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  • carlodevlieger

Today's tech drives disruption

Strategic technology trends have the potential both to create opportunity and to drive significant disruption.Enterprise leaders must evaluate these top trends to determine how combinations of trends can power their innovation strategies.


Key Findings

  • Strategic technology trends have significant potential to create and respond to disruption and to power both transformation and optimization initiatives.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is a foundational catalyst for advanced process automation and human augmentation and engagement.

  • Physical environments including factories, offices and cities will become “smart spaces” within which people will interact through multiple touchpoints and sensory channels for an increasingly ambient experience.

  • Dealing with privacy, digital ethics and security challenges generated by AI, the Internet of Things (IoT)/edge, and other evolving technologies will become critical to maintain trust and avoid legal entanglements.


Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must:

  • Center their innovation efforts on people and use tools such as personas, journey maps, technology radars, and roadmaps to evaluate opportunities, challenges and time frames for adoption.

  • Build an overarching view across functional and process silos and exploit a complementary set of tools including RPA, iBPMS, DTO, application development, and AI domains that guide how the tools are used and the systems they create are integrated.

  • Embrace multiexperience and implement development platforms and design principles to support conversational, immersive and increasingly ambient experiences.

  • Establish governance principles, policies, best practices and technology architectures to increase transparency and trust regarding data and the use of AI.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

- By 2022, 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies for consumer and enterprise use, and 25% will have deployed them to production.

- By 2022, 35% of large businesses in the training and simulation industry will evaluate and adopt immersive solutions, up from less than 1% in 2019.

- By 2021, at least one-third of enterprises will have deployed a multiexperience development platform to support mobile, web, conversational and augmented reality development.

- By 2024 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives.

- By 2022, at least 40% of new application development projects will have artificial intelligence co-developers on the team.

- By 2021, automation of data science tasks will enable citizen data scientists to produce a higher volume of advanced analysis than specialized data scientists.

- By 2025, a scarcity of data scientists will no longer hinder the adoption of data science and machine learning in organizations.

- By 2022, 30% of organizations using AI for decision making will contend with shadow AI as the biggest risk to effective and ethical decisions.

- Through 2023, 30% of IT organizations will extend BYOD policies with “bring your own enhancement” (BYOE) to address augmented humans in the workforce.

- By 2020, we expect that companies that are digitally trustworthy will generate 20% more online profit than those that aren’t.

- By 2020, we expect that 4% of network-based mobile communications service providers (CSPs) globally will launch the 5G network commercially.

- By 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some services that execute at the point of need.

- By 2023, blockchain will be scalable technically, and will support trusted private transactions with the necessary data confidentiality.

- Through 2022, over 75% of data governance initiatives will not adequately consider AI’s potential security risks and their implications, resulting in quantifiable financial loss.

- Through 2022, 30% of all AI cyberattacks will leverage training-data poisoning, AI model theft or adversarial samples to attack AI-powered systems.


Adds2marketing's top 10 strategic technology trends (see Figure 1) highlight trends that enterprises need to consider as part of their five-year strategic technology planning process. These trends have a profound impact on people and the spaces they inhabit. Strategic trends have broad impact across industries and geographies, with significant potential for disruption. In many cases, the trends aren’t yet widely recognized or the conventional wisdom regarding the trends is shifting. Through 2025, technologies related to these trends will experience significant changes, cross critical tipping points and reach new levels of maturity that expand and enable repeatable use cases and reduce risk. Technology innovation leaders must examine the business impact of our top 10 strategic technology trends and seize the opportunities to enhance existing, or create new, processes, products and business models. Prepare for the impact of these trends — they will transform industries and your business.

The top 10 strategic technology trends are a critical ingredient in driving a continuous innovation process as part of a ContinuousNext strategy.1 Technology innovation leaders must adopt a mindset and new practices that accept and embrace perpetual change. That change may be incremental or radical, and may be applied to existing or new business models and technologies.

