Autonomous things, digital twins among Gartner's top tech trends for 2019

Gartner highlights autonomous things, augmented analytics and AI-driven development as among the top strategic technology trends that organisations should explore in 2019.

These tech trends, along with digital twins, empowered edge, immersive experience, blockchain, smart spaces, quantum computing as well as digital ethics and privacy, are described by Gartner as having "substantial disruptive potential".

Their potential is "beginning to break out of an emerging state into broader impact and use, or which are rapidly growing trends with a high degree of volatility reaching tipping points over the next five years," claims the research and market analysis firm.

At the company's Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando Florida this week, David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow said: "The Intelligent Digital Mesh has been a consistent theme for the past two years and continues as a major driver through 2019. Trends under each of these three themes are a key ingredient in driving a continuous innovation process as part of a ContinuousNEXT strategy."

"For example, artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of automated things and augmented intelligence is being used together with the Internet of Things (IOT), edge computing and digital twins to deliver highly integrated smart spaces. This combinatorial effect of multiple trends coalescing to produce new opportunities and drive new disruption is a hallmark of the Gartner top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019."

Gartner believes autonomous things, such as robots, drones and autonomous vehicles, use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans.

"As autonomous things proliferate, we expect a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things, with multiple devices working together, either independently of people or with human input," said Cearley.

Automated insights from augmented analytics will also be embedded in enterprise applications - for example, those of the HR, finance, sales, marketing, customer service, procurement and asset management departments - to optimise the decisions and actions of all employees within their context, not just those of analysts and data scientists.

"This will lead to citizen data science, an emerging set of capabilities and practices that enables users whose main job is outside the field of statistics and analytics to extract predictive and prescriptive insights from data," said Cearley. "Through 2020, the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of expert data scientists. Organisations can use citizen data scientists to fill the data science and machine learning talent gap caused by the shortage and high cost of data scientists."

Digital Twins

By 2020, Gartner estimates there will be more than 20 billion connected sensors and endpoints and digital twins will exist for potentially billions of things. Organisations will implement digital twins simply at first. They will evolve them over time, improving their ability to collect and visualise the right data, apply the right analytics and rules, and respond effectively to business objectives.

"One aspect of the digital twin evolution that moves beyond IOT will be enterprises implementing digital twins of their organisations (DTOs). A DTO is a dynamic software model that relies on operational or other data to understand how an organisation operationalises its business model, connects with its current state, deploys resources and responds to changes to deliver expected customer value," added Cearley. "DTOs help drive efficiencies in business processes, as well as create more flexible, dynamic and responsive processes that can potentially react to changing conditions automatically."

Gartner recently hosted the Africa-leg of its Symposium/ITxpo in Cape Town in September and used the opportunity to outline its top ten tech trends list and why businesses in Africa need to be aware and respond.