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What's Next for Tech?

From hyperautomation and distributed cloud to extended reality - our crystal ball has some exciting predictions for you. Watch this webinar to discover what the future holds and how some of the most cutting-edge technologies will drastically impact the way we work, execute processes, and manage our daily lives.

In a can’t-miss session, Pega’s SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Tom Libretto, and CTO & VP of Product Strategy, Don Schuerman, disclose five distinct technology trends to watch out for in the next five years. They also share insights from Pega’s Tech Trends survey where we canvassed 1,350 senior leaders and executives to understand how leading enterprises are utilizing digital technologies and preparing for what tomorrow may bring.


Hi everyone, I'm Tom Libretto, Pega's Chief Marketing Officer.

And I'm Don Schuerman, CTO and Vice President of Product Strategy at Pega.

And we wanted to welcome you, once again, to our third annual technology trends webinar. This year has been a weird year for virtually everyone on the planet. And in that spirit a lot has changed with our tech trends, in years past, although we nailed it every single time.

We got them a hundred percent right, Tom. A hundred percent right.

We'd canvas the market and, you know, understand and talking with clients, partners, the ecosystem, keeping an eye on competitors in the industry at large, what trends were really popping in the next year. This year we took a different approach. We surveyed over 1300 respondents from a variety of industry sectors, regions, job functions, to look a little bit further out. Five years, in fact, on what technology trends are going to be important, not just in 2021, but over the coming years. So we're happy to announce that through that survey research we've distilled some pretty obvious trends. Don, what are they?

So there are five big trends, Tom, that we found in our research. The first is hyperautomation. The next one is distributed cloud. The third one is AI governance. The fourth is the extended edge. And keeping with that theme, the fifth one is extended reality. And we're gonna go step through each one of these in a little more detail.

Fantastic. Let's jump right into trend number one, which is all about hyperautomation. We've heard various terms be used for the concept of automation. Started way back when with business process management. Some call it now workflow. Robotic process automation. Digital process automation. Of course, a new term needs to be cast around this whole theme, which, now, is hyperautomation. I think it's really about putting steroids on all that auto automation technology and the capabilities that it delivers. And importantly, low-code is really, really come into its own of late as the preeminent toolbox for building rapid applications. Not just building them, but iterating them, improving them, and bringing more and more creators into the fold around an enterprise to really get powerful applications that get work done, delivered, and delivered fast. Don, anything else to add on this one?

Yeah, I mean, I think the other big sort of engine behind hyperautomation is, as you said, that injection of low-code, but also that injection of AI. How do I use capabilities like natural language processing, OCR, voice recognition, intelligent decisioning to automate more and more of that process? And I think the important thing about hyperautomation is it's not a technology. It's these capabilities that we've had in business process management, and in RPA, and in low-code, and in AI coming together to really drive big solutions. You know, one of the other things we saw in our survey was the people who are doing this well are taking a real iterative approach to their automations. Laggards are struggling 'cause they don't quite know how to get the intelligent automation quick wins, right? So leveraging cool tools like low-code to get that quick win, get that first micro journey, as you might say, automated is where organizations are gonna get a lot of benefit. Not just in terms of the efficiency that they're able to deliver, but the improved experiences they're able to deliver to their employees and to their customers.

Yeah, I couldn't agree more, Don. I think that concept of all of these different types of technologies once and for all being unified, ideally in a platform that takes advantage of the best of them is the way to get to that, you know, get those quick wins and then build from there. So Don, why don't you take us through the next trend around distributed cloud.

So this is really around the way in which organizations are embracing the universe of cloud technologies that are available. And thinking about, not just running all their services together, but having a distributed library of services of capabilities that they can bring to bear when and where they need it on the data that they need. Having data that might be located in one region because that's where they need it from a privacy perspective, but still being able to run processing in another region when they need to do it. And what we've seen is that leaders in this space are taking a company-wide strategy to how they adopt distributed cloud, so that they're using similar technology, shared services, getting good governance about these deployments. Thinking strategically about how they use data governance and data residency and privacy to really get full advantage of some of the speed and scalability that comes from cloud. But making sure that it's not happening in silos or pockets, but it's a part of an enterprise-wide strategy that supports all of their stakeholders.

