Gartner’s Top Technology Trends for 2021

Gartner's top technology trends

Gartner’s top technology trends for 2021 has been released. It is expecting major technology trends that will further disrupt the IT world.These trends are anticipated to create massive opportunities for both vendors and solution providers.

No-one could have truly predicted the curveball that 2020 has thrown our way, but across all industries companies are changing the way they work due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s no different in the technology industry, where organisations are shifting their innovation and investment strategies. The only difference with tech is that’s it’s clearly a lifeline for businesses during this period.

According to Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner “The unprecedented socioeconomic challenges of 2020 demand the organizational elasticity to transform and compose the future.”

An example of this is employees returning to work and finding that there are new sensors, RFID tags and behavioural data technology that are influencing how they behave at work. Gartner has dubbed this new collection of data intended to drive behaviours as the Internet of Behaviour (IoB). This is one of the nine trends the new “Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021” report.

Here are the nine biggest technology trends Gartner predicts will disrupt the market next year

IoB: Guiding How Employees Behave at Work

According to the report, when the employees of a company returned to the industrial site after a temporary Covid-19 related closure, they saw that RFID tags were being used to see whether they were washing their hands regularly. Computer vision was also employed to determine whether employees were wearing masks, and speakers were used to warn employees of violations in protocol. The behavioural data collected and analysed to influence how people behave in the workplace is called the Internet of Behaviour (IoB).

IoB will affect how companies interact with its people as they improve not only the amount of data they capture, but also how they combine data from various sources to use it. The IoB can gather, combine and process data from various different sources including citizen data processed by public agencies, commercial customer data, location tracking and social media.

The developing innovation of technologies that process this data has allowed this trend to flourish. It is important to note however, that privacy laws vary greatly depending on geography. This means there will be an impact on the scale and adoption of the IoB.

Total Experience

The “total experience” trend is defined by Gartner as combining the employee experience, customer experience and user experience to transform a business outcome. So, the goal is to enhance the overall experience where all pieces intersect- from employees to customers, users and to technology.

Gartner said that by tightly linking the experiences, as opposed to separately improving them will set a business ahead of its competitors in way that’ll be difficult to replicate, “creating sustainable competitive advantage.”

A use case laid out in the report is the way a telecommunications company changed its entire customer experience to improve satisfaction and safety. The organisation launched an appointment system via an already-existing app that enabled customers to receive a notification when they arrived for their appointment and were withing 75 feet of the shop. The notification then guided them through the check-in process and an alert let them know how long they had to wait before they were allowed to safely enter. They also adjusted their service by enabling their employees to use tablets to co-browse customer’s devices without having to physically touch the hardware and included more digital kiosks. Gartner said that it resulted in “a safer, more seamless and integrated overall experience” for the company’s employees and customer.

If a company has a “total experience” they’ll be enabled to capitalise on Coronavirus disrupters such as remote work, mobile, and distributed customers in 2021.


A trend that is set to see a major acceleration in 2021 will be around automating as much as possible. The idea behind hyperautomation is that anything can be automated in an organisation, should be.

Hyperautomation is driven by businesses having legacy processes that aren’t streamlined. According to Gartner many companies in 2020 are supported by technologies that aren’t optimised, lean, explicit or connected. At the same time, digital business acceleration needs speed, democratisation and efficiency.  

“Organizations that don’t focus on efficiency, efficacy and business agility will be left behind,” Gartner said.

Anywhere Operations

According to Gartner, “anywhere operations model will be vital for businesses to emerge successfully from COVID-19” in 2021.

You’ll find an operating model that allows for business to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere regardless of where employees, customers and business partners operate in remote environments at the core of the anywhere operation trend.

For example, banks that are mobile-only handle everything from opening accounts to transferring money with no actual physical interaction. The default for businesses should now be digital. Even though having a physical office space still has its place, banks should be enhanced digitally.

The anywhere operations model in 2021 and beyond should be “digital first, remote first” according to the report.

Distributed Cloud

The distributed cloud is defined by Gartner as where cloud services are distributed to different physical locations, but the governance, operation and evolution remain the public cloud provider’s responsibility. Growing over the past few years, the trend has seen many organisations moving or in the process of moving some of their data and applications to the public cloud.

The distributed cloud will better enable companies to have these services physically closer, which will in turn solve issues with low-latency, data cost reductions and help accommodate data privacy laws regarding geographical storage. Organisation will however still benefit from the economics of a public cloud and won’t need to manage their own private cloud, which can end up being expensive and complicated.

Cybersecurity Mesh

A cybersecurity mesh is a distributed architectural approach to flexible, reliable, and scalable cybersecurity control. This essential security trend comes as more and more assets are now existing outside the traditional security perimeter.

A cybersecurity mesh essentially allows for a security perimeter to be defined around the identity of an object or a person. This security strategy allows for a more responsive and modular security approach by centralising policy orchestrations and distributing policy enforcement.

According to Gartner the security approach of a “walled city” will evolve to meet the modern cybersecurity needs of business as perimeter protection becomes less meaningful in 2021.

As perimeter protection becomes less meaningful in 2021, the security approach of a “walled city” will evolve to meet the modern cybersecurity needs of every business, Gartner said.

Intelligent Composable Business

A company that can “adapt and fundamentally rearrange” itself according to a situation such as COVID-19 is an intelligent composable business.

In 2020, one of Gartner’s top technology trends sees companies accelerating their digital business strategy to propel faster digital transformation so as to become more agile.  As per the Gartner report, this will be one of the biggest trends in 2021.

To achieve this, organisations must enable better access to information, enhance the data with better insight and have the ability to respond quickly to the implications of the gathered insights. The trend will also encompass increasing democratization and autonomy across companies, allowing parts of businesses to react quickly instead of being slowed down the processes that are inefficient.

AI Engineering

A strong AI engineering strategy is worth investing in as it’ll create the scalability, performance and interpretability of AI models while delivering the full value of AI investments. According to Gartner many AI project face problems when it comes to governance, maintainability, and scalability.

AI engineering then offer a pathway and AI becomes part of mainstream DevOps processes rather than staying a set of isolated and specialised projects. It manages to bring together various disciplines that tame the hype around AI while also providing a clear path to value when the combination of multiple AI techniques is operationalised.

Responsible AI is an emerging trend in 2021 that deals with fairness, interpretability, trust, transparency and compliance issues.

Gartner said, “It is the operationalisation of AI accountability”.

Privacy-Enhancing Computation

In terms of being people-centric, one of Gartner’s top technology trends of 2021 is around privacy-enhancing computation. This trend features three technologies that collectively protect data while it’s being used. The first one provides a secure and trusted environment in which data can be analysed or processed. The second technology performs analytics and processing in a decentralised manner, while the third encrypts data and algorithms prior to analytics and processing.

Organisations are enabled to “collaborate on research securely across regions and white competitors without sacrificing confidentiality.” It is an approach specifically designed for the need to share data while also maintaining security or privacy.

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