Gartner sees 'internet of behaviors,' automation, AI, experiences key 2021 technologies

Rest assured that Gartner has its share of buzzwords in its 2021 trends listing, but the technologies in whole tell a story. Here's a look at the trends and some color commentary.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The "internet of behaviors," total experiences, anywhere operations, automation and AI engineering are among the top strategic technologies for chief information officers for 2021, according to Gartner.

The research firm, which is holding its Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo virtually, outlined its top strategic technologies and the theme is "plasticity," or the ability to adapt to changing conditions. Gartner's top strategic technologies are clearly influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and how enterprises had to go digital in a hurry.

Rest assured that Gartner has its share of buzzwords in its 2021 trends listing, but the technologies in whole tell a story. Here's a look at the trends and some color commentary.

Internet of Behaviors, or IoB. Gartner argues that IoB combines technologies focused on tracking individuals such as location and facial recognition and connects the data and maps them to behavioral events. By 2025, half the world's population will be subject to an IoB commercial or government program.

If this IoB thing sounds creepy that's because it is. Gartner noted that IoB is technically possible but there will be ethical and societal debates ahead. The research firm is on target about the debate, but a lot of this IoB tracking is already in place. We'll get over it. When it comes to privacy we're all frogs being slowly boiled.

Total Experience, which is a combination of customer, employee and user experiences. Gartner said these experiences will be critical amid distributed organizations and those firms that get behind TX will boost satisfaction across the board.

There's something valid to the TX argument, but I'm not really looking forward to an "X" being tacked onto everything. I already have UX and CX fatigue.


Privacy-Enhancing Computation. Gartner's argument here is that global data protection laws will mature and securing data at rest isn't good enough. As a result, companies will aim to protect data in use while maintaining privacy. By 2025, half of large organizations will use privacy-enhancing computation to process multiparty data analytics.

Protecting data in transit and use will be critical. If anything companies are going to have to get to computational privacy faster.

Distributed cloud. Gartner argues that public cloud providers will be able to distribute services to different physical locations. This set-up can replace private cloud and edge deployments.

Think of this concept as edge computing on steroids--and managed by someone else.

Anywhere operations. The trend here is obvious: Companies will have to support business, customers and employees everywhere. Collaboration is one part, but automation and digital computing has a lot of weight too.

This prediction is clearly viewed through COVID-19 lenses. I think we'll have to get through the pandemic to see what the new normal is. Gartner said by the end of 2023, 40% of organizations will use anywhere operations models.

Cybersecurity mesh, which will allow anyone to access any digital asset securely anywhere. The win here is policy enforcement and policy decisions are decoupled.

Indeed, cybersecurity mesh sounds practical. This concept is the Gartner buzzword most likely to succeed.

Intelligent composable business. This concept revolves around machine enhanced decision making via data and insights. New business models and autonomous operations will emerge, said Gartner.

Gartner analysts spent their opening day keynote largely focused on the composable theme. The three components of this composable theme include:

  • Composable Thinking, which ensures creative thinking is never lost;
  • Composable Business Architecture, which ensure flexibility and resiliency;
  • Composable Technologies, which are the tools for today and tomorrow.

Color me skeptical given, but I'm sure this composable technology will make great marketing for vendors and consulting services.

AI engineering, which is the combination of DataOps, ModelOps and DevOps. Gartner said AI engineering will bring more returns on AI projects, which get stuck in prototyping almost half the time.

It's hard to turn down a trio of "Ops." Gartner may be on to something.

Hyperautomation. Businesses will look to automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Gartner said the automation trend can't be reversed.

Rest assured, automation won't reverse, but there will be societal issues to be addressed.

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