wearables. Employees in other roles required to wear health and fitness monitors, will include professional athletes, political leaders, airline pilots, industrial workers and remote field workers.
9 – By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40 per cent of mobile interactions, and the post-app era will begin to dominate. Smart agent technologies, in the form of virtual personal assistants (VPAs) along with other agents, will monitor user content and behaviour in conjunction with cloud-hosted neural networks, building and maintaining data models from which the technology will draw inferences about people, content and contexts, predicting users’ needs, building trust and ultimately acting autonomously on the user’s behalf.
10 – Through 2020, 95 per cent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. Gartner notes that “the characteristics of the parts of the cloud stack under customer control can make cloud computing a highly efficient way for naive users to leverage poor practices”, which in turn can easily result in widespread security or compliance failures – with the growing recognition of the enterprise’s responsibility for the appropriate use of the public cloud reflected in the growing market for cloud control tools. Gartner states that by 2018, 50 per cent of enterprises with more than 1,000 users will use cloud access security broker products to monitor and manage their use of SaaS and other forms of public cloud, reflecting growing recognition that although clouds are usually secure, secure use of public clouds requires explicit effort on the part of the cloud customer.