Top strategic predictions for IT organizations and users in 2019 and beyond

Gartner revealed its top predictions for 2019 and beyond. Gartner’s top predictions examine three fundamental effects of continued digital innovation: artificial intelligence (AI) and skills, cultural advancement, and processes becoming products that result from increased digital capabilities and the emergence of continuous conceptual change in technology.

strategic predictions 2019

“As the advance of technology concepts continues to outpace the ability of enterprises to keep up, organizations now face the possibility that so much change will increasingly seem chaotic. But chaos does not mean there is no order. The key is that CIOs will need to find their way to identifying practical actions that can be seen within the chaos,” said Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner Fellow, Distinguished.

“Continuous change can be made into an asset if an organization sharpens its vision in order to see the future coming ahead of the change that vision heralds. Failing that, there must be a focus on a greater effort to see the need to shift the mindset of the organization. With either of these two methods, practical actions can be found in even the seemingly unrelated predictions of the future.”

Through 2020, 80% of AI projects will remain alchemy, run by wizards whose talents won’t scale widely in the organization

In the last five years, the increasing popularity of AI techniques has facilitated the proliferation of projects across a wide number of organizations worldwide. However, change is still outpacing the production of competent AI professionals. When it comes to AI techniques, the needed talent is not only technically demanding, mathematically savvy data scientists to inventive data engineers, and rigorous operation research professionals to shrewd logisticians, are needed.

“The large majority of existing AI techniques talents are skilled at cooking a few ingredients, but very few are competent enough to master a few recipes — let alone invent new dishes,” said Mr. Plummer. “Through 2020, a large majority of AI projects will remain craftily prepared in artisan IT kitchens. The premises of a more systematic and effective production will come when organizations stop treating AI as an exotic cuisine and start focusing on business value first.”

By 2021, 75% of public blockchains will suffer “privacy poisoning” — inserted personal data that renders the blockchain noncompliant with privacy laws

Companies that implement blockchain systems without managing privacy issues by design run the risk of storing personal data that can’t be deleted without compromising chain integrity. A public blockchain is a pseudo-anarchic autonomous system such as the internet. Nobody can sue the internet, or make it accountable for the data being transmitted. Similarly, a public blockchain can’t be made accountable for the content it bears.

Any business operating processes using a public blockchain must maintain a copy of the entire blockchain as part of its systems of record. A public blockchain poisoned with personal data can’t be replaced, anonymized and/or structurally deleted from the shared ledger. Therefore, the business will be unable to resolve its needs to keep records with its obligations to comply with privacy laws.

By 2023, there will be an 80% reduction in missing people in mature markets compared with 2018 due to AI face recognition

Over the next few years, facial matching and 3D facial imaging will become important elective aspects of capturing data about vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly or people who are otherwise impaired. Such measures will reduce the number of missing people without adding large numbers of dramatic discoveries in large public crowds, which is the popularly imagined environment. The most important advances will take place with more robust image capture, image library development, image analysis strategy and public acceptance. Additionally, with improved on-device/edge AI capability on cameras, public and private sectors will be able to prefilter necessary image data instead of sending all video streams to cloud for processing.

By 2023, U.S. emergency department visits will be reduced by 20 million due to enrollment of chronically ill patients in AI-enhanced virtual care

Clinician shortages, particularly in rural and some urban areas, are driving healthcare providers to look for new approaches to delivering care. In many cases, virtual care has shown it can offer care more conveniently and cost-effectively than conventional face-to-face care. Gartner research shows that successful use of virtual care helps control costs, improves quality of delivery and improves access to care. Without change, the traditionally rigid physical care delivery methods will increasingly render healthcare providers noncompetitive. This transition will not come easily, and will require modification of cultural attitudes and healthcare financial models.

By 2023, 25% of organizations will require employees to sign an affidavit to avoid cyberbullying, but 70 percent of these initiatives will fail

To prevent actions that have a detrimental impact on the organization’s reputation, employers want to strengthen employee behavioral guidelines (such as anti-harassment and discrimination norms) when using social media. Signing an affidavit of agreement to refrain from cyberbullying is a logical next step. Alternatively, legacy code of conduct agreements should be updated to incorporate cyberbullying.