Yeah, great. I think when we see laggards in this space, they're very often not thinking strategically. They continue to develop cloud strategies and then materialize cloud services, silo-by-silo across an organization or different lines of business. And they're paying insufficient attention to the robust set of APIs that are available now pretty universally to connect legacy systems through modern systems, all the way into front-end user interfaces. So I think in a very big way, cloud has matured beyond a destination. It is now really an as a service portfolio.

I think that's the big takeaway here, Tom, right? Is we need to stop thinking about cloud purely as infrastructure as a service. You know, purely it's just iron that I can go take and run my systems on. But instead thinking about it strategically as a collection of services that I can compose together into the processes that I need for my employees, the experiences that I want to deliver, the cool new products that I want to innovate with. And, you know, a big part of some of those cloud services is the way in which they use data and AI to make decisions. And our next big trend that we identified was this idea of AI governance. So talk to me a little bit, Tom, about what we're seeing there.

Don, it's a really important one. We're seeing businesses finally really take hold of the need to provide more transparency around the AI that they're using. It's all around us, right? You can't open a website or a social platform without understanding what's being fed to you and why. And more and more analytical models and AI machinery in general are generating those experiences for us in our day-to-day lives. Increasingly, those same experiences from a business-to-consumer point of view are also leveraging models to determine what those offers will be, what the, you know, the content will be, what the experiences will be. And as such, I think there's a growing need voiced by consumers in general, but needing to be taken seriously and take hold within enterprises is that transparency layer providing governance around how and why decisions are being made and making sure that they conform to a business's value system. And that are empathetic to the end user. And they're just doing the right thing for the right purpose and not waiting so much for government regulation to determine what those guardrails will be, but the tooling itself, having that level of transparency built within it.

I like to think of those as sort of the three E's of AI governance, right? Explainability. Can you explain and be transparent in how the AI is making the decision? Ethics. Is it ethical? You know, not just does it meet regulations, but does it actually meet the morals and values that your business, your brand wants to bring forward into market? And then empathy. You know, are you using AI to truly better understand your customer's needs so that you can respond to them in real time? You know, one of the differences that we saw between leaders and say laggards in this space was that that laggards weren't yet applying this AI to customer engagement solutions to really improving the customer experience. They were instead focused on more things like document processing and image recognition. But there's real power of AI done in an explainable, ethical and empathetic way to transform the customer experience. So I think we're gonna see more and more of that with the right governance wrapped around it, with IT and business coming together to provide that governance as industries take AI into the future.

Yeah, a hundred percent. I think consumers expect that level of transparency, as business largely is still driven on trust. And consumers have an expectation that when they do business with an organization, that there is a trust handoff there. And they need to be confident that if an organization is using AI to generate that experience, that it is wholesome and it does meet, not only the business's ethical standards, but the expectations of the consumer as well. So Don, let's take a bit of a pivot and talk about how all these technologies are really extending to the edge, so to speak, with our fourth trend being extended edge.

So if we think about the world right now, right? We are moving to an ever more distributed set of devices, right? My Apple Watch that is, you know, monitoring my health behaviors. My car, which knows how many miles I drive every day and when I might need services. The Nest Thermostat down the hall that is checking my temperatures. The lights I can turn on and off with my phone. If you apply that to the world of connected things, what we've been calling the IoT, or the internet of things, there is more and more data and power and computing happening at the edge. And with the advent of new types of networks, you know, 5G, which is going to introduce vast more amounts of connectivity and data pipe basically to all these devices, there's a huge opportunity for organizations to impact and engage with their customers all the way at the edge. And push, in some cases, some of the computing itself out to the edge point so that it can be tied very immediately to that customer engagement. So, you know, what we're seeing leaders do is take some of those other trends, hyperautomation, right? The idea of having distributed cloud services. And how do I bring that to bear on taking all of these signals that are coming from internet of things devices, you know, healthcare and telecommunications, to really extend and engage right at the edge, right at the touch point with my clients, with my customers. In some cases, with the parts of my business, like a manufacturer who can monitor in real time what's happening on the factory floor.

Yeah, no doubt. And I think the, like as you mentioned, IoT use cases are certainly becoming more and more pervasive. And I think we're seeing Moore's Law on full display with the level of computing power that is now on your wrist, as an example. So that just opens up a tremendous opportunity for organizations across virtually every sectors. I think what we found from the survey results was that laggards in this space are waiting. They don't believe that that technology and that edge computing capability really is there until, for example, 5G is pervasive. And that's just wrong. I think the, you know, there are lots and lots of things that can be done today relative to pushing that last mile compute power and analytics, and then therefore the customer experience right to the edge of those extended networks. And, you know, and in many ways not neglecting the infrastructure that already exists.

