When it comes to advances in technology, it’s the companies that are able to get ahead of the curb that reap the benefits.

The digital landscape may be vastly different within a few years, and for companies seeking to stay relevant it could be a case of sink or swim.

At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017 in October last year, Gartner shared its top predictions for IT organisations and in 2018 and beyond, shedding light on what could be the next things in tech.

Voice and visual search functions will grow

Gartner forecasts that by 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.

“Consumer demand for voice devices — embodied by products such as Amazon Echo and Google Home — is expected to generate $[US]3.5 billion by 2021,” Gartner observed.

“Brands that are able to develop ways to leverage systems that can take a handoff, so to speak, from the devices will see rapid growth in digital commerce revenue.”

Five of the top seven digital giants will “self-disrupt” by 2020

Digital giants, such as Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Baidu, , Google, Microsoft and Tencent, will likely “run into situations where their influence has grown so large that it is difficult to create new value scenarios”, according to Gartner.

“This ultimately leads to self-disruption,” Gartner said, noting that while it may be a risky strategy, the “risk of inaction can be even higher”.

Fake news may be just the beginning

Fake news continues to be a hot topic, and Gartner’s point to the creation of digital content that is not a factual or authentic representation of information going well beyond news. In the context of social -dominated discourse, Gartner says this presents a problem for businesses.

Gartner forecasts that by 2022 most people in ‘mature economies’ will consume more false than true information.

“Enterprises need to not only monitor closely what is being said about their brands directly, but also in what contexts, to ensure they are not associated with content that is detrimental to their brand value,” Gartner stated.

AI-driven creation of to outpace itself

Gartner predicts the next wave of counterfeit reality — “the digital creation of images, video, documents, or sounds that are convincingly realistic representations of things that never occurred or existed exactly as represented” — will be machine-generated content.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to create counterfeit reality has accelerated over recent years, meaning its own ability to detect counterfeit reality is currently lagging behind.

Enterprises keen on bots and

Gartner expects by 2021 more than 50% of enterprises will be spending more per annum on bot and chatbot creations than traditional mobile app developments.

“Bots have the ability to transform the way apps themselves are built and the potential to change the way that users interact with technology,” the company said.

“The appropriate use of bots is also likely to increase employee or customer engagement, as they can quickly automate tasks to free up the workforce for more non-standard , including question-and-answer interactions, when deployed as chatbots or virtual assistants.”

AI to create more jobs than losses

Gartner forecasts in 2020 AI will create 2.3 million jobs, while eliminating only 1.8 million jobs.

“Net job creation or elimination will vary greatly by ; some industries will experience overall job loss, some industries will experience net job loss for only a few years; and some industries, such as healthcare and education, will never experience net job loss,” Gartner said.

“AI will improve the productivity of many jobs, and, used creatively, it has the potential to enrich people’s careers, reimagine old tasks and create new industries.”

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