Leading global research firm Gartner recently released an interesting report outlining the most significant trends they see shaping business and industry in the near future. “Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2021 and Beyond” was presented by Distinguished VP Analyst Daryl Plummer at this year’s virtual Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo® 2020. The presentation takes the view that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted businesses and global economies in unprecedented ways, but it also forced organizations to consider a different type of future. Gartner says it became clear that businesses need a reset, not only due to the pandemic but because technological advances demand it. “Technologies are being stretched to their limits,” says Plummer, which means the next rebound of innovation and efficiency will be found in nontraditional approaches. Below is a summary of the 10 strategies the report identifies. The full presentation can be found HERE.
Farm and factories face automation: Currently, a lot of people touch products and produce before they reach their ultimate destination, but automated factories and farms will soon do most of the work, including farming, picking, packing and shipping. Again, COVID-19 has acted as an accelerator, driving the industry to find new and improved ways of getting food and products to consumers. Additionally, as the technology continues to evolve, offering better automated factories will one day act as a competitive advantage. By 2025, Garner says customers will be the first humans to touch more than 20% of the products and produce in the world rather than those in the supply chain.
Traditional technology tanks: By 2025, Gartner forecasts traditional computing technologies will hit a digital wall, forcing the shift to new computing paradigms such as neuromorphic computing — a computer that thinks and acts more like the human brain. As these new technologies mature, they will become increasingly available and more affordable for businesses to begin experimentation.
DNA storage becomes a reality: People are collecting exponential amounts of data, more than has ever been collected before. Increasingly, the main challenge is not collecting the data — it’s storing it long term in a safe way. DNA storage enables the storage of binary digital data in the double helix, which has enormous capacity – it’s estimated a year’s worth of human knowledge could be stored in a gram of synthetic DNA for thousands of years. By 2024, Gartner forecasts that 30% of digital businesses will be mandating DNA storage trials, addressing the exponential growth of data poised to overwhelm existing storage technology.
Physical experiences expand: As the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, digital twins and other technologies evolve, immersive experiences are now more affordable, and more fun. At the same time, COVID-19 transformed attitudes about physical versus virtual, and changed the discussion about what people can do without physically being present or putting their safety at risk. By 2025, Gartner projects 40% of physical-experiences businesses will improve financial results and outperform competitors by extending into paid virtual.
CIOs become chief operating officers (COOs): A large percentage of end-user businesses do not have a COO, a vital role in digital acceleration. This is someone who understands the business and ecosystem and how to implement technology for greater impact. By 2024, 25% of traditional large-enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results, effectively becoming “COO by proxy.”
Record work conversations drive change: Every piece of technology, from smart speakers to virtual meetings to messaging platforms, now records conversations. By 2025, 75% of conversations at work will be recorded and analyzed, enabling the discovery of added organizational value or risk.
Freelance customer service experts increase: Everyone has experienced the frustration of a bad customer service setup, and many turn to outside help (Google, YouTube, Facebook) to navigate tricky situations. In fact, Gartner predicts that through 2021, there will be a 15% rise in customers seeking outside help after being frustrated by traditional support channels. By 2025, Gartner predicts businesses will pay a freelance customer service expert to resolve 75% of their customer service issues.
Voice of society metric matters: The “voice of society” is the shared perspective of people in a community. Sentiment analysts, media metrics figures and contributions to society measurements will matter in 2021, and opinion metrics are now as reliable as click-through analysis. By 2024, Gartner sees 30% of major organizations using a new voice of society metric to act on societal issues and assess the impacts to their business performance.
On-site childcare entices employees: Worker demand for childcare is still an unmet need, and the impact of COVID-19 on the number of available childcare centers is not to be underestimated. Gartner predicts that by early 2021, 20% of private childcare centers will have closed permanently, leaving a dearth of qualified providers. The impact of this will be especially hard on women in the workforce. By 2023, Gartner forecasts large organizations will increase employee retention by more than +20% through repurposing office space as on-site childcare and education facilities.
Malicious content takes over: Any organizations that have an online presence, from social media to retailer platforms, face the challenge of how to deal with malicious content. Eventually, industry standards for content moderation will emerge, but in the meantime, CIOs must invest in content moderation services, enforcement and reporting. By 2024, Gartner says content moderation services for user-generated content will be surveyed as a top CEO priority by 30% of large organizations.