Gartner: Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020

Gartner: Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020

Gartner: Hyperautomation, AI-based security, distributed cloud computing and intelligent edge systems will be all the rage

Credit: Arthur Ogleznev / Unsplash

ORLANDO – The pace of technology change is accelerating rapidly, augmented by factors that IT pros need to study-up on, things they never had to deal with before like hyperautomation, multiexperience, and human augmentation that Gartner says will have a significant impact on enterprises.

"It's been 50 years since the first message was sent across what became the internet. In 50 years we've seen technology transform our enterprises, our relationships, and society itself,” said Val Sribar, senior research vice president at Gartner. “The next five years may bring as much change as those last 50."

Looking ahead just on year, Gartner created the “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020,” which the consulting firm released at its IT Symposium/XPO 2019 here this week.

One unifying factor of these trends is the focus on the direct impact technology will have on people.

“Putting people at the center of your technology strategy highlights one of the most important aspects of technology – how it impacts customers, employees, business partners, society or other key constituencies,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “Arguably all actions of the organization can be attributed to how it impacts these individuals and groups either directly or indirectly. This is a people-centric approach.”

Here are the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020 that Gartner identified:


Hyperautomation is the combination of multiple machine-learning (ML), packaged-software and automation tools to deliver work. Hyperautomation refers not only to the breadth of tools available, but also to all the steps of automation itself (discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor and reassess), Cearly said. Understanding the range of automation mechanisms, how they relate to one another and how they can be combined and coordinated is a major focus for hyperautomation. Hyperautomation requires a combination of tools to help support replicating pieces of where the human is involved in a task.


Through 2028, the user experience will undergo a significant shift in how users perceive the digital world and how they interact with it. Conversational platforms with improved voice-driven and dialogue-management capabilities are changing the way that people interact with the digital world. And virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are changing the way in which people perceive the digital world This shift in both interaction and perception models leads to a future multisensory and multimodal experience.

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

“The model will shift from one of technology-literate people to one of people-literate technology. The burden of translating intent will move from the user to the computer,” said Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner.  “This ability to communicate with users across many human senses will provide a richer environment for delivering nuanced information.”

Democratization of expertise

Gartner defines democratization as providing people with access to technical expertise such as machine learning or application development tools or business domain expertise such as sales process and economic analysis via a radically simplified experience and without requiring extensive and costly training. Citizen access for citizen data scientists or citizen integrators, for example, as well as the evolution of citizen development and no-code models, are examples of democratization, the company stated.   

Through 2023, Gartner said it expects four key aspects of the democratization trend to accelerate, including democratization of data and analytics (tools targeting data scientists expanding to target the professional developer community), democratization of development (AI tools to leverage in custom-developed applications), democratization of design (expanding on the low-code, no-code phenomena with automation of additional application development functions to empower the citizen-developer) and democratization of knowledge (non-IT professionals gaining access to tools and expert systems that empower them to use and apply specialized skills.

Human augmentation

Gartner says human augmentation explores how technology can be used to deliver cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human experience. Physical augmentation enhances humans by changing their inherent physical capabilities by implanting in or hosting a technology element on their bodies. Cognitive augmentation can occur through accessing information and exploiting applications on traditional computer systems and the emerging multiexperience interface in smart spaces.

Over the next 10 years increasing levels of physical and cognitive human augmentation will become prevalent as individuals seek personal enhancements. By 2025, 40 percent of enterprises will shift from designing for humans to architecting humans themselves by adopting human augmentation technologies and methodologies, Gartner says.

Transparency and traceability

Gartner says transparency and traceability refer to a range of attitudes, actions and supporting technologies and practices designed to address regulatory requirements, preserve an ethical approach to use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, and repair the growing lack of trust in companies. As organizations build out transparency and trust practices, they must focus on three areas: AI and ML; personal data privacy, ownership and control; and ethically aligned design. Consumers are increasingly aware that their personal information is valuable and are demanding control. Organizations recognize the increasing risk of securing and managing personal data, and governments are implementing strict legislation to ensure they do. Transparency and traceability are critical elements to support these digital ethics and privacy needs, Gartner said.  By 2023, over 75 percent of large organizations will hire artificial intelligence specialists in behavior forensics, privacy and customer trust to reduce brand and reputation risk, the company said.

