Prepare for machines as co-workers and co-dependents: Gartner

Prepare for machines as co-workers and co-dependents: Gartner

Gartner's top predictions for IT organisations and users in 2015 and beyond look at how digitalisation is changing relationships between humans and machines.

Gartner has revealed its top predictions for IT organisations and IT users for 2015 and beyond - and these are ideas around “human machine cooperation and growth”.

"For some time now, there has been an ongoing shift in the roles machines play in our everyday lives," said Daryl Plummer, vice president, and Gartner Fellow, in a statement.

"Compute-based machines are now being used to create an ever expanding variety of experiences that extend human endeavors. Machines are taking on more human characteristics in order to affect a more personalised relationship with human beings and we find ourselves contemplating a near-term future of a world in which machines and humans are co-workers, and possibly even co-dependents."

Gartner analysts presented the following predictions at their annual Symposium/ITxpo, in Florida.

1) By 2018, digital business will require 50 per cent less business process workers and 500 per cent more key digital business jobs, compared with traditional models.

Gartner says by end of 2016, 50 per cent of digital transformation initiatives will be unmanageable due to lack of portfolio management skills, leading to a measurable negative lost market share.

“The rapid evolution of social media and mobile technologies is driving consumer behaviour. These behavior trends and supporting technologies will significantly change how we live and go about our daily lives; for example — refrigerators will order groceries, robots will have them collected and drones will deliver them to your door, eliminating the need for grocery clerks and delivery drivers. This new digital business environment will profoundly change business processes along with the employment demographics and the need for higher competencies both for the consumer and the providers across all industries.”

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2) By 2017, a significant disruptive digital business will be launched that was conceived by a computer algorithm.

Gartner says through 2015, the most highly valued initial public offerings (IPOs) will involve companies that combine digital markets with physical logistics to challenge pure physical legacy business ecosystems.

The world economy has become ripe for digital disruption, as evidenced by global marketplace companies such as Uber and Airbnb, which are disrupting ground transportation and hotels, respectively, says Gartner. Since such businesses exhibit network effects (their value increases with each new participant) they tend to form natural monopolies, but are challenged by very complex regulatory and marketplace dynamics, which makes them amenable to computational analysis.

3) By 2018, the total cost of ownership for business operations will be reduced by 30 per cent through smart machines and industrialised services.

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Gartner says by 2015, there will be more than 40 vendors with commercially available managed services offerings leveraging smart machines and industrialised services.

Business processes and the entire value chain of business operations will shift from a labour-driven and technology-enabled paradigm to a digital-driven and human-enabled model, says Gartner. Smart machines will not replace humans as people still need to steer the ship and are critical to interpreting digital outcomes. Thus, smart machines will not replace labour, rather they will displace the complacency, inefficiency and add tremendous velocity to business operations.

Machines are taking on more human characteristics in order to affect a more personalised relationship with human beings and we find ourselves contemplating a near-term future of a world in which machines and humans are co-workers, and possibly even co-dependents.

Daryl Plummer, Gartner

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4) By 2020, developed world life expectancy will increase by 0.5 years due to widespread adoption of wireless health monitoring technology.

Gartner says by 2017, costs for diabetic care are reduced by 10 per cent through the use of smartphones.

Wearable monitors hold huge promise, says Gartner. Today, a simple wristband can collect heartbeat, temperature and a number of environmental factors. Wireless heart monitoring patches, smart shirts and sensors in accessories promise more accuracy, choice and comfort to wearers. Transmission through wireless is straightforward. Data can be correlated against large cloud-based information repositories for sanctioned actions and through social networks for anecdotal advice. Gartner expects data from remote monitoring devices to provide continued access from patients to medical practitioners.

5) By end of 2016, more than $2 billion in online shopping will be performed exclusively by mobile digital assistants.

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Gartner says by end 2015, mobile digital assistants will be doing tactical mundane processes such as filling out names, addresses and credit card information. Fixed events such as grocery replenishment will be common and will build trust for these type of assistants to take on more. By year-end 2016, more complex purchase decisions such as back-to-school backpacks and chained events such as scheduling: a highly rated, date-type movie along with dinner and car pick up on an anniversary will be easily achievable.

6) By 2017, US customers' mobile engagement behaviour will drive mobile commerce revenue in the US to 50 per cent of US digital commerce revenue.

Gartner notes a renewed interest in mobile payment will arise in 2015, together with a significant increase in mobile commerce (due in part to the introduction of Apple Pay and similar efforts by competitors, such as Google increasing efforts to drive adoption of its NFC-enabled Google Wallet).

Increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets, and the correspondingly rich and powerful applications available for each, enable consumers and business customers to interact seamlessly with companies, content and commerce experiences at virtually all stages of the purchase process.

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7) By 2017, 70 per cent of successful digital business models will rely on deliberately unstable processes designed to shift as customer needs shift.

Gartner says by end of 2015, five per cent of global organisations will design "supermaneuverable" processes that provide competitive advantage.

As a result of business model innovation, some business processes must now be deliberately unstable. Deliberately unstable processes refer to processes that are designed for change and can dynamically adjust according to customer needs. They are vital because they are agile, adaptable and "supermaneuverable" according to shifts in customer needs. These supermaneuverable processes exist within the context of larger, more stable processes. They are a competitive differentiator because they can support customer interactions that are unpredictable and require ad hoc decision-making to enable the larger, more stable processes to continue. They are often impossible for other competitors to duplicate, it states. Deliberately unstable processes will mandate a drastic shift in the ability of an enterprise and its people to change in a more fluid manner. The ability to change faster will leverage the concepts of organisational liquidity. This holistic approach, blending business model, processes, technology and people will fuel digital business success.

8) By 2017, 50 per cent of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

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Gartner says by 2015, more than half of traditional consumer products will have native digital extensions. The reality is that focusing innovation on new products — and even new business models — is subject to shrinking periods of competitive advantage. Competitors and alternatives abound and product innovation is subject to accelerating commoditisation. Customer experience innovation remains the secret to lasting brand loyalty.

9) By 2017, nearly 20 per cent of durable goods e-tailers will use 3D printing (3DP) to create personalised product offerings. Gartner says by 2015, more than 90 per cent of durable goods e-tailers will actively seek external partnerships to support the new "personalised" product business models. 3DP is already having a profound impact on enabling startups to reduce infrastructure costs, compared with existing traditional manufacturing processes. Gartner says almost every single durable goods category will see a surge in 3DP-enabled personalisation and manufacturers will develop capabilities for bringing the consumer closer to the design experience. The companies that set the strategy early will end up defining the space within their categories. This requires a corporate culture that is supportive of nonconformance products, new front office "concierge" business capabilities, and back office IT and operations skills.

10) By 2020, retail businesses that utilise targeted messaging in combination with internal positioning systems (IPS) will see a 5 per cent increase in sales.

By 2016, Gartner predicts a rise in the number of offers from retailers focused on customer location and the length of time in store.

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Recently, however, indoor positioning systems have become increasingly viable, says Gartner. Rather than using satellites, these systems use low-energy Bluetooth beacons and Wi-Fi access points to pinpoint a mobile device's location inside a building, with accuracies in the centimeter range. Support within newer mobile devices for IPS will enable location cues for targeted ads and messages, and real-time mapping to lead customers not only to store locations, but to specific products themselves.

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