Technology is changing people’s lives, enabling the ongoing digitalization of business and driving organizations to continually refresh their business models. In this long march to digitalization, technology is amplifying continuous change at an ever-increasing velocity. Organizations need to consider how these strategic trends can be applied across two continuous and complementary cycles:

  • Continuous operations exploit technology to run the business today, modernize it and improve efficiency, and incrementally grow the business. Existing business models and technology environments set the stage upon which innovation opportunities are explored and will ultimately influence the cost, risk and success of implementing and scaling innovation efforts.

  • Continuous innovation exploits technology to transform the business and either create or respond to disruptions affecting the business. This innovation cycle looks at more radical changes to business models and supporting technologies as well as new business models and technologies that extend the current environment.

Trends and technologies do not exist in isolation. They build on and reinforce one another to create the digital world. Combinatorial innovation explores the way trends combine to build this greater whole. Individual trends and related technologies are combining to begin realizing the overall vision embodied in the intelligent digital mesh. For example, AI in the form of machine learning (ML) is combining with hyperautomation and edge computing to enable highly integrated smart buildings and city spaces. In turn, this enables further democratization of the use of technology as business users and customers self-serve to meet their individual needs. CIOs and IT leaders are challenged with a number of “and dilemmas” such as delivering existing services and innovating new services. You can turn “and dilemmas” into “and opportunities” by applying “and thinking,” where the combined effect of multiple trends coalescing is to produce new opportunities and drive new disruption. Combinatorial innovation is a hallmark of our top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020.

People-Centric Smart Spaces Build on the Intelligent Digital Mesh

The future will be characterized by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere. We call this the “intelligent digital mesh.” It can be described as:

  • The intelligent theme explores how AI — with a particular emphasis on machine learning — is seeping into virtually every existing technology and creating entirely new technology categories. The exploitation of AI will be a major battleground for technology providers through 2022. Using AI for well-scoped and targeted purposes delivers more flexible, insightful and increasingly autonomous systems.

  • The digital theme focuses on blending the digital and physical worlds to create a natural and immersive digitally enhanced experience. As the amount of data that things produce increases exponentially, compute power shifts to the edge to process stream data and send summary data to central systems. Digital trends, along with opportunities enabled by AI, are driving the next generation of digital business and the creation of digital business ecosystems. In this intelligent digital world, massive amounts of rich and varied data are generated, thus necessitating a greater focus on digital ethics and privacy and on the transparency and traceability that they require.

  • The mesh theme refers to exploiting connections between an expanding set of people and businesses — as well as devices, content and services — to deliver digital business outcomes. The mesh demands new capabilities that reduce friction, provide in-depth security and respond to events across these connections.

Intelligent digital mesh has been a consistent theme of Adds2marketing’s strategic technology trends for the past few years, and it will continue as an important underlying force over the next five years. However, this theme focuses on the set of technical characteristics of the trend. It is also important to put the trends in the context of the people and organizations that will be impacted. Rather than building a technology stack and then exploring the potential applications, organizations must consider the business and human context first. We call this “people-centric smart spaces” and this structure is used to organize and evaluate the primary impact of the strategic trends for 2020

By putting people at the center of your technology strategy you are highlighting one of the most important aspects of technology — how it impacts your customers, employees, business partners, society or other key constituencies.3 A people-centric approach should start with understanding these key target constituencies and the journey they undertake to interact with or support your organization. This is the first step to understanding how and where you will apply strategic technology trends to drive desired business outcomes:

  • Personas: The persona is a useful tool to describes a target individual or group. The persona encapsulates a set of motivations, preferences, biases, needs, wants, desires and other characteristics that can be used as a backdrop to evaluate how applications of technology might impact that group. Personas have been used for many years and have gained broadest adoption in design and marketing areas, where understanding the motivations of a target audience are particularly important.4 The persona sets the context for evaluating the potential impact on people and the resulting business outcome. Personas can be used to anticipate the valuable business moments that emerge as people traverse technology-enabled smart spaces.5 Persona-based analysis is a powerful tool that helps leaders diagnose and take action against digital-business-disruption opportunities. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders can help business and IT leaders to consider the human side of digital business strategy decisions with personas.

