The Top 10, Top 10 Predictions for 2020

Published December 10, 2019

As each year comes to a close, tech pundits blow the dust off their crystal balls and share their predictions for the coming year. As someone who has (let's generously say) repurposed others' since 2012 rather than thinking up my own, I’ll cite what some of the smart folks I read expect to happen...

IDC: Top 10 worldwide IT predictions for 2020 – IDC’s prediction list focuses on what many organizations, including F5, are going through: a digital transformation. This changing environment uses technology to improve business operations. As such, more budget will be slotted for digital initiatives; and within a few years, most enterprises will become software engines with new code deployed daily. 90% of applications will be cloud native, and 70% of enterprises will deploy with a hybrid/multi/unified cloud environment. Apps and edge computing will explode, with the number of apps at the edge increasing 800%. AI will obviously play a role, and interestingly, cross-industry mashups will emerge to drive revenue. My advice? Start to look beyond your typical tech partners when anticipating future needs.

Edge Computing, AI Security Among Top 10 Technology Trends for 2020 – Channel Futures channels Gartner’s David Cearley with the transformative trends driving people-centric experiences. At the top is hyperautomation: having machines automate manual tasks once performed by humans. To an extent this has been happening for years, but hyperautomation goes beyond simple repetitive tasks by using AI and machine learning to perform complex interactions such as car rentals or customer service needs. We can expect voice recognition to play a major role here, as digital experiences become far more immersive. We will also be able to augment both our physical and cognitive abilities with wearables and/or implants, making digital ethics and data privacy even more critical. Transparency, traceability and security are paramount, and trust in who has our data (and what they do with it) will be key. Common 2020 themes on the list include distributed clouds, the empowered edge and autonomous things. 2020 is ramping up to be the year of data collection and how you use it.

10 Emerging Cloud Computing Trends To Watch In 2020 – CRN drops their annual trending 2020 list, and Kubernetes snags 3 of the spots. As multi-cloud morphs into ‘omni-cloud,' Kubernetes will blur the barriers to allow rival clouds to extend into each other. Various services will span clouds and customer workloads. We can expect more consolidation and acquisitions, especially in the security space. Also interesting is something they call “private cloud repatriation”: as organizations become more comfortable with cloud deployments, they’ll determine the best environment for the workload. Public to private (and back again) will be a two-way street as more software-defined data centers emerge. With that, a new role for specialized IT pros will be SaaSOps. The internet, like the universe, is expanding rapidly.

Predictions 2020: This time, cyberattacks get personal – I know I said this was a roundup of top 10 lists, but am making an exception for Forrester Research analyst Jeff Pollard offering his top three cybersecurity predictions for 2020. His take: as our lives become increasingly intertwined with computer technology, that tech will increasingly become a target. If you thought nation-states were weaponizing data on their populations now, just wait. Data is the new oil, as they say; and restricting access to data could allow regimes to manipulate geopolitics and society to an unprecedented degree. M&A activity will continue to consolidate our data and make it available to the most powerful individuals and organizations. As data collection continues, and the value of that data grows, folks will go to extreme measures to get it. Right now, we’re seeing phishing scams become more sophisticated and effective—but get ready for deepfakes to blow that away. Pollard says that the costs associated with deepfake scams will exceed $250 million in 2020. (Perfect—just in time for the U.S elections…) Machine learning and AI-enabled solutions could help, but customers may balk at allowing their data to be used for such purposes.

Gartner's top 10 strategic predictions for 2020 – This one covers one of my favorite topics: how tech impacts humans and society. Gartner predicts that AR and VR will help those with disabilities to such an extent that by 2023, we’ll see triple the number of disabled people in the workforce thanks to technology reducing barriers to access. For instance, a paralyzed restaurant employee can control a robot that serves meals. The benefits will include higher retention rates, employee productivity and profits, along with greater community goodwill. Meanwhile, more advanced AI will be able to determine our emotions to help companies influence our buying decisions. Wearables will introduce BYOE (bring your own enhancement) to the office to improve workplace productivity and safety. Content will be authenticated to combat deepfakes; and we’ll all be tracked in some form, creating the Internet of Behavior. Oh, and AI/ML algorithms will fail at scale, with significant consequences.