“However, cyberbullying isn’t stopped by signing an agreement; it’s stopped by changing culture,” said Mr. Plummer. “That culture change should include teaching employees how to recognize what cyberbullying is and provide a means of reporting it when they see it. Formulate realistic policies that balance deterrence measures and strict definition, regulation or behavior monitoring. Make sure employees understand why these measures are needed and how they benefit the organization and themselves.”

Through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting diversity and an inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets

Business leaders across all functions understand the positive business impact of diversity and inclusion (D&I). A key business requirement currently is the need for better decisions made fast at the lowest level possible, ideally at the frontline. To create inclusive teams, organizations need to move beyond obvious diversity cues such as gender and race, to seek out people with diverse work styles and thought patterns. A final key factor to ensure D&I initiatives directly contribute to business results is to manage scale and employee engagement with them. There are numerous technologies that can significantly enhance the scale and effectiveness of interventions to diagnose the current state of inclusion, develop leaders who foster inclusion and embed inclusion into daily business execution.

By 2023, ePrivacy regulations will increase online costs by minimizing the use of “cookies” thus crippling the current internet ad revenue machine

GDPR and upcoming legislation, including The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 and ePrivacy continue to limit the use of cookies and put greater pressure on what constitutes informed consent. An individual may not be able to simply accept the use of cookies, as they do now, but, will have to give explicit consent to what the cookie track and how that tracking will be used.

“None of the current nor future regulations will be a 100 percent prohibition on personalized ads. However, the legislation does cripple the current internet advertising infrastructure and the players within,” said Mr. Plummer. “The current ad revenue machine is an intricate overlapping of companies that are able to track individuals, compile personal data, analyze, predict and target advertisements. By interrupting the data flow, as well as causing some use to be illegal, the delicate balance of service and provision, that has been built-up over decades of free use of data, is at the very least, upset.”

Through 2022, a fast path to digital will be converting internal capabilities to external revenue-generating products using cloud economics and flexibility

For years, internal IT organizations that developed unique capabilities wanted to take them to market to generate value for their organizations, but economic, technical and other issues did not allow this to happen. Cloud infrastructure and cloud services providers change all of these dynamics. Capacity for supporting scale of the application solution is the cloud provider’s responsibility. Market-dominant app stores take over distribution and aspects of marketing. Simpler, accessible cloud tools make the support and enhancement of applications as products easier. Cloud also shifts the impacts on internal financial statements from below the line to above the line areas. As more aggressive companies convert internal processes and data into marketable solutions and start to report digital revenue gains, other organizations will follow suit.

By 2022, companies leveraging the “gatekeeper” position of the digital giants will capture 40 percent global market share, on average, in their industry

Global market share of the top four firms by industry fell by four percentage points between 2006 and 2014 as European firms, likely weakened and distracted by economic and monetary crises, lost market share to a rising group of emerging market firms, particularly those from China.

“We believe this is about to change as the powerful economics of scale and network effects assert themselves on a global basis. Innovations in digital technology are producing an ever greater density of connections, even more value from the intelligence captured across those connections (such as through machine learning and AI) and greater immediacy of exchange between connections (such as through faster data transmission speeds),” said Mr. Plummer.

But the path to achieving and sustaining a dominant market share position globally is likely to lead to and through one or more of the digital giants (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) and their ecosystems. These giants already command massive consumer share and have begun to use their “gatekeeper” positions and infrastructure to enter the B2B space as well. They are keenly aware of the trend to connect, are leading the advance into capabilities such as AI, and have aggressively taken actions to invade the “physical world” and make it part of their digital world — a world they control.

Through 2021, social media scandals and security breaches will have effectively zero lasting consumer impact

The core point of this prediction is that the benefits of using digital technologies outweigh potential, but unknown, future risks. Consumer adoption of digital technologies will continue to grow, and backlash of organizations taking technology too far will be short term.

“For the last five years, multiple issues have arisen every year, in each case leading to significant coverage in the media, but the ramifications have been minimal. A main reason is the lack of choice and competition,” said Mr. Plummer. “The ‘network effect,’ which makes it hard to switch to a different service because everybody is using the service, has proven to be very powerful. Even with a negative sentiment there has been no change so far. Why would the next years be different?”

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