In an effort to get companies thinking about their future in today’s fast-paced digital world, Gartner has made some radical predictions in its report "Top Strategic Predictions for 2016 and Beyond: The Future Is a Digital Thing". The growing popularity of Internet-connected devices, smart machines, and smart buildings are the driving forces behind them.
Here are five forecasts that might make you cringe:
More and more companies and consumers are connecting thermostats, lights, refrigerators, and other unconventional devices to the web. This phenomenon is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner predicts that there will be billions of IoT devices by 2018, almost half of which will have the ability to request support.
Although many of the IoT devices will have simple requests like "replace my battery," more sophisticated IoT devices might ask for other types of support. For instance, an Internet-connected vending machine or soap dispenser might ask for refills, while an Internet-connected refrigerator or air conditioner might remind you it is time for its routine maintenance.
Many companies currently provide employees with fitness trackers as part of wellness programs, but participation is usually optional. Gartner believes that this will change by 2018. It is predicting that 2 million people employed in jobs that are dangerous (e.g., police officers, firefighters) or physically demanding (e.g., professional athletes, industrial workers) will be required to wear fitness trackers. That way, employers can monitor their employees’ heart and respiration rates, providing medical assistance if needed.
By 2018, half of the fastest-growing companies will have more smart machines than employees, according to Gartner. Smart machines use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to make decisions and solve problems without human involvement. Driverless cars and smart locks that send a message to your smartphone when someone knocks on your door are examples of smart machines.
Gartner believes that startups and other newer companies will be the first to fully embrace smart machines because the machines are scalable. Plus, it will be cheaper and faster for the companies to set up and use smart machines compared to recruiting, hiring, training, and employing staff.
Robo bosses are not robots or androids reminiscent of Star War’s C-3PO or Star Trek’s Data. Rather, they are smart machines that take on supervisory duties. For instance, robo bosses might route work or monitor workers’ performance based on measurements directly tied to their output. As such, robo bosses will be making decisions that were previously made by only human managers. Gartner is predicting that robo bosses will be supervising more than 3 million workers worldwide by 2018.
Twenty percent of the smart buildings connected to the Internet will be the target of digital vandalism by the end of 2018, according to Gartner. In most instances, the digital vandals will simply be trying to see what they can get away with. For example, they might change the message on a digital sign or turn off all the lights in a building. As such, their exploits will be more of a nuisance than a threat. In some instances, though, their actions could be more harmful. For example, turning off all the lights in a hospital could have more serious consequences.
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