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Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021

Gartner, the worlds leading advisory and research firm has given insight to it's esteemed analysts' insights into some of the most important Strategic Technology Trends for 2021. the findings were announced during the October 2020 IT Symposium, with the Vice President of Research for Gartner, Brian Burke noting "As organizations journey from responding to the COVID-19 crisis to driving growth, they must focus on the three main areas that form the themes of this year’s trends: people centricity, location independence, and resilient delivery. Taken together, these trends create a whole that is larger than its individual parts and focus on social and personal demand from anywhere to achieve optimal delivery.”

1. Internet of Behaviours

the Internet of Things (IoT), connecting almost any electronic device to the internet, is no longer a future aspiration of tech companies, it is here, and it has helped develop a new understanding of users' preferences, behaviors, and interests through the collection of data and usage patterns - also known as Internet of Behaviours (IoB). the term was first coined in Gartner's Tech Predictions for 2020 and now they predict by 2025, more than half of the world's population will be subjected to a minimum of one IoB program. Burke notes that "In practical terms, it's real things like health insurance companies that are monitoring your fitness bands and your food intake, and the number of times you go to the gym, and those things to adjust your premiums."

While the applications may be harmless, there is still a huge range of ethical and societal debates to be had about the usage of these applications and how they may affect behaviors.

2. Total Experience

In 2019 Gartner introduced "multi-experience", but TX goes a step further, Total experience involves the combination of employee experience, user experience, customer experience, and many other types of experience that influence or drives business transformation outcomes. Gartner notes that businesses will need a TX strategy as interactions with consumers become more virtual, partly attributed to COVID-19, total experience will help to improve all experiences and achieve an accelerated transformed, business outcome.

3. Privacy Enhancing Computation

Gartner predicts that by 2025, half of large organizations will implement privacy-enhancing computation for processing data in untrusted environments and multiparty data analytics use cases, privacy-enhancing computation protects data in use while maintaining secrecy or privacy. In short, privacy-enhancing computation emphasizes three types of technologies that guard the data that is in use;

  1. The primary serves a trusted environment in which, the data that is sensitive can be processed and analyzed.

  2. The second takes care of the data processing and analysis in a dispersed manner.

  3. The third performs encryption of data as well as the algorithms prior to the analytics and processing.

4. Distributed Cloud

The distributed cloud involves the distribution of public cloud services to different physical locations while the operation, governance, and evolution of the services are the responsibility of the public cloud provider. 

Gartner notes that by 2025, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services that execute at the point of need. Burke goes on to note that the “distributed cloud can replace private cloud and provides edge cloud and other new use cases for cloud computing. It represents the future of cloud computing,”.

5. Anywhere Operations

'Anywhere operations' refers to an operating model that supports customers and enables employees, everywhere, as well as managing the deployment of business services across distributed infrastructure. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, 40% of companies will have applied anywhere operations to deliver optimized and blended virtual and physical customer and employee experiences.

Gartner exclusively specifies this as the model of “digital-first, remote-first”, the report also states that digital is to be the default for businesses. A great example provided by Gartner is the contactless check-outs at any of the physical stores.

6. Cybersecurity Mesh

The cybersecurity mesh enables anyone to access any digital asset securely, no matter where the asset or person is located. My burke notes, “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the multidecade process of turning the digital enterprise inside out,” adding that; “We’ve passed a tipping point — most organizational cyber assets are now outside the traditional physical and logical security perimeters. As anywhere operations continue to evolve, the cybersecurity mesh will become the most practical approach to ensure secure access to, and use of, cloud-located applications and distributed data from uncontrolled devices.” Gartner predicts that by 2025, cybersecurity mesh will support more than half of digital access control requests.

7. Intelligent Composable Business

An intelligent composable business will re-engineer decision-making through access to better information and a more flexible response to it. Gartner provides the example of machines enhancing decision making in the future, enabled by a rich fabric of data and insights. “To get this successfully done, the enterprises should allow easy access to information, then augment that kind of data with even better insights that will have the capability to instantly answer to the inferences of that insight” said Burke.

"The intelligent composable business will pave the way for redesigned digital business moments, new business models, autonomous operations, and new products, services, and channels."

8. AI Engineering

A huge number of companies have faced issues during AI projects because of challenges with maintainability, governance, and scalability, evidenced by Gartner research which shows that just 53% of projects make it from artificial intelligence (AI) prototypes to production.

Gartner notes that a robust AI engineering strategy will facilitate the performance, scalability, interpretability and reliability of AI models while delivering the full value of AI investments.


Hyperautomation was previously noted as one of the top technology trends for 2020, it is the application of advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning and Process Mining that enable process automation and augmentation of workers, it is generally more impactful than traditional automation capabilities. Hyper automation allows companies to rapidly identify, vet and automate business and IT processes. Hyperautomation has been a popular concept over the past few years, but the pandemic has created a new, much larger demand, Gartner notes that "the backlog of requests from business stakeholders has prompted more than 70% of commercial organizations to undertake dozens of hyperautomation initiatives as a result." burke explained the evolution of the demand for hyperautomation, stating that its has "moved from task-based automation, to process-based automation, so automating a number of tasks in a process, to functional automation across multiple processes and even moving towards automation at the business ecosystem-level".

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