Among Gartner’s top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019 are blockchain, augmented analytics and digital twins. Underlying all the key trends are fueled by the mother of all technology trends: artificial intelligence, says the research firm.
As artificial intelligence continues to wend its way through enterprises, it will remain the most transformative trend in 2019, predicts Gartner Research. Gartner recently highlighted its picks for the top 10 strategic technology trends affecting enterprises. All 10 trends are informed by artificial intelligence (AI) to some extent.
Artificial intelligence is now being infused into most business operations and products, enabling processes to become more efficient and data-driven. Digital personal assistants can now schedule meetings and categorize email, AI-driven process can help optimize manufacturing lines and truck delivery routes; and AI can provide insight on appropriate investment strategies in financial services.
These real-world uses of enterprise AI indicate why the technology has become so pervasive—even amid some enterprise circumspection.
Figure 1 on worldwide growth of AI. Sources: Accenture, Frontier Economics. Statista 2017
Worldwide spending on cognitive and AI systems will reach $19.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 54.2% over the amount spent in 2017, according to IDC data. AI spending will grow to $52.2 billion by 2021, with a growth rate of 46% between 2016 and 2021. And according to the survey "Artificial Intelligence in Business Gets Real; Pioneering Companies Aim for AI at Scale," 66% of companies are implementing or exploring AI, while 34% have no interest in AI at this time. (See Figure 1 on worldwide growth of AI.)
Gartner says AI’s effect on business processes and outcomes is so extensive that enterprises have to take note of these developments today.
Gartner predicts that AI-driven devices, processes, products and services will converge to form “the intelligent digital mesh.” This convergence will result in the intertwining of people, devices and services to support more fluid, secure and digital business operations, bolstered by a “continuous innovation process.”
In 2017, Gartner identified AI and its impact on the intelligent digital mesh in 2017 as key trends to watch, suggesting these trends will take several years to realize their full effect.
There are five categories of autonomous things:
While these trends are gathering steam, not all are enterprise-ready or in widespread use. Many will continue to evolve over the next several years. And it’s critical to note that even for the underlying technology at issue here—artificial intelligence—most enterprise AI projects remain fledgling.
According to a 2018 Gartner survey, 37% of organizations still need to define their AI strategies, while 35% are struggling to identify suitable use cases for AI in their environments. Another Gartner survey of CIOs found that only 4% of respondents had deployed AI. However, the survey also found that one-fifth of the CIOs are already piloting or planning to pilot AI in the short term.
Figure 2 on global perceptions of AI. Source: Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey, Pew Research Center
The slow pace may well be because organizations lack in-house expertise to guide more widespread AI projects. In Gartner’s 2018 CIO survey, 47% of CIOs reported that they needed new skills for AI projects.
There is also a good deal of anxiety about AI’s massive displacement of human jobs. A September 2018 Pew Research Center study indicated that large majorities in 10 countries surveyed said automation would “definitely” or “probably” lead to significant job losses. The lowest percentage was in the United States, where 65% of people held that view, the report said. (See Figure 2 on global perceptions of AI.)
Enterprises view the emergence of artificial intelligence as a cost-cutting tool, but a better strategy, counseled Gartner in “Lessons from Artificial Intelligence Pioneers,” is to look at AI as a way to create applications that help and improve human endeavors. AI promises benefits far beyond automation, and organizations that embrace this perspective are more likely to find workers willing to embrace AI.
Lauren Horwitz is the managing editor of Cisco.com, where she covers the IT infrastructure market and develops content strategy. Previously, Horwitz was a senior executive editor in the Business Applications and Architecture group at TechTarget;, a senior editor at Cutter Consortium, an IT research firm; and an editor at the American Prospect, a political journal. She has received awards from American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), a min Best of the Web award and the Kimmerling Prize for best graduate paper for her editing work on the journal article "The Fluid Jurisprudence of Israel's Emergency Powers.”