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Insights from Gartner’s Top Strategic Tech Trends Report

According to Gartner’s report on the Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021, people centricity is one of the three key areas where companies looking for new market opportunities should focus. 

The “people centricity” approach posits that people – irrelevant of their role and relation (employees, customers, contractors, etc.) – are a company’s most important asset. By concentrating on human problems and needs, we can design processes and create a work environment that ensures smooth company operations.  

2020 was a trying year, filled with challenges that redefined the way many companies operated worldwide. Gartner’s report defines three trends in the field of people centricity which, if properly pursued, may help companies adapt to the new reality and spot opportunities where others see threats.

Internet of Behaviors

The Internet of Behaviors (IoB) is an expansion of the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT focuses chiefly on collecting information and automating the communication of web-connected devices, whereas the IoB searches data for patterns and uses them to influence human behavior in the physical world. The Internet of Behaviors combines three areas: technology, data analytics, and behavioral sciences.

In its analyses, the IoB uses information derived from various sources, including: 

  • Commercial (e.g. e-commerce). 
  • Public (e.g. city monitoring).
  • Private (e.g. IoT devices).

An increasing number of our everyday activities leave a trace on the Internet ("digital dust"), which may be used by private organizations to shape our experiences (positive or negative) and, consequently, to change specific behaviors.  

An example of IoB use is insurers’ programs that track car driving (e.g. Allstate’s Drivewise program). Based on an analysis of a driver's activity (speed of driving, mileage, parking places, etc.) the insurance company will decide what discounts can be granted to a given person. The company promotes safe driving by rewarding drivers who obey the law with the highest discounts.

As long as the IoB offers measurable benefits to consumers, most people will agree to share their data. Yet, we can easily picture a situation in which insurance companies start using data from sources like social media to calculate insurance premiums, using such data to assess the probability of risky behavior on the road. Customers may not love these methods. 

"IoB causes significant and omnipresent social and ethical implications. Collecting data with an aim of influencing human behavior may become a very powerful tool and its social perception will depend on how skillfully it will be handled by organizations."

Gartner Raport

Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021

According to Gartner's forecasts, in 2023 the Internet of Behaviors will track and analyze the digital activity of over 40% of people around the world. Along with the rising popularity of IoT devices, this technology will become increasingly refined. 

The general lack of regulation of personal data protection issues raises a serious ethical controversy concerning the scope and methods of companies’ data use. Therefore, establishing privacy protection regulations will soon be a key factor determining how the Internet of Behaviors will develop.

Total Experience

Total Experience (TX) encompasses a comprehensive experience for an entire organization. It combines employee experience (EX), customer experience (CX), and user experience (UX) to ensure the best impressions to all parties.

Total Experience offers a response to the new challenges faced by companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s become very clear that the experiences of particular groups in and around an organization intertwine and influence one another. 

Employees who’ve had to switch to online working need new procedures and systems so they can efficiently carry out their duties. Customers have completely new expectations in terms of security and health; at the same time, they want basically unchanged buying experiences.  

Yet, interactions with companies, both internal (employee – employee) as well as external (employee – customer, employee – contractor) have become highly dispersed and increasingly virtual. Many processes need to be redesigned. Thus, optimizing the experiences of particular groups who have an interest in the company, without accounting for the relations between them, seems insufficient.

"Gartner forecasts that organizations that take care of high TX standards will outperform the competition in terms of key customer satisfaction indicators over the course of the next three years."

Brian Burke

Research Vice President

Gartner

The Total Experience approach allows us to see various areas of company activity from the POV of different groups. Currently, most firms view optimizing the experiences of customers, users, and employees as separate challenges. Implementing a TX strategy opens a completely new perspective on that. It leads to identifying currently underdeveloped areas and designing new processes to stand out from the competition.

Privacy-Enhancing Computation

Privacy-enhancing computation is a group of different technologies which protect data. They comprise the following: 

  1. A trustworthy data processing environment.
  2. Decentralized data processing methods.
  3. Encrypting data and algorithms using advanced cryptographic methods like: 
  • Differential privacy.
  • Homomorphic encryption. 
  • Secure multiparty computation. 
  • Zero-knowledge proofs. 
  • Private set intersection. 
  • Private information retrieval.

Traditional data security methods focus mainly on protecting data at rest (i.e. data that’s recorded but not currently in use). However, privacy-enhancing computation allows companies to safely process and analyze collected data.  

According to Gartner, by 2025, 50% of large organizations will be using privacy-enhancing technologies. This is due to a growing number of legal regulations on data protection.  By 2023, it’s forecasted that legal measures will protect the data of 65% of Internet users, which is 6.5 times more than in 2020. 

Consumers’ awareness about the importance of privacy has been increasing yearly. This is illustrated by the rising popularity of non-tracking online search engines; for example, the number of searches that use DuckDuckGo has grown by over 56% since 2019.

Data security standards may become a vital factor in companies’ strategic decisions. For example, to many online shoppers, the word "privacy" is a purchase trigger that’s comparable to "organic" or "free trade" in other campaigns.   

"Privacy-oriented products will most probably pursue this trend. In order to boost customer trust, managers must create a holistic and flexible program of privacy protection across the entire organization and behave proactively, instead of just reacting to random jurisdiction challenges".

Bart Willemsen

Vice President Analyst

Gartner

Consumer privacy protection will be obligatory, and not just because of legal regulations. Increasingly, privacy is a battlefield where companies compete for clients and competitive advantage. Employing privacy-enhancing methods may help companies boost their trustworthiness and win customer confidence.

Last year’s experience proves that organizations that can swiftly adjust to changeable external conditions stand a much higher chance of succeeding in the long term. Exploring the trends defined by Gartner allows leaders to work out the necessary flexibility.  Companies that pursue the people centricity approach can design processes to help them respond to changes and better adapt to future requirements.