Trends and Predictions 2020: Information Technology

Stephen DeAngelis

January 27, 2020

Information technology (IT) is an umbrella term covering a variety of technologies. Bill Gates (@BillGates) once stated, “Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.” The current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella (@satyanadella), adds, “Information technology is at the core of how you do your business and how your business model itself evolves.” If information technology is so important to business, understanding where IT is headed is essential to the success of any business. For many people, IT also impacts their lives and that impact is intensifying. Mark Sullivan (@thesullivan) predicts, “In 2020, technologies will move toward the mainstream and begin impacting daily life. The next generation of wireless network, 5G, will begin to take hold, for example, and may work as a catalyst for other things like smart cities and smarter mobile and wearable devices. Augmented reality eyewear, which places digital content in the context of the real world, will begin to appear, and may use fast 5G connections to the cloud to identify people and things for us. The role of AI will increase in business, and the public will become more aware of it.”[1]

IT trends

Because IT is such a broad term, determining what should be included under that term is more subjective than objective. In this article, I’m equating “information” with “data.” I might also note it is often difficult to tell the difference between a trend and a prediction. This is apparent in technology trends suggested by Anis Uzzaman (@anis_uzzaman), CEO of Pegasus Tech Ventures.[2] Those trends include:

Trend 1: Breakout moment of artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing. AI is maturing because of the oceans of data available for it to analyze. AI and data are inseparable and symbiotic. Uzzaman notes, “AI is now part of everyday life. … In 2020, emotion recognition and computer vision will scale and AI will have a breakout moment in manufacturing.”

Trend 2: Practical deployment of Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is the epitome of information technology. Uzzaman writes, “IoT is hot but there are not as many mainstream applications today as some predicted. We anticipate that with 5G, the number of connected devices and mainstream IoT applications will reach scale.”

Trend 3: Increased demand for edge computing processing power. Because of the massive amounts of data being generated, processing data where it is generated is becoming more useful, if not essential. Uzzaman notes, “2020 will see the need for higher performance from edge computing hardware since better sensors and larger AI models now enable a host of new applications.”

Trend 4: Commercialization of quantum computing usage in mass scale. The debate about whether a practical, universally programmable quantum computer (so-called quantum superiority) has been developed continues. Uzzaman writes, “We expect 2020 to begin the quantum computing era.”

Trend 5: New era of the internet — deployment of 5G technology. According to Uzzaman, “5G competition between the U.S. and China is entering the main stage in 2020. There will be a new competition about who can propel 5G faster into mass consumer use.”

Trend 6: The world puts blockchain to practical use. Uzzaman explains, “As blockchain grows, payment-type venture companies and venture companies in security … are attracting attention. In 2020, major institutions will introduce blockchain to prevent large-scale information leakage and Internet fraud.”

IT predictions

There can be little doubt we live in the Digital Age. An IDC report predicts that by 2023, “more than half of all worldwide GDP [will be] driven by products and services from digitally transformed industries.”[3] IDC analysts make ten predictions concerning IT. They are:

Prediction 1. Companies hasten to innovation. Many analysts predict companies must innovate or die. IDC analysts predict, “By 2023, more than 50% of all ICT (information and communications technology) spending will go toward digital transformation and innovation.”

Prediction 2. Clouds get integrated. Cloud technology has always been connected but not necessarily integrated. IDC analysts predict, “To stay competitive in this digital-first economy … digital services must be able to run anywhere and anytime. By 2022, 70% of enterprises will deploy unified hybrid/multicloud management technologies, tools, and processes.”

Prediction 3. Computing goes to the edge. Like Uzzaman, IDC analysts believe the importance of edge computing will increase. “By 2023,” they predict, “more than 50% of new enterprise infrastructure deployed will be at the edge rather than corporate data centers. … And, by 2024, the number of apps at the edge will increase 800%.”

Prediction 4. The rise of digital innovation factories. Data is now considered the world’s most valuable resource. It follows that businesses will try to leverage data to their fullest extent. IDC analysts predict, “By 2025, nearly two-thirds of enterprises will be prolific software producers, with code deployed daily. More than 90% of apps will be cloud native, 80% of code will be externally sourced, and 1.6 times more developers will exist than today.”

Prediction 5. Expect an industry apps explosion. “By 2023,” IDC analysts predict, “more than 500 million digital apps and services will be developed and deployed using cloud-native approaches — the same number of apps developed in the last 40 years. Most will be targeted at industry-specific digital transformation use cases.”

Prediction 6. AI is inescapable. Like Uzzaman, IDC analysts see AI becoming ubiquitous. “By 2025,” they predict, “at least 90% of new enterprise apps will embed AI, making apps ‘smarter’ and ‘more dynamic.’ By 2024, more than 50% of user interface interactions will use AI-enabled computer vision, speech, natural language processing (NLP), and AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality).”

Prediction 7. Trust gets promoted. Business has always relied on trust; but, trust is becoming harder to earn. IDC analysts predict, “By 2023, half of the Global 2000 will name a chief trust officer, who orchestrates trust across security, risk, compliance, privacy, and ethical business operations. … Getting trust right will be fundamental for companies to stay competitive.”

Prediction 8. Every enterprise is a platform. In today’s business environment, some pundits insist every company is a digital company. In a similar vein, IDC analysts predict, “By 2023, 60% of the Global 2000 will have a digital developer ecosystem with thousands of developers. Half of these enterprises will drive at least 20% of digital revenue through their digital ecosystem/platform.”

Prediction 9. Cross-industry mashups. Innovation is often found at the crossroads of disciplines. Frans Johansson, in his very interesting book entitled The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures, writes about the value of creating a space in which people from diverse fields of expertise can get together to exchange ideas. IDC analysts also see value in this kind of mashup space. They predict, “Expect to see more digital ecosystem partnerships across industries. By 2025, 20% of revenue growth will come from ‘white space’ offerings, which combine digital services from previously unlinked industries. One-fifth of partners will be from previously unlinked industries.”

Prediction 10. Tech platform wars continue. Yossi Sheffi (@YossiSheffi), the Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT, asserts, “It will become increasingly difficult to compete with large enterprises that are amassing huge volumes of [data].”[4] IDC analysts see a continuing clash between these large enterprises. “By 2023,” they predict, “the top five public cloud megaplatforms will consolidate at least 75% of IaaS and PaaS market share, while SaaS vendors becoming platforms will increase. The top 10 pure-play SaaS vendors will generate an average of nearly 20% revenue from expanding their PaaS services.”

Concluding thoughts

Although technologies of all stripes are continually being developed, information technologies have the largest impacts on activities in most domains. The world is becoming ever more connected and dependent on information technologies.

Footnotes
[1] Mark Sullivan, “Here are the top tech trends of 2020, according to top experts,” Fast Company, 23 December 2019.
[2] Anis Uzzaman, “10 technology trends that will impact our lives in 2020,” Venture Beat, 30 December 2019.
[3] Macy Bayern, “IDC: Top 10 worldwide IT predictions for 2020,” TechRepublic, 29 October 2019.
[4] Yossi Sheffi, “What is a Company’s Most Valuable Asset? Not People,” Supply Chain @ MIT, 20 December 2018.