Here are some of the top predictions on the future of IT in 2017 and beyond, for HR professionals and business leaders to be aware of and initiate necessary plan of action. Gartner’s top predictions for 2017 examine three fundamental effects of continued digital innovation: experience and engagement, business innovation, and the secondary effects that result from increased digital capabilities.
“Gartner’s top strategic predictions continue to offer a provocative look at what might happen in some of the most critical areas of technology evolution. At the core of future outcomes is the notion of digital disruption, which has moved from an infrequent inconvenience to a consistent stream of change that is redefining markets and entire industries,” said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president, chief of research and Gartner Fellow.
“Last year, we said digital changes were coming fast. This year the acceleration continues and may cause secondary effects that have wide-ranging impact on people and technology.”
The popularity of augmented reality (AR) applications, such as Pokémon GO, will help bring AR into the mainstream, prompting more retailers to incorporate it into the shopping experience. As mobile device usage becomes an ingrained behaviour, further blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds, brands and their retail partners will need to develop mechanisms to leverage this behaviour to enhance the shopping experience.
Using AR applications to layer digital information — text, images, video and audio — on top of the physical world, represents one such route to deeper engagement, both in-store and in other locations. For example, a consumer pointing the IKEA catalog app at a room in his home can “place” furniture where he’d like it to go. This real-world element differentiates AR apps from those offering virtual reality (VR).
New audio-centric technologies, such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo, are making access to dialogue-based information ubiquitous and spawning new platforms based on “voice-first” interactions.
By eliminating the need to use ones’ hands and eyes for browsing, vocal interactions extend the utility of web sessions to contexts such as driving, cooking, walking, socialising, exercising and operating machinery. As a result, the share of waking hours devoid of instant access to online resources will approach zero.
Many brands are finding that the level of adoption, customer engagement and return on investment (ROI) delivered by their mobile applications are significantly less than the expectations that underpinned their app investment.
New approaches are emerging which have lower barrier to discovery and install, and offer levels of engagement that approach those of applications at a fraction of the investment, support and marketing cost. Many companies will evaluate these experiences against their under-performing applications and opt to reduce their losses by allowing their apps to expire.
Contextualisation algorithms have advanced exponentially to include a variety of behavioural interventions such as psychology, social neuroscience and cognitive science. Human beings tend to be emotionally charged and factually drained, causing them to be irrational.
Algorithms can positively alter that behaviour by augmenting their intelligence with the large collective memory bank containing knowledge that has been socialised and put to the test. This will help workers “remember” anything or be informed of just-in-time knowledge that they have never even experienced, leaving them to objectively complete the task at hand but also to better appreciate life as it unveils.
Use of algorithms can raise alarms of “creepiness,” however, when used to effect positive outcomes; it can bring about changes to multiple industries.
Blockchain technology is established as the next revolution in transaction recording. A blockchain ledger provides an immutable, shared view of all transactions between engaging parties. Parties can therefore immediately act on a committed blockchain record, secure in the knowledge that it cannot be changed.
Any kind of value exchange can happen in minutes, not days. Blockchain applications can free up cash, reduce transaction costs, and accelerate business processes. While blockchain development is still immature, it is attracting product and capital investment.
The current top-seven digital giants by revenue and market capitalisation are Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. As the physical, financial and healthcare world becomes more digital, many of the activities an individual engages in will be connected.
This convergence means that any activity could include one of the digital giants. Mobile apps, payment, smart agents (e.g., Amazon Alexa), and digital ecosystems (e.g., Apple HomeKit, WeChat Utility and City Services) will make the digital giants part of many of the activities we do.
For many enterprises, adopting a bimodal IT style to jump-start innovation has been a priority and critical first step. Close alignment of Mode 1 and 2 teams is crucial to the realisation of the digital business goals.
Unfortunately, the deployment costs of the Mode 2 “ideated solution” are not necessarily considered during ideation, and for most, the Mode 1 costs are not factored into the initial funding. Designing, implementing, integrating, operationalising and managing the ideated solution can be significantly more than the initial innovation costs. Thus, Gartner anticipates that for every $1 spent on the digital innovation/ideation phase, enterprises will spend on average $7 for deploying the solution.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has enormous potential for data generation across the roughly 21 billion endpoints expected to be in use in 2020. Of the roughly 900 exabytes worth of data centre hard-disk drive (HDD) and solid-state drive (SSD) capacity forecast to ship in 2020, IoT discrete sensor storage will represent only 0.4 percent, with storage from multimedia sensors consuming another 2 percent, for a rounded total of 2.3 percent. This indicates that IoT can scale and deliver important data-driven business value and insight, while remaining manageable from a storage infrastructure standpoint.
The IoT holds enormous promise in reducing the cost of maintenance and consumables. The challenge lies in providing a secure, robust implementation that can deliver savings over one or two decades, without driving management costs that absorb any savings made. This could be an inexpensive monitoring system based on simple sensors that report defining characteristics to analytical servers.
The analytics are used to spot patterns in the fleet data, and recommend maintenance based on actual usage and condition, not based on elapsed time or estimated condition. At the other extreme, there is the rise of the digital twin.
The digital twin captures near real-time data feeds from its sensor-enhanced real-world twin, and uses this along with other data sources (e.g., weather, historian data, algorithms, smart machine analysis) to update its simulation to reflect the physical state of the twin.
Companies will increasingly appoint fitness program managers to work closely with human resource leaders to include fitness trackers in wellness programs as part of a broader employee engagement initiative. Healthcare providers can save lives and downstream costs by acting on the data from wearable fitness trackers that show health risks to the user.
Wearables provide a wealth of data to be analysed either in real-time or in retrospect with the potential for doctors and other healthcare professionals to have access to both contextual and historical information, if the patient agrees to share it.
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