Fresh off the World Economic Forum annual meeting and with a new year unfolding, we’ve been thinking the tech trends in 2020 and how it will transform our professional lives.
The known knowns
We already know what some of 2020’s dominating themes will be.
The World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos focused, among other things, on sustainability — both environmentally speaking and in terms of more responsible and inclusive businesses — and the impact of the fourth industrial revolution on the future of work and society.
These are not new themes but they’re likely to become increasingly dominant over the next year, and decade.
It may sound strange now, but expect this combination of words to become familiar.
Accenture has just released a report on “responsible leadership”, outlining the qualities of the new generation of leaders, expected to deliver financial performance, continuous innovation, but also sustainability and overall positive social impact.
“Organizations have the opportunity and the obligation to drive growth in tandem with positive social and environmental outcomes”, commented Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer at Accenture.
According to the report, one of the five elements defining responsible leadership is Intellect & Insight. This entails, among other things, leaders being committed to continuous learning and data-driven insights. As Steven Levy wrote in a Wired opinion, the 2010s killed the cult of the tech founder as we knew it.
Another thing we know we will see in 2020 is the introduction of legislation regulating AI.
A new European Commission was voted into office by the EU Parliament at the end of November 2019 — the new President, Ursula von der Leyen, said she would put forward “legislation for a coordinated approach on the human and ethical implications of artificial intelligence” in her first 100 days of office.
Europe will ultimately issue a GDPR-like, overarching piece of legislation.
With internet giants such as Google also calling for “international alignment” of regulatory standards around AI, chances are we will hear more about AI laws over the course of 2020.
Embrace Augmented Intelligence
Sustainable, responsible and ethical may define the new wave of innovation and the new generation of leaders in the decade ahead, however ultimately the driver remains technology, and its impact on our workplaces and the way we work.
According to Forrester, 2020 will be the year when companies become “laser-focused on AI value” and “accelerate adoption”.
By 2024, 50% of structured repeatable tasks will be automated (IDC)
IDC also predict that 20% of employees engaged in high-tech tasks will have “digital colleagues” in the shape of software or other digital technology based on artificial intelligence.
“The work of the future”, they say, “will be performed by both man and machines. Technologies automate and complement human work.”
Augmented intelligence — a close collaboration between humans and machines that rests on the idea that human intelligence and skills will not be replaced by technology, but augmented by it — is also a concept you might expect to hear more often in 2020.
IDC also expects companies to invest heavily in employee reskilling in 2020 — basically, training them to use the new AI tools — to the point that commentators argue that employers who won’t invest in AI tools and training should doubt their ability to grow over the coming years.
75% of C-suite executives believe they risk going out of business altogether if they fail to scale AI in the next five years (Accenture)
Augmented Analytics is the New AI
Augmented analytics — the process of automating analytics using AI — was one of the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019 for Gartner, which defined it as “the next wave of disruption” in the data and analytics market.
At the beginning of 2020, Gartner predicted that “augmented analytics technology will be ubiquitous” by 2022.
Whether or not it’s in your job description, analytics is bound to become an even hotter topic — one definitely worth keeping an eye on.