Complex Made Simple

Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

We can see clear technological paths towards digitizing our experiences and augmenting ourselves. 2020 is just the beginning of a real sci-fi odyssey

Gartner's Strategic Technology Trends for 2020 are organized into two categories: People-Centric and Smart Spaces Human augmentation explores how technology can deliver cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human experience Autonomous things will increasingly be deployed in uncontrolled public spaces as a swarm of collaborative intelligent things

Excerpted from Interesting Engineering

Industry analyst Gartner has identified the most relevant strategic technology trends that CIOs and IT executives should know about for 2020.

According to industry analyst, research and consulting firm Gartner, a strategic technology trend has the potential for substantial disruption. Gartner has identified the following Strategic Technology Trends for 2020 (the full report can be downloaded here). Analysts presented the findings at the annual Gartner’s IT Symposium and Xpo.

Gartner’s Strategic Technology Trends for 2020 are organized into two categories: People-Centric and Smart Spaces.

Read: Enterprise Technology predictions for 2020

  1. People-Centric


Gartner defines Hyperautomation as the combination of multiple Machine Learning (ML), packaged software, and automation tools to deliver work. Hyperautomation refers not only to the breadth of the pallet of tools, but also to all the steps of automation itself: Discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor, and reassess.  

Hyperautomation requires a combination of tools to help support replicating pieces of where the human is involved in a task. 


Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are changing the way in which people perceive the digital world.

This combined shift in both perception and interaction models leads to the future multisensory and multimodal experience, something we will see more often starting in 2020 across many industries. According to Brian Burke, Research Vice President at Gartner, the model will shift from one of technology-literate people to one of people-literate technology. The burden of translating intent will move from the user to the computer.  

Democratization of Expertise

According to the report, and throughout 2023, Gartner expects Democratization of Expertise to be focused on providing people with access to technical expertise such as Machine Learning or application development, or business domain expertise via a radically simplified experience and without requiring extensive and costly training. Citizen access such as citizen data scientists and citizen integrators as well as the evolution of citizen development and no-code models are good examples of democratization.   

Human Augmentation 

According to Gartner, Human augmentation explores how technology can be used to deliver cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human experience.   It can be physical, by changing their inherent physical capabilities by implanting or hosting a technology element on their bodies, such as a wearable device. But also, cognitive augmentation can occur through accessing information and exploiting applications on traditional computer systems and the emerging multi-experience interface in smart spaces.

Individuals will seek personal enhancements raising the number of biohackers and bodyhackers globally. This will create what Gartner calls “a new consumerization effect,” where employees seek to exploit their personal enhancements — and even extend them — to improve their office environment as a whole.

Transparency and Traceability

Consumers who are increasingly aware that their personal information is valuable, are demanding control. Analysts report how organizations recognize the increasing risk of securing and managing personal data, and governments are implementing strict legislation to ensure they do.  

Read: The way ahead: How technology is enabling sustainable development

  1. Smart Spaces

The Empowered Edge

According to Gartner, Edge Computing tries to keep the traffic and processing local to reduce latency, exploit the capabilities of the edge and enable greater autonomy at the edge. According to Brian Burke, much of the current focus on edge computing comes from the need for IoT systems to deliver disconnected or distributed capabilities into the embedded IoT world. “… edge computing will become a dominant factor across virtually all industries and use cases as the edge is empowered with increasingly more sophisticated and specialized compute resources and more data storage. Complex edge devices, including robots, drones, autonomous vehicles, and operational systems will accelerate this shift,” he said.   

Distributed Cloud

The cloud expands its territory and becomes a distributed cloud, which is the distribution of public cloud services to different locations while the originating public cloud provider assumes responsibility for the operation, governance, updates to and evolution of the services. According to Gartner, this represents a significant shift from the centralized model of most public cloud services and will lead to a new era in cloud computing. 

Autonomous Things

Gartner’s report describes Autonomous Things as physical devices that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate functions previously performed by humans. The most recognizable current forms of autonomous things are robots, drones, autonomous vehicles/ships, and appliances. The automation of these things goes beyond the automation provided by rigid programming models, and they exploit AI to deliver advanced behaviors that interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people.

Autonomous things will increasingly be deployed in uncontrolled public spaces as a swarm of collaborative intelligent things where multiple devices will work together, either independently from people or with human input.

Read: Smartphones-what to expect in 2020

Practical Blockchain

According to Gartner, Blockchain has the potential to reshape industries by enabling trust, providing transparency, and enabling value exchange across business ecosystems, potentially lowering costs, reducing transaction settlement times, and improving cash flow. CIOs will see that assets can be traced to their origin, significantly reducing the opportunities for substitutions with counterfeit goods. This will contribute to a more transparent supply chain.

The report notes that another area in which blockchain has potential is identity management. Smart contracts can be programmed into the blockchain where events can trigger actions; for example, payment is released when goods are received. However, Gartner’s Brian Burke says that blockchain remains immature for enterprise deployments due to a range of technical issues including poor scalability and interoperability.  

AI Security

A rather obvious trend for 2020 sees Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning continuing to be applied in order to augment human decision making across a broad set of use cases. According to Gartner, while this creates great opportunities to enable hyperautomation and leverage autonomous things to deliver business transformation, it also creates significant new challenges for risk leaders with a massive increase in potential points of attack with IoT, cloud computing, microservices, and highly connected systems in smart spaces

Gartner’s full report, Strategic Technology Trends for 2020, can be downloaded (registration required) here.