The 2018 edition of the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Cape Town is nearing an end, but before the research packs up its proverbial bags, they delivered a presentation on the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for the year.

In particular Brian Burke, Gartner research vice president, presented the company’s finding, while also looking at how they will affect the current state of the industry along with what possible ways they would be implemented in future.

Burke began his presentation by stressing that these are the technology trends that organisations should be investigating and investing in with great interest, especially if they are keen on being the disruptors and not the disrupted.

The technology trends that Burke has highlighted are as follows, in no particular order we must add.

Autonomous Things

First up is Autonomous Things, which is a rather broad area. In this wide-ranging technology it is the motoring industry that is leading the charge, with self-driving cars all the rage at the moment.

According to Gartner, by 2021 10 percent of vehicles manufactured will have autonomous capabilities.

Burke notes that this tech will extend to other types of vehicles, and we could very soon be seeing things like automated container ships and airplanes along side taxis and buses. Added to this will be a collaboration of automated things says Burke, with the swarms of smart drones we’ve seen in ads recently becoming a more tangible reality.

Augmented Analytics

Next is Augmented Analytics, which will look to enrich the capabilities of all the data that has been mined to date. In particular Gartner says we will see a rise in the growth of data scientists, with their numbers quintupling in 2020.

As for what these data scientists will be doing, Gartner believes we’ll see a surge in analytics for fields that were otherwise untapped, along with drastic decreases in the time it takes to analyse said data.

As such organisations will be looking to create even more correlations between disparate pieces of data in order to find competitive edges.

AI-Driven Development

With AI viewed as a mega-trend by Gartner, naturally it featured in some capacity in this presentation. For the research firm it takes the guise of developing new AI-based applications for deployment in the enterprise sphere.

In fact Gartner says at least 40 percent of new application development projects will have artificial intelligence co-developers on their team by 2020.

One interesting example highlighted by Burke of how it’s already being applied is US fast food franchise CaliBurger, which uses AI to interact with customers at restaurants via a digital touchscreen.

Digital Twin

The rising prominence of the Digital Twin is also a burgeoning megatrend that Gartner has been touting this week, and it appears once again for this presentation.

The research firm says half of large industrial companies will be utilising digital twins by 2021, resulting in 10 percent improvement in effectiveness.

As far as how organisations should be strategising for it, Gartner says the smart environment in particular is one where the digital twin will find footing. As such, virtual models and testing can be done for smart factories, buildings and cities, where projects can be trialled and refined before a fully fledged deployment.

Empowered Edge

That was followed by the Empowered Edge, with more computing power, storage, advanced AI capabilities and analytics moving to edge devices int he coming years, explains Burke.

It will be a relatively slow process compared to the rest of the technology trends presented, he adds, coming to fruition in 2028.

This empowered edge will also be “cloud-architected” says Burke, with these edge devices’ capabilities resulting in an edge cloud of sorts.

Immersive Experience

The sixth trend is more Immersive Experiences, with VR and AR applications coming to the fore in even greater waves, says the Gartner VP.

While the two technologies are being leveraged in the gaming and entertainment spheres for now, Gartner says this will extend to marketing, sales, design and training within the enterprise space.

According to the company, 70 percent of enterprises will be experimenting with the technology by 2020, with 25 percent deploying production-ready offerings into the market.

Blockchain

Up next is something that’s felt like a trend for some time now – Blockchain.

Gartner says this digital ledger technology is only at the tip of the iceberg as far as applications go, with it said to have a handful of phases of maturity as more functions for it are uncovered.

This process is said to come to fruition around 2025, where a more “complete” version of Blockchain will exist according to Gartner. As such there should be more uses for the technology outside of tracking and authentication within the supply chain.

Privacy & Ethics

Next is the growing debate around Privacy and Ethics. It’s one that has come under scrutiny of late with data breaches and scandals involving the likes of Facebook.

Gartner’s view is that organisations that are not currently thinking about the implications of privacy and ethics, will definitely be doing so by this time next year.

Burke adds that the concerns around privacy and ethics will also shift its focus from compliance to trust, along with organisations pondering more seriously about what they should ethically be doing rather than what they are legally allowed to do.

A snapshot of the globe’s privacy evolution. Countries in blue are deemed good.

Smart SpacesĀ 

The ninth trend is Smart Spaces. In its current guise this is centred on the workplace, but this will expand to public spaces and otherwise forgotten areas of cities in coming years, according to Gartner.

It’s also about more than adding a bunch of sensors to feed information into a centralised platform, but also with connecting spaces with other solutions and services in order to make them truly intelligent environments says Burke.

Quantum Computing

The last trend outlined by Burke is Quantum Computing, with 20 percent of organisations budgeting for Quantum Computing projects by 2023. That would be a significant jump from the current number, which is around one percent, according to Gartner.

As far as where it will be applied, it looks like the science and medical fields will see the most benefit, with use in the areas of biomimetics and chemistry one of five key applications that Gartner is predicting.