The empowered edge

Edge computing is a computing topology in which information processing and content collection and delivery are placed closer to the sources, repositories and consumers of this information. The idea is to keep traffic and processing local to reduce latency and allow greater autonomy at the edge. “Much of the current focus on edge computing comes from the need for IoT systems to deliver disconnected or distributed capabilities into the embedded IoT world for specific industries such as manufacturing or retail,” said Burke. “However, edge computing will become a dominant factor across virtually all industries and use cases as the edge is empowered with increasingly more sophisticated and specialized compute resources and more data storage. Complex edge devices, including robots, drones, autonomous vehicles and operational systems will accelerate this shift.”  By 2023, more than 50 percent of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud, up from less than 10 percent in 2019.

Distributed Cloud

A distributed cloud is the distribution of public cloud services to different locations while the originating public-cloud provider assumes responsibility for the operation, governance, updates to and evolution of the services. Gartner defines this distributed cloud as where a public-cloud service architecture is replicated on-premises or is complimentary to the centralized service. The service provider owns and is responsible for architecture, development, deployment, governance, operations, evolution and update. Enterprise customers may retain ownership, governance, operations, and update of the physical components especially as distributed services move toward the edge. By 2024, the majority of cloud service platforms will provide services that execute at the point of need, Gartner stated. This represents a significant shift from the centralized model of most public-cloud services and will lead to a new era in  cloud computing

Autonomous Things

Autonomous things are physical devices that use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans, Gartner says. The most recognizable forms of autonomous things are robots, drones, autonomous vehicles/ships and appliances. Their automation goes beyond the automation provided by rigid programing models, and they exploit AI to deliver advanced behaviors that interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people. As the technology capability improves, regulation permits and social acceptance grows, autonomous things will increasingly be deployed in uncontrolled public spaces.

“As autonomous things proliferate, we expect a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things where multiple devices will work together, either independently of people or with human input,” said Burke. “For example, heterogeneous robots can operate in a coordinated assembly process. In the delivery market, the most effective solution may be to use an autonomous vehicle to move packages to the target area. Robots and drones aboard the vehicle could then affect final delivery of the package.”

Practical blockchain

Blockchain has the potential to reshape industries by enabling trust, providing transparency and enabling value exchange across business ecosystems, potentially lowering costs, reducing transaction settlement times and improving cash flow. Assets can be traced to their origin, significantly reducing the opportunities for substitutions with counterfeit goods. Asset tracking has value in other areas, such as tracing food across a supply chain to more easily identify the origin of contamination or track individual parts to assist in product recalls. Another area in which blockchain has potential is identity management. Smart contracts can be programmed into blockchains where events can trigger actions. For example, payment is released when goods are received.  By 2023, blockchain inspired technology will support the global movement and tracking of $2 trillion of goods and services annually

Blockchain remains immature for enterprise deployments due to a range of technical issues including poor scalability and interoperability. Despite these challenges, the significant potential for disruption and revenue generation means organizations should begin evaluating blockchain, even if they don’t anticipate aggressive adoption of the technologies in the near term,” said Burke.

AI Security

Gartner says AI and ML will continue to be applied to augment human decision making across a broad set of use cases. While this creates great opportunities to enable hyperautomation and leverage autonomous things to deliver business transformation, it creates significant new challenges for the security team with a massive increase in potential points of attack with IoT, cloud computing, microservices and highly connected systems in smart spaces. Security and risk leaders should focus on three key areas – protecting AI-powered systems, leveraging AI to enhance security defense, and anticipating nefarious use of AI by attackers.  Through 2022, 30 percent of all cyberattacks will leverage training-data poisoning, AI model theft or adversarial examples, Gartner said.

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