Top 10 Technology Trends To Watch: Forrester Research
Forrester Research just published The Top 10 Technology Trends To Watch: 2018 To 2020. Ten trends, which Forrester breaks into three phases of dawning, awareness, and acceptance, are setting the pace of technology-driven business change.
In the dawning phase, a few innovators experiment with new technology-enabled business models and exploit emerging technologies. In the awareness phase, change agents leverage the accelerating returns of evolving technology to steal customers, improve the bottom line, and inflict massive impacts on industries. In the acceptance phase, surviving enterprises finally make the tough changes necessary to fight disruptors.
Computing goes to the edge
The internet of things (IoT) shifts computing toward the edge. Firms in the vanguard of this trend will use edge computing to build distributed applications that close the gap between data, insight, and action, and will engage customers more quickly and squeeze new efficiencies out of their processes. Exploiting computing power on the edge will give them an actual edge. It is another phase in the continuous pendulum swing between centralized computing and distributed computing.
By 2020, Forrester predicts, “a few leaders emerge from the pilot phase with integrated solutions that help them intelligently serve customers.”
Blockchain spreads to many markets
In another manifestation of power moving to the periphery, distributed trust systems—systems of methods, technologies, and tools that support a distributed, tamper-evident, and reliable way to ensure transaction integrity, irrefutability, and nonrepudiation—challenge centralized authorities. Applications of blockchain go beyond cryptocurrencies to attack any market in which assets have to be tracked across owners. Maersk, for example, plans to use blockchain to build a distributed trust system to track shipments for customers and regulators. Forrester doesn’t believe secure blockchain and other distributed trust systems will eliminate the need for brokers and intermediaries. But they will change the function of those coordinating companies away from transaction brokering and toward services that use the technology to solve new transaction problems — such as managing onboarding, identity tracking, compliance reporting, and relationship management.
By 2019, Forrester predicts, “a viable blockchain-based market will be commercialized.”
Cybersecurity at scale
Early successes and increasing vendor capabilities will accelerate the automation of security breach detection and response, leveraging internal and external threat intelligence data. Automated remediation is likely to follow. Security automation and orchestration (SAO) will unshackle the chief information security officer’s team from repetitive, manual tasks, giving analysts more time for higher-value work. It will also help address the dearth of cybersecurity professionals.
Employee-centric application development
Successfully engaging customers starts at home. Few firms currently focus on employee experience in their application development, and global employee engagement levels haven’t improved in Gallup’s 17 years of keeping track. Good employee experience, however, serves as a platform for employees to deliver superior customer value through their engagement, service delivery, communication, learning, collaboration, and talent development. Mobile, social collaboration, AI, machine learning, and other technologies will transform the employee experience to consumer-grade standards.
By 2020, Forrester predicts, “firms successful with employee experience systems of engagement will experiment with personalized employee experience.”
Software learns to learn
Models will monitor and retrain themselves in the public cloud, allowing software systems to be trained instead of programmed. With improvements in AI, software systems that we used to have to program with rules are learning how to learn on their own. But, Forrester cautions, don’t expect miracles by 2020 as talent and technology will remain big constraints. Your machine learning and AI aspirations depend on data, but if you don’t know where it is, what it is, and how to get at it, you are in for trouble.
By 2019, Forrester predicts, “machine learning services and deep learning platforms mature to accelerate self-training models.”
Digital employees enter the white-collar workforce
Nearly half of all jobs face losses to automation from software robots that complete increasingly complex tasks. Humans will work alongside software robots, and leaders will manage workforces that are part robot and part human. Many enterprises, however, lack an integrated approach to mining the value of white-collar automation. Repeatable tasks that search, collate, update, access multiple systems, and make simple decisions provide today’s best targets for automation. But…it’s dangerous to let the software make decisions entirely unsupervised. Not only must people be trained on the human-machine interface, but experts must continue to monitor critical tasks.
Insights-driven firms outpace competitors
Insights-driven businesses, designed for continuous measurement and optimization, will outpace the competition. The quest to use big data as a competitive asset has sparked a $27 billion industry; Hadoop and Spark initiated this, but it’s rapidly expanding into services and the cloud. Amid the data gold rush, a new kind of firm — the insights-driven business — is slowly emerging that approaches data analytics differently. Instead of focusing on data, these firms emphasize implementing insights in software and continuously learning.
By 2019, Forrester predicts, “many data lakes crumble, and data strategy work stalls. More firms learn insights-driven lessons.”
Customer experience becomes immersive
Top firms will further fuse digital and physical experiences, employing new business models to do so. The boundaries between the human, digital, physical, and virtual realms are blurring as customer experience becomes more immersive. Customer-obsessed firms are integrating systems of insight and systems of engagement that interconnect people, places, and objects with data to improve customer experience and forge two-way, value-driven relationships. Leaders will focus on the human experience and invest significantly to integrate technology into the physical experiences of both customers and employees. Forrester expects significant growth in the use of technologies that fuse digital and physical experiences via mobile devices, such as image recognition, gestures, voice, and augmented reality.
By 2019, Forrester predicts, “firms will augment physical experiences with emerging digital technologies.”
Contextual privacy boosts brand value
Consumers are concerned about data security and privacy, forcing transparency in firms’ data collection and use practices. Top firms will look beyond risk reduction and compliance, employing contextual privacy to drive retention and loyalty. Contextual privacy is a business practice in which the collection and use of personal data is consensual, within a mutually agreed-upon context, for a mutually agreed-upon purpose. It requires business collaboration and support for processes like classifying data as well as understanding the value of the data to the business, the data’s useful life cycle, and the company’s obligations for data protection and handling.
By 2020, Forrester predicts, “customer-obsessed firms will recognize contextual privacy as a competitive differentiator for long-term loyalty.”