If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that no one can predict the future. But that’s not to say that we can’t draw conclusions about how we’ll be affected by today’s evolving technology and the new tech just around the corner.
For our “Future-proof 2025: Technology Trends Report,” Pega surveyed more than 1,300 global leaders in varying roles across enterprises ranging from healthcare, manufacturing, and retail to financial services, telecommunications, life sciences, and the public sector. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative research we questioned today’s leaders on how they expect five distinct cutting-edge technologies to impact their businesses over the next five years.
We share our thoughts below on how these five trends will shape your enterprise operations and customer experiences. Be sure to watch our webinar, “What’s Next for Tech?” for additional insights on what tomorrow may bring.
1. Hyperautomation: Using advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), business process management (BPM), and machine learning (ML), to automate and simplify work.
The value of automation for creating operational efficiencies has never been as clear as it was this year. Our survey found that leaders in this space are automating 80% of business processes, like ticketing and data processing, to work more efficiently and improve experiences for their customers and employees. Laggards in this area have only automated 20% of their processes.
It’s important to point out that hyperautomation isn’t one technology, but the application of existing digital capabilities, such as BPM, AI, RPA and low-code, working in concert to achieve improved business outcomes. The organizations that are doing this well are taking an iterative approach, getting quick wins through smart platforms that orchestrate enterprise technologies and use low-code to continually develop, test, and deliver solutions.
2. Distributed cloud: Extending cloud computing capabilities beyond centralized data to accommodate multiple locations and edge devices.
It’s no surprise that in 2020 cloud capabilities became business-critical due to the pandemic. Nearly three-quarters of our survey respondents (73%) said cloud is essential to their business because of its speed, scalability, and ability for remote workforces to tap into a wide network of applications. According to Gartner, spending on cloud services jumped 19% last year, even as global IT spending dropped 8% overall.
As organizations embrace cloud technologies, cloud deployments will continue to mature, shaped by considerations around data integrity, security, and usage. Leading enterprises are developing multi-cloud strategies that orchestrate shared services based on the experiences they want to deliver as well as their requirements for data governance, residency, and privacy.
Future-proof 2025: Technology Trends Report
In our survey of over 1,300 senior leaders and executives around the globe and across sectors, we found five trends to watch.
3. AI Governance: Establishing standards and guidelines around the responsible use of data for AI and machine learning capabilities.
There is a rapidly growing need to take AI governance and transparency seriously. AI is being applied more and more to analytics, decisions, and business processes, and the leaders in our report admit to struggling with growing regulatory requirements like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and more. Additionally, according to an earlier Pega study, 70% of people still fear AI, especially in industries like healthcare and finance where a lot of personal data is at stake.
To stay competitive, you need to assure your customers that their data is in good hands and you are using AI in a fair and unbiased way. Our survey found that 27% of respondents don’t have a dedicated a leader in their organization for AI governance, despite the growing need for responsible AI.
Don’t wait for regulators to determine what your guidelines should be! Business is driven on trust, and leaders need to develop guidelines now that meet customer expectations for AI that is explainable, ethical, and empathetic.
4. Extended Edge: Enabling increased processing power and functionality for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and users at your network edge.
Given the explosive growth of cloud computing, IoT devices, hyperautomation, and the advent of 5G, the global edge computing market ($3.5 billion in 2019) is expected to top $40 billion by 2027, and 96% of survey respondents expect it to be “emergent” by 2025. But those same respondents are waiting for AI, machine learning, and automations to mature before deploying more edge technologies. Our advice: Don’t wait.
The pandemic underscored a need for more processing power at the edge, especially in industries that rely heavily on data that needs to be processed closer to its source, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. From Apple watches to smart cars and refrigerators, edge technologies are already changing the customer experience, and businesses that lead the way will have the advantage.
5. Extended Reality (XR): Delivering simulated “real world” experiences through advanced and mixed technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
This year, Gartner predicts that a third of all large organizations will deliver multi-dimensional experiences, including extended reality. Our survey shows that 81% of respondents expect XR to be an important differentiator in customer engagement strategies within the next five years, however, only 12% have discussed budgeting for it.
By 2025, respondents across the board believe XR will impact customer experiences in a major way, especially in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. We expect it to impact internal operations and organizations looking to build “digital twins” of their key operational processes. We are on the cusp of XR finding its way into business use cases where richer team-to-team or business-to-partner experiences will enhance and improve operational ecosystems.
The combination of these five trends, economic pressures, and changing market dynamics is impacting the way customers work, shop, communicate and live their daily lives.
How can you determine if your enterprise is paving the way or falling behind? Technology innovation has not slowed down – even during a year when progress should have stopped in its tracks. That’s why, more than ever, you need to stay agile and always be thinking ahead.