Technology, in all its guises, is changing the way we live and what exactly it means to be humans. From artificial intelligence (AI) to cryptocurrency and e-commerce, CIOs and IT leaders must ensure they are helping their organisations adapt in this rapidly changing world.
In Japan, a restaurant is trialling AI robotics technology to allow employees with limited mobility to remotely pilot robotic waiters. Companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and Ford are hosting virtual career fairs tailored to the needs of neurodiverse candidates. Enterprise Rent-A-Car has implemented braille-reader technology into its booking system for blind employees.
All of these are examples show how using AI increases accessibility at work, which is one of Gartner’s top 10 strategic predictions for 2020 and beyond. The predictions examine how technology is transforming what it means to be human, and IT service management leaders must be prepared to adapt in a changing environment.
As the digital age progresses, assumptions around the fixed nature of what defines humans is beginning to be challenged. Technology and its applications are poised to affect all aspects of humanity, and the conditions in which humans live.
1. BYOD becomes BYOE
Through 2023, almost a third of IT organisations will expand BYOD policies with “bring your own enhancement” (BYOE) to address augmented humans in the workforce. For IT, a temptation to assert control might increase as human augmentation technology becomes more prevalent, but the real business opportunity lies in exploiting increased interest in BYOE.
At present, the automotive and mining industries employ wearables to increase worker safety, while the travel and healthcare sectors use the technology to maximise productivity. As these technologies continue to evolve, organisations should begin to consider how physical augmentations can be harnessed in personal and professional lives. Endpoint security must be balanced with the organisational benefits of BYOE.
2. AI increases accessibility
By 2023, the number of people with disabilities in employment will triple, due to AI and other emerging technologies reducing barriers to access.
In the US, only 30% of the current labor force participants with disabilities are employed. The remaining 70% represents a huge untapped talent pool, particularly given that today’s hiring managers are warning about talent shortages and their potential effect on the future of organisations.
Requisite changes might range from the cultural (such as removing the term “stand-up” for meeting) to the technical (altering legacy systems to be more accessible). Organisations that actively employ people with disabilities boast 89% higher retention rates, a 72% increase in employee productivity, and a 29% increase in profitability. In addition, increased diversity means added perspectives. Employees with disabilities can view product development from a different lens, increasing the potential for a product that will appeal to a wider client base.
3. Online shopping identified as addiction
By 2024, the World Health Organisation will officially identify online shopping as an addictive disorder, in response to the millions who abuse digital commerce and encounter financial worry.
With increased access to consumer data, marketers can pinpoint exactly who will buy their product, and at what point in the buyer journey. As technology becomes ever more sophisticated, marketing will be able to predict what consumers want, how to price products, and where to position them with even greater accuracy.
But with this opportunity comes greater responsibility. As consumers purchase more and more products they don’t need and can’t afford, businesses will need to assume accountability, and warn potential buyers about shopping addictions – much like how US casinos must promote responsible gambling. Businesses might also come under increased pressure from governments and consumer groups to take responsibility for exploitative or irresponsible practices.
4. AI emotions drive ads
By 2024, AI identification of emotions will influence over half of all online advertisements.
As popularity of biometric-tracking sensors continues to soar and artificial emotional intelligence evolves, businesses will be capable of detecting consumer emotions and use this knowledge to increase sales. In addition to environmental and behaviour indicators, biometrics enable a far deeper level of hyperpersonalisation. Brands should be transparent about how they are collecting and using consumers’ data.
5. Internet of Behaviour links people and actions
By 2023, individual activities will be digitally tracked by an “Internet of Behaviour” to influence benefit and service eligibility for 40% of people worldwide.
The Internet of Behaviour (IoB) will be used to connect a person to their digital actions. For instance, linking your image as documented by facial recognition with an activity like buying a train ticket can be digitally tracked.
IoB will also be used in order to encourage or discourage particular sets of behaviours. For example, Allstate’s Drivewise and State Farm’s HiRoad programmes track driver behaviour in exchange for higher (i.e., speeding, unsafe driving) or lower (i.e., safe driving reasonable speed) insurance policies. However, there are some concerns for the ethical implications of expanding IoB to reward or punish certain behaviours with access (or lack thereof) to social services, such as schools or assisted housing.
6. Workers orchestrate business applications
By 2023, 40% of professional workers will conduct their business applications, experiences and capabilities in the same way they manage their music streaming services.
Historically, employees have been offered a ‘one-size-fits-all’ application solution by organisations, regardless of specific job descriptions or specific needs. In the future, business units or central IT will receive capabilities in building block form, enabling them to create individual ‘playlists’ of applications customised to specific employee needs and jobs.
7. Mobile cryptocurrency increases
By 2025, half of smartphone users without a bank account will use a mobile-accessible cryptocurrency account.
As marketplaces and social media platforms begin supporting cryptocurrency payments, much of the population will transition to mobile-accessible cryptocurrency accounts, with Africa expected to see the highest growth rates. The same cryptocurrency accounts will also drive e-commerce as trading partners emerge in areas previously unable to access capital markets.
8. Blockchain authenticates content
By 2023, up to 30% of the world’s news and video content will be deemed authentic by blockchain, in an effort to counter deep fake technology.
While fake news has existed for hundreds of years, social media bots have facilitated the rapid rise of deliberate disinformation. In additional to traditional news stories, technology is being used to create convincing fake audio and video. However, organisations and governments are now turning to technology to help counter fake news by using blockchain technology to authenticate photographs and video, since the technology creates an immutable and shared record of content that is ideally viewable to consumers.
9. G7 establishes AI oversight
By 2023, a self-regulating association for oversight of AI and machine learning designers will be established in at least four of the G7 countries.
AI technology is vulnerable to biases (both implicit and explicit), logic gaps and general algorithm complexities. When scales, these biases can affect entire groups of populations, with severe impact depending on the AI’s purpose. While regulating AI is a challenge, industries will be required to create standardisation around development and certification, as well as working towards a universal set of professional standards for ethical AI usage.
10. Digital innovation timelines double
Through 2021, digital information initiatives will take large traditional organisations twice as long and cost twice as much as initially envisaged.
Large organisations will struggle with innovating digitally as they recognise the challenges of modernising technology and the costs of simplifying operational interdependence. In contrast, smaller, more dexterous organisations will be in pole position to be first to market.
Daryl Plummer is a Distinguished Research VP and Gartner Fellow.
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