Gartner has revealed its top strategic predictions for 2023 and beyond. Gartner’s top predictions explore how business and technology leaders can reimagine assumptions and seize the moment to turn uncertainty to certainty.
“Uncertainty carries as much opportunity as it does risk,” said Daryl Plummer, Distinguished VP Analyst and Gartner Fellow. “The key to unlocking those opportunities is to reimagine assumptions – especially those rooted in a pre-digital past – around how work is done, how relationships between customers and providers will evolve and how current trends will unfold.
“The comforts of consistency are a detriment to the growth of any company seeking to lead in a modern digital world filled with unknowns. This year’s predictions provide a foundation for executive leaders to seize uncertainty, challenge thinking and change expectations while maintaining forward movement.”
Through 2027, fully virtual workspaces will account for 30% of the investment growth by enterprises in metaverse technologies and will “reimagine” the office experience.
As employees continue to desire more flexible work scenarios, virtual workspaces in metaverses will emerge to support new immersive experiences. Fully virtual workspaces are computer-generated environments where groups of employees can come together using personal avatars or holograms.
“Existing meeting solution vendors will need to offer metaverse and virtual workspace technologies or risk being replaced,” said Plummer. “Virtual workspaces deliver the same cost and time savings as videoconferencing, with the added benefits of better engagement, collaboration and connection.”
By 2025, without sustainable artificial intelligence (AI) practices, AI will consume more energy than the human workforce, significantly offsetting carbon zero gains.
As AI becomes increasingly pervasive and requires more complex machine learning (ML) models, it consumes more data, compute resources and power. If current AI practices remain unchanged, the energy needed for ML training and associated data storage and processing may account for up to 3.5% of global electricity consumption by 2030.
Yet as AI practitioners become more aware of their growing energy footprint, sustainable AI practices are emerging, such as the use of specialised hardware to reduce energy consumption, energy efficient coding, transfer learning, small data techniques, federated learning and more.
“AI offers huge potential benefits to optimise operational efficiency and sustainability, far outweighing its own footprint,” said Plummer. “Provided it is applied more pervasively and effectively than today, AI could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by five to ten percent.”
By 2026, citizen-led denial of service (cDOS) attacks, using virtual assistants to shut down operations, will become the fastest growing form of protest.
Protests against businesses and government organisations are increasingly digital. Citizen-led denial-of-service attacks (cDOS) are led by average people rather than hackers, performed through virtual assistants.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 37% of customers will try using a virtual assistant to interact with customer service on their behalf; for example, by waiting on hold for them. These legitimate interactions using virtual assistants will pave the way for protests. By 2024, citizens will shut down a Fortune 500 company’s contact centre through denial-of-service attacks launched by virtual assistants.
Through 2025, powerhouse cloud ecosystems will consolidate the vendor landscape by 30% leaving customers with fewer choices and less control of their software destiny.
The largest cloud service providers (CSPs) are creating ecosystems whereby they and preferred independent software vendors (ISVs) offer a range of pre-integrated and composable services. CSP ecosystems offer the potential for significant productivity gains from simplified sourcing, integration and composability of software components. As CSP ecosystems mature, there will be diminishing need for third-party ISV tools because CSPs can quickly release new features and become fast followers of innovation due to the speed and agility of cloud development.
Through 2024, jointly owned sovereignty partnerships sanctioned by regulators will increase stakeholder trust in global cloud brands and facilitate continued IT globalisation.
As societies become increasingly globally interconnected and dependent upon digital information, more regulations and legislation are emerging from a desire to control and protect citizens and ensure continued availability of critical services. Specifically, governments and commercial regulators are tightening policies regarding the use of non-regional cloud providers for critical or sensitive workloads.
“Due to recent geopolitical events and seeing the direct impact that de-platforming sanctions can have, demand for sovereign cloud solutions is evolving,” said Plummer. “Governments and regulators that sanction specific jointly owned approaches of cloud providers with local partners can meet tightened sovereignty requirements while facilitating continued technical globalisation.”
By 2025, “labour volatility” will cause 40% of organisations to report a material business loss, forcing a shift in talent strategy from acquisition to resilience.
Challenges such as the Great Resignation, burnout and quiet quitting continue to challenge business leaders to find, attract, hire and retain talent. Within corporate announcements and financial disclosures, organisations will increasingly highlight material strategic shifts due to the inability to support existing products or services or launch new opportunities because of workforce challenges.
“Labour volatility has a direct correlation to enterprise execution and delivery models that impacts financial performance,” said Plummer. “The resiliency dialogue must become a CEO and boardroom conversation, rather than one siloed to HR.”
By 2025, shareholder acceptance of moonshot speculative investments will double, making them a viable alternative to traditional R&D spend to accelerate growth.
To find advantages amidst uncertainty and volatility, industry leaders are increasingly accepting high-risk technology investments with little-known returns and potential failure, known as “moonshots.”
“Winning companies have learned the real risk they face is doing too little too late. Adopting antifragile approaches, such as moonshots, allows organisations to maximise their advantage from disruption by adjusting their risk appetite and raising their tolerance for failure,” said Plummer.
By 2027, social media platform models will shift from “customer as product” to “platform as customer” of decentralised identity, sold through data markets.
The current paradigm of users having to prove their identity repeatedly across online services is not efficient, scalable or secure. Web3 enables new decentralised identity standards which introduce several disruptive benefits, including giving users more control over which data they share, removing the need for repeated identity proofing across services and supporting common authentication services.
By 2025, organisations that remediate documented gender pay gaps will decrease women’s attrition by 30%, reducing pressure on talent shortages.
Gartner data consistently shows that compensation is a top driver for talent attraction and retention, yet only 34% of employees believe their pay is equitable. There is no generally accepted methodology for calculating pay equity, challenging organisations to identify and account for gender pay gaps. A nascent market is forming for software tools that offer pay equity assessments, with specialist vendors emerging that provide more ways to analyse and model data related to equitable pay.
Through 2025, employee value metrics like well-being, burnout, and brand satisfaction will override return on investment (ROI) evaluations in 30% of successful growth investment decisions.
Investments in efforts such as employee well-being and customer experience can yield direct financial returns through revenue growth and cost reduction. However, their more significant impacts are often on brand value, reputation and employee and customer acquisition and retention. Such metrics are difficult to quantify in terms of short-term financial gains, but they influence longer-term financial outcomes that drive enterprise value.
“Use of traditional ROI models to make investment decisions can discount or completely exclude non-financial benefits. Organisations that use more expansive valuation approaches will shift their investment focus to long-term growth, disruption and innovation,” said Plummer.