  • Journey Maps: A second useful tool is the defining of “journey maps.” A journey map is a model that shows the stages that target personas go through to accomplish a task or complete a process. Customer journey maps diagram the stages a customer might go through to buy products, access customer service, or complain about a company on social networks. One can also consider internal journey maps that diagram the stages employees go through in onboarding or in complying with a regulatory requirement. Journey maps that look at how multiple constituencies interact around a process are even more powerful. For example, a journey map for a customer purchase might consider not only the customer view, but also that of a salesperson or a fulfillment group. Journey maps provide even more concrete context for technology-driven innovation. Technology innovation professionals should consider the pain points, inefficiencies, gaps, and opportunities to delight and create new digital business moments for all the relevant constituents.

The concept of smart spaces builds on the people-centric notion. People exist in spaces such as their homes, their cars, an office building, a conference room, a hospital or a city. A smart space is a physical environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. Multiple elements — including people, processes, services and things — come together in a smart space to create a more immersive, interactive and automated experience for a target set of personas. Journey maps should consider not only the motivations of relevant personas and the desired business outcomes, but also the spaces that people will traverse as part of their interactions in the digital world.

People-centric smart spaces represent the core target for applying technology trends. Surrounding this focus, technology innovation leaders should consider a concentric ring of trends that progress from those that directly touch the human to those that are more hidden with a derivative impact. Thinking of the technology environment from the center out, proceeding from people and ultimately focusing on the back-end infrastructure, is a subtle but useful shift from the traditional bottom-up view of a technology stack. Driving architecture from the center out ensures requirements at each level are driven by business outcomes and the architecture is inherently more adaptable:

  • People interact with others and with the digital spaces through edge devices and multiple user experiences (interfaces) across these edge devices as a natural part of their everyday lives.

  • Applications, services, and ecosystems deliver value to people in those spaces through edge devices and experiences.

  • Development tools, digital platforms, data, AI/ML services, integration and related technologies are used to create the applications and services that deliver value through edge devices. These tools provide a dynamic, flexible and modular foundation to create the applications, services and ecosystems.

  • Infrastructure, operations, networking and security are the foundation upon which the technology-enabled world is built. It must deliver value at each layer as it ultimately supports people.

Our top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020 are organized into people-centric and smart spaces categories. This is a loose organization intended to convey where the primary impact and manifestation of the trend will be seen. However, virtually all of the trends will have an impact on both the people and smart spaces concepts.

  • People-Centric:

    • Hyperautomation deals with the application of advanced technologies including AI and machine learning to increasingly automate processes and augment humans.

    • Multiexperience deals with the way that people perceive, interact and control the digital world across a wide range of devices and sensory touchpoints.

    • Democratization explores how to create a simplified model for people to consume digital systems and tap into automated expertise beyond their training or experience.

    • Human augmentation explores how humans are physically and cognitively augmented by these systems.

    • Transparency and traceability focuses on the data privacy and digital ethics challenges and the application of design, operational principles, and technologies to increase transparency and traceability to enhance trust.

  • Smart Spaces:

    • Empowered edge emphasizes how the spaces around us are increasingly populated by sensors and devices that connect people to one another and to digital services.

    • Distributed cloud examines a major evolution in cloud computing where the applications, platforms, tools, security, management and other services are physically shifting from a centralized data center model to one in which the services are distributed and delivered at the point of need. The point of need can extend into customer data centers or all the way to the edge devices.

    • Autonomous things explores how physical things in the spaces around people are enhanced with greater capabilities to perceive, interact, move, and manipulate these spaces with various levels of human guidance, autonomy and collaboration.

    • Practical blockchain focuses on how blockchain can be leveraged in practical enterprise use cases that are expanding over the next three to five years.

    • AI security deals with the reality of securing the AI-powered systems that are behind the people-centric trends.

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