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Unpacking Gartner’s latest tech trends

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It is that time of year again when I like to #trendspot for the forthcoming year. And I’m always interested to read what Gartner predicts, so it was with great interest that I read their article titled Gartner Identifies the Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022. My initial thought was, “Wow, that is a lot of deep stuff for an organisation to think about going into 2022, especially with everything else going on!” But then my eye fell on the line in the conclusion which reads: “This year’s top strategic technology trends highlight those trends that will drive significant disruption and opportunity over the next five to 10 years.” That’s more like it! So, with that context in mind, below I’ve shared my views on the trends identified by Gartner.

Artificial intelligence

Gartner identified two artificial intelligence (AI)-related topics – generative AI and AI engineering. The former centres on machine learning methods that learn about content or objects from data, and use it to generate new, original, realistic artefacts. For its part, AI engineering is an integrated approach for operationalising AI models – effectively putting AI solutions into productions to realise the value that they have been developed for.

Even though generative AI is interesting, the challenge is that it can potential be misused for scams, fraud, political disinformation, and forged identities.

It is AI engineering that really excites me. It can be applied to wider range of solutions that include advanced analytics. Too often we see amazing analytical and AI solution developed and evaluated to potentially produce impressive results. However, businesses then fail to put the solutions into production practice by integrating them into their operational and business processes.

Data fabric

Out of all the trends, this is the one I am most enthusiastic about. According to Gartner, data fabric is about the flexible, resilient integration of data across platforms and business users. It has emerged to simplify an organisation’s data integration infrastructure and create a scalable architecture. This reduces the technical debt seen in most data and analytics teams due to rising integration challenges.

We all know how complex data management, data governance, and data integration can become over vastly differing technologies. This is even more so the case when these are managed by different vendors across siloed business lines. For me, data fabric must be on top of the priority list for any business.

Autonomic systems; Composable applications; Hyperautomation; and Total Experience

Several of the technologies listed by Gartner are focused on putting more adaptable solutions in place in a much shorter timeframe using a variety of automation techniques. This highlights how businesses cannot wait for solutions through year-long analysis, development, testing, and implementation cycles.

Of course, it might be relatively easy to reduce the technical time. The stakeholder time perhaps less so. Getting business users across a large, siloed organisation to agree on priorities, requirements, data standards, governance, security, and privacy can be a time-consuming task. Even just getting the right people around a virtual conference table is challenging. Now add Total Experience to the mix where we want to improve the experience across customers, employees, business managers, providers, and other stakeholders then it becomes clear that it is on the people-side of things where the most significant obstacle remains.

Decision intelligence

The way Gartner describes decision intelligence does not make it seem to be a new technology. Rather, it is the reword of approaches supported by technology. It makes me think back on scorecards, dashboards, alerts, early warning predictions, data visualisation and other approaches and technologies used in this field.

I feel that technologies can certainly help in the decision-making process, but it only addresses one side of the coin. The other aspect that needs attention is the psychology of decision-making. Different people have vastly different approaches to and styles of decision-making. Add to that the group dynamic often found in boardrooms, and you have a dream project for any business psychologist. It will still be some time before technology is intelligent enough to assist in that arena.

That’s a wrap

While I did not cover all the topics mentioned by Gartner, such as privacy and security technologies, my focus is more on the data side.

It will be interesting to watch the developments over the next few years to see how these technologies evolve and become adopted by organisations. Of course, as the famous saying goes, nothing is constant but change. We will no doubt see this list change and evolve over the years.

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