With today’s pace of change, it’s getting harder to predict the state of technology five to 10 years in the future – not to mention how businesses will adapt to keep up. But with 2020 on the horizon, IT leaders are making big bets on technologies like RPA, 5G, artificial intelligence, and AR/VR, and bolstering cybersecurity, to prepare their organizations for whatever the future may hold.
When we ask IT leaders and tech experts for their predictions each year, we intentionally leave the question open-ended. With one decade coming to an end, and many unknowns in the next, these leaders’ answers reveal what’s top-of-mind for IT professionals – and how they see emerging technologies reshaping their teams and impacting their business and society at large.
Let’s dig into predictions for 2020:
1. RPA will free up time for digital transformation efforts
“RPA adoption will continue to grow in 2020. As CIOs begin augmenting their own IT operations with artificial intelligence workers, RPA will free up some capacity of their teams by reducing redundant tasks. This additional capacity can be used to upskill teams to drive further digital transformation within their respective organizations.” – Jason James, CIO, Net Health
[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]
2. 5G will change how we handle data...
“With its lower latency and faster speeds, 5G is set to deliver the greatest wave of innovation since the advent of the internet. It will add trillions to the global economy with new products, services, and even new business models and industries. The impact this will have on our society will be unprecedented – from the explosion of different form factors of devices to the changes to how we view and receive data and the undoubted strides forward in cloud computing in the form of edge computing. The mainstream use of IoT devices in smart cities and autonomous vehicles combined with 5G will enrich our lives and require a next generation of infrastructure.” – Gordon McKenna, CTO of public cloud, Ensono
3. ...but 5G expansion will bring security challenges
“With 5G networks will come the advent of 5G-only IoT and IIoT devices, which do not require connecting to the local network to operate. This will diminish the risk of an IoT device used as an attack vector against the rest of the network. But it will create more disruption for enterprises that already struggle to determine which equipment they have in their digital infrastructure. When their elevators, HVAC, CCTVs, and smart speakers start connecting directly to the cloud via 5G, it won’t get any easier. We have already seen MITM attacks that allow an attacker to perform device fingerprinting, battery draining, and downgrading attacks. Moving forward, we anticipate an increase in the discovery of new attack vectors as 5G becomes operational worldwide and implementation issues are exposed by researchers.” – Renaud Deraison, co-founder and CTO, Tenable
4. Consumers will demand platform governance
“For tech-focused companies, specifically platform companies like Airbnb, Facebook, Uber, etc., I predict that platform governance will be a big focus in 2020. We’ve already seen Facebook take action and implement policies that help limit the spread of false information to its users, and I can only imagine this trend will continue to grow as the users of these platforms continue to speak out. For these businesses to continue to succeed and stand as the industry moguls they have become, it is imperative they implement stricter governance to protect their users, making them less vulnerable to the dangers that come with this level of technology.” - Sanjay Malhotra, CTO, Clearbridge Mobile
5. Quantum computing will continue to progress
“The mission to demonstrate the practical application of quantum computing will continue in 2020. While some companies have claimed to achieve quantum supremacy, we have yet to see this technology showcase its computing power to solve real-world problems. Although we are many years away from the first true quantum computer, the upcoming year will demonstrate more research and progress towards practical solutions of the technology.” – Kalyan Kumar, CTO, HCL Technologies
6. AI innovation will get democratized
“Developers have easier access to AI than ever before. For example, more and more advanced technologies are available with little to no overhead cost or time commitment, and algorithms can be effective with progressively smaller data sets. This trend democratizes AI innovation and also enables smaller and more niche AI tools to be created – this was not previously possible, either because there was not enough data or the problem was not worth the gigantic investment it would take to solve it. Now both investment and data needs are decreasing rapidly. As a result, we’ll start seeing a greater diversity of AI-powered tools. We’ll also see AI becoming a component, even if very small, of a wide variety of products – for example, AI improving the image quality of cameras and televisions or helping appliances become more efficient.” – Max Lytvyn, head of revenue and co-founder, Grammarly
7. CIOs will look to developers for new tech trends
“The adoption rate of new technology will dramatically increase, especially with open source. Just look at Kubernetes – we were all amazed at how quickly that proliferated. CIOs need to actively explore new technologies and pay attention to what their developers are interested in, as this will indicate the areas they need to invest in.” – Robert Reeves, CTO, Datical
8. Remote work will increase
9. Smaller cities will draw more tech startup HQs
“Who needs San Francisco and Seattle when you live and work in Portland, Oregon – or Maine, for that matter? In 2020, we’ll see more founders, operators, and venture capital migrating to the habitable climes of smaller cities. Places like Raleigh, NC, home to top universities, will become the destination for companies that want to scale affordably and ride the broader trend of highly marketable professionals trading likely-suspect locales to grow their career in more affordable places. In addition to Raleigh, expect a mad dash to Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, and Nashville.” – Todd Olson, CEO and co-founder, Pendo
10. Hiring for developers will become more specialized
“In recent years, companies have hired for full stack engineers. In 2020, we’ll see developers yet again carve out specializations for themselves. And companies who are ahead of the curve will adopt more specific job titles to make it clear to developers what certain roles entail and which team they’ll be working on.” – Eddie Zaneski, developer relations manager, DigitalOcean
What else will happen with talent, AI, and blockchain? Let’s see:
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Keep up with the latest advice and insights from CIOs and IT leaders.