Yeah, I think that's true, Tom. There's so much that can happen with this today. You know, only 31% of our respondents felt that 5G was essential. That means that almost two thirds of the folks that are thinking about this are thinking about extended edge based on the technology and capabilities that they have today, even as we roll out more powerful networks. And as you think about engaging sort of in that extended world, the fifth trend that we uncovered was this idea of extended reality, and while I run downstairs and get my Oculus Quest headset pried out of my kids' hands. Can you tell us a little bit of sort of like what's going on in that area?

Yeah, I think we're right on the precipice of that type of technology really finding its home and its way into enterprise, or more business use cases. You know, as a recent example, we've had to meet virtually entire, you know, populations and ecosystems of our extended network. One of which, one important one being with the analyst community. We've recently stood up meetings that are over VR and are simulated with avatars in a really rich and engaging environment that almost feels like you're sitting across the desk from someone. You're really not, but that experience is starting to transcend the, you know, the analog with the digital. And I have great hope that it's not just meetings that will materialize in that type of format, but that all new sorts of automation and other business process types of experiences that involve constituents across, you know, across employee populations, from department-to-department, through ecosystem participants, be it partners, or brokers, or, you know, or extended supply chains. There's a whole range of interactions that are gonna become possible to get real work done as opposed to slaying Darth Vader, for example, Don.

We found that 81% of our respondents felt that in the next five years, extended reality, whether that's, you know, virtual reality, enhanced reality is gonna become an essential part of a differentiating customer experience. And what's really fascinating is leaders in this space, they aren't thinking incremental, they aren't thinking about little tweaks to existing experiences. They're thinking about fundamentally different experiences they can deliver. You know, think about how something like MagicBands at Disney Parks allows you to have this mix of physical and virtual experiences right where you're there. Where the band actually allows you to interact individually with animated things that arise. So if we ever get back to going to theme parks like that, you know, these kind of blended physical and digital experiences, I think we're gonna see more of. And I think we're gonna see them jump out of the world of theme parks and into the day-to-day ways in which we operate. Gartner has been talking a lot about this idea of total experience. You know, where I might be using a mix of traditional mobile devices, but also virtual reality when I go shopping for a car, or go shopping for a piece of clothing. And that mix of physical and virtual and extended all coming together to give a very different, but, in today's world, very necessary customer experience.

That trend is particularly exciting as it hits mainstream over the coming years. So maybe we'll just do a quick wrap. I think, you know, as we laid out, a lot going on in the hyper automation space, driven by intelligent automation and low-code tooling. A lot in the connected cloud world or distributed cloud. The, you know, AI governance, really taking on more importance around data privacy concerns. And just as Don mentioned very eloquently, the need to have empathy, understanding and transparency in the way those tools are working. And then, you know, last, but not least, but extended reality. And, you know, creating that hybrid experience that we live perhaps in our personal lives and bringing that into our professional lives as well.

And let's not forget the extended edge. You know, as we come out to all those devices that are out there, really being able to process and engage right on the very edge of some of our technology. And Tom, what's really exciting to me about these trends as well, you know, this is our 2025 vision. While we're taking a five year view, there are actions that people can take now. And without throwing in an unnecessary plug, one of the best ways that you can learn to engage with things like low-code and transparent AI and flexibility across the cloud and amazing experiences and distributed connected devices is gonna be PegaWorld 2021. You know, so our PegaWorld iNspire event, again, a virtual event. You could almost say an extended reality event. This year is gonna be happening in in May. And we'd love to have you join us. You can register for that up at If you want to learn more about, you know, some of the trends that we discovered, you can link right into the event to more detailed view of some of the research that we did. Some really exciting stuff. So, thanks for inviting me to come talk about this today, Tom.

Yeah, of course, Don. Thank you very much as always for your incredibly accurate prognostications around everything technology trends. So we'll try to hit a five for five again this year. And we'll see you all again next year. Thanks very much.

Bye, all.


Topic: AI and Decisioning Topic: Digital Transformation

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