10 Predictions How AI Will Improve Cybersecurity In 2020 – Forbes says that cybersecurity is at an inflection point entering 2020, with the visible impact of AI and ML—along with real-time data and analytics—making it easier to justify greater spending in the coming year. For asset management, AI/ML are keeping endpoints secure and determining what devices are network connected. AI is also helping the bad guys analyze defense mechanisms and patterns to escape security controls; and it’s being used for account takeover and for detecting third-party supply chain vulnerabilities. All of this means that both the white hats and the black hats are using AI to both penetrate and defend the infrastructure, making “AI vs. AI” the battle for the coming decade.

Top 10 Latest Predictions for IoT in 2020 – There are approximately 7.7 billion people in the world, yet there will be 20.4 billion IoT connected devices in 2020. The robots have surpassed humans—just consider the ratio of smart devices currently installed in your home to the humans living there. 5:1? 14:1? IoT is everywhere: in healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation, in Smart Cities and Smart Stores. They add to and take from Big Data to process information, using that information to drive even more advances in technology. With this widespread adoption of IoT, security systems and controls are needed more than ever. Home security systems and personal medical devices are prime targets for attacks, and there are still many, many smart devices out there that are incredibly dumb when it comes to security.

10 Mobile Trends To Watch Out For In 2020 – We are mobile, our devices are mobile, the networks we connect to are mobile, and the applications we access are mobile. Mobility, in all its iterations, is a huge enabler and concern for enterprises. Probably the biggest expectation for mobile in 2020 is 5G. With carrier rollouts happening and device support, including iPhone, coming, 2020 could be the year for 5G. Smartphone growth might see a comeback in the fall as consumers start grabbing the latest and greatest devices. After a slight hiccup in 2019, foldable devices will be all the rage, and these devices will be “always connected” as 5G spreads. A 5G laptop is in the works, and we’ll probably see new iterations of battery technology to power these always-connected things. More devices will keep pushing the BYOD envelope, but now with a renewed interest in mobile threat defense. You got anti-virus for those connected shoes?

5 Adtech Predictions For 2020 – Well, 5 = 10 divided by 2, so I’ll allow these predictions from Adobe onto the list. As more organizations emerge from the current era of digital transformation, advertising technology is expected to record exponential growth between now and 2023. (I don’t think I’ve ever included advertising predictions in the annual ‘Top 10, Top 10’ list but these days it seems increasingly relevant.) Privacy regulations such as GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act are making first-party data even more important. If you’ve been using third-party data that was potentially collected without consent, you may need to reevaluate your data collection plans. It’s not just regulators that are pushing, either. Concerned clients are also asking the hard questions about privacy and data use. If you keep using outside lists, those customers could lose trust in the brand. In addition, as more customer-centric experiences move to digital, storytelling and creativity will be the big winners. How do you separate yourself from other brands? By being unique, creative, and pursuing a higher cause than simply increasing shareholder value—whether it’s doing good on a local scale, or a global one.

23 Hilarious Predictions About the Year 2020 Made Long Ago – To close out this year’s Tops list, I thought it would be fun to see what folks way-back-when predicted about 2020. From flying, hose-cleaned houses to nuclear-powered vacuums and the letters C, X, and Q being banished from the alphabet, many theories have been put forward about what the impossibly far-future year of 2020 will look like. Some are relatively close to what we see today, and others are just plain bizarre. I’m not sure that I’d like to have only one toe, as a surgeon predicted in 1911, but I would definitely take a personal helicopter. Probably the most futuristic prediction was from Cisco’s Dave Evans, who claimed that by 2020 there will be no need for futurists—because with all the data we’re gathering, and the algorithm tools available to analyze it using cloud computing, everyone will be able to predict the future.

Predictions of my own obsolescence notwithstanding, I predict I’ll be doing another Top 10, Top 10 next year. In the meantime, you can also explore 20 Long-Predicted Technologies That Are Never Going to Happen. Have fun, be good, and enjoy 2020.

Interested to see if any of the previous year’s prognoses came true?