Heading into 2023, consider how Gartner predictions for some of the most critical areas of technology and business evolution in ensuing years can affect your thinking. Build these strategic planning assumptions into your roadmap for the years ahead to capture the interest of strategic thinkers and fuel the excitement of tactical decision makers.
“The theme of this year’s predictions is ‘seize uncertainty,’ ” says Gartner Daryl Plummer, VP Distinguished Analyst and Gartner Fellow. “This imperative prompts organizations to focus on the weakest link in the chain of their success — themselves. It challenges thinking and action at the same time because it recognizes uncertainty is a repository for ‘hope’ — for opportunity.”
People typically hate change. People, culture, markets and strategies value consistency and stability over innovation and uncertainty. “But executives must allow for the possibility of failure as a means of finding success,” says Plummer. That requires flexibility and a willingness to let go of old ways of thinking, and old patterns of action.
The options for driving improvement are seldom discrete or binary. Sometimes, doing more is better; sometimes you need to do less. For example, you can improve sustainability with automation and AI, but must still implement carefully to avoid diminishing returns. Similarly, workers want to pursue work situations that offer flexibility over where or how to work even as inflation and an economic downturn could threaten their job options And companies must balance growth through investments with cost cutting.
Consider these 10 predictions as you seek to turn uncertainty into opportunity and make your organization more flexible and adaptable — and prepared for whatever comes.
No. 1: Through 2027, fully virtual workspaces will account for 30% of the investment growth by enterprises in metaverse technologies and will “reimagine” the office experience.
Virtual workspaces increase the ability to hire and bring together employees regardless of geographic location. This also includes employees who are unable or unwilling to join in-person engagements. Virtual spaces provide an alternative to travel and meeting solutions, and will eventually disrupt both industries. For remote-first or hybrid organizations, virtual workspaces may replace the office and eventually become the center of the digital employee experience.
No. 2: By 2025, “labor volatility” will cause 40% of organizations to report a material business loss, forcing a shift in talent strategy from acquisition to resilience.
“Material” is an accounting term which means “of significant financial consequence and must be explained on financial disclosures.” As many as 40% of organizations will struggle to ensure consistency and stability in their operations. Organizations will need to make a significant shift to focusing on flexibility to ensure execution of and delivery on their business models. For example, 57% of employees do not believe their company is enabling them to create a superior customer experience right now.
No. 3: By 2025, organizations that remediate documented gender pay gaps will decrease women’s attrition by 30%, reducing pressure on talent shortages.
Organizations struggle daily to have talent with the right skills to deliver against their business strategies. At the same time, they’re striving for more diversity due to investor pressure, societal expectations and a desire to realize its business value. Compensation is the top driver in retaining talent. Employees want to be compensated fairly and will change jobs to get that pay. The business case for diversity is abundantly clear: Retain more women to realize those benefits — better profits, greater revenue, higher productivity and superior innovation.
No. 4: Through 2025, employee value metrics like well-being, burnout and brand satisfaction will override ROI evaluations in 30% of successful growth investment decisions.
Organizations that create a better employee experience tend to perform well on customer experience metrics, which in turn leads to higher revenue growth and loyalty. Traditional ROI models tend to elevate investments that result in short-term outcomes, like those that lower costs (such as reducing headcount) or directly improve revenue (hire another sales rep). Organizations that use more expansive metrics beyond ROI will shift their investment focus to long-term growth, disruption and innovation.
No. 5: By 2025, without sustainable AI practices, AI will consume more energy than the human workforce, significantly offsetting carbon-zero gains.
The energy consumption by AI is growing rapidly along with increasing use to automate human activities. Machine learning (ML) models need to be trained and executed, which requires more cloud data centers. Practices are emerging in order to significantly reduce energy consumption for ML. Before dismissing AI as a technology that consumes too much energy, note that the benefits of AI may potentially far outweigh its own footprint. However, this potential can only be realized if AI is proactively and effectively applied in as many processes, companies and organizations as possible.
No. 6: By 2027, social media platform models will shift from “customer as product” to “platform as customer” of decentralized identity, sold through data markets.
Currently users must prove their identity repeatedly across online services, which is not efficient, scalable or secure. As such, the market will move toward portable digital identity wallets in which a user proves their identity just once, and can then assert that proven identity many times.
New identity data markets will be a requirement under Web3 to support a more personalized user interaction. With this new model, users will have to release their identity data and contractually set the terms of usage and required payments for said data.
No. 7: By 2026, citizen-led denial of service (cDOS) attacks, using virtual assistants to shut down operations, will become the fastest growing form of protest.
There is debate about whether denial of service attacks should be considered a form of free speech, as it currently violates various international policies and laws. This debate will only become more complicated, potentially spurring the need for new legislation when these attacks are increasingly perpetrated by citizens focused on social issues as opposed to maliciously motivated hackers. Citizen-led denial of service attacks could force organizations to incur significant expense. To prevent citizen-led attacks, Amazon, Google, Apple and other virtual assistant providers may face pressure to remove the skills or actions that allow a virtual assistant to contact organizations.
No. 8: By 2025, shareholder acceptance of moonshot speculative investments will double, making them a viable alternative to traditional R&D spend to accelerate growth.
Leading enterprises will take advantage of uncertainty or disruption, leveraging new and unknown mindsets, capabilities and skills to capture growth opportunities. A moonshot is enterprise and shareholder acceptance of high-risk or speculative technology investment with high potential for return. It is a radical new way to solve an existing or new problem using disruptive means (i.e., product, technology, innovation). Traditional practices that use defined innovation budgets and predicting future outcomes through business cases will be replaced. Organizations will accept failure first as a way to maintain viability, investment and future innovation.
No. 9: Through 2025, powerhouse cloud ecosystems will consolidate the vendor landscape by 30%, leaving customers with fewer choices and less control of their software destiny.
Today, cloud ecosystems integrate the tools of a cloud solution provider (CSP) or an independent software vendor (ISV). Most of these ecosystems are incomplete, missing functionality, maturity and adoption. As such, most organizations develop a blended ecosystem in order to make improvements. Over time, as the primary ecosystem vendors mature and add to their own tools, organizations will replace third-party ISV tools. As CSPs increase the usefulness of their tools and fast-follow innovation, there will be greater cost savings from reduced integration, time to market and training.
No. 10: Through 2024, jointly owned sovereignty partnerships sanctioned by regulators will increase stakeholder trust in global cloud brands and facilitate continued IT globalization.
Increased awareness among governments and regulators leads to tighter privacy and data protection policies, higher requirements for data sovereignty and data control, and more demand for digital sovereignty, such as through technological control and long-term autonomy.
The expectations regarding sovereign cloud solutions are evolving from data sovereignty and privacy concerns to concerns regarding continued, long-term access to and availability of cloud solutions. Regulators and cloud providers will need to work together to clarify the appropriate potential approaches and measures. A jointly owned cloud provider approach between governments and regulators can (re)establish trust among cloud users in global cloud brands and facilitate continued technical globalization.