7 Disruptive Technologies You Might Not See Coming

June 15, 2023

Contributor: Lori Perri

The indirect effects are what’s especially transformative about these technologies.

Some of tomorrow’s biggest digital disruptions are likely to result from technologies that today seem far-off or far-fetched. “Seismic change does not happen overnight,” says VP Analyst Ben Pring. “But ignoring a disruption in its early stages typically makes the entry price later in the disruption’s development cycle more costly — strategically, financially, existentially.”

7 Technology Disruptions for 2023-2028

Flying cars and digital humans might seem to have little in common, but they are both examples of technology disruptions likely to change the world as we know it. Here are seven such disruptions that may start small but could grow to be quite pervasive.

No. 1: Metaverse is reimagining work experiences

What is disrupted?

The metaverse provides an immersive digital environment by virtualizing human experiences. It will disrupt many aspects of business, including:

  • Financial models 

  • Buying and selling 

  • Organizational style 

  • Collaborative experiences 

Virtual reality (VR), long heralded by some and ridiculed by others, lies at the heart of this disruption so skeptics risk being blindsided as VR begins to challenge many aspects of the real world, from media and entertainment to business interactions.

How to prepare

To capture the opportunity of VR in work experiences, IT services vendors should focus on creating consulting and development offerings that help their clients reimagine how processes, systems, experiences and infrastructure enable and optimize the new emerging VR world. For example, an organization with a downsized office footprint will need high-availability, secure VR environments for staff to work in and customers to engage with. A public-sector organization offering vital services to citizens will need to ensure that these services will be easy to access. A manufacturing enterprise leveraging VR to design and make physical parts will need its technology leaders to lead in new approaches that will challenge the less technologically agile.

No. 2: Flying cars take off for low-level airspace

What is disrupted?

Flying cars, long a cool dream, are slowly inching toward reality with prototypes being developed by both startups and divisions of large transportation organizations. Low-level airspace will be radically disrupted by these innovations. Entirely new transportation models could emerge for people and business, while density drops on terrestrial roads. Indirect effects include: 

  • Air traffic control systems having to manage crowded airways 

  • Significant technology investments being needed

  • Cities being reshaped by vertical lanes

  • Faster commutes extending suburban areas into rural ones

How to prepare

The entire value chain of a new industry has to be created, and it will be entirely reliant on the development of code, systems and processes that IT services providers can develop and optimize. General managers of IT services providers should be investing (at a minimum) in developing relevant points of view of how this trend will develop — both for the transportation industry and businesses reliant on transportation — to be a good partner to those looking to innovate in this early-stage new market.

No. 3: Digital humans become less robotic (than humans)

What is disrupted?

Digital humans are becoming more and more like real people. They are readily available and have the ability to interact over a screen to handle a service-based issue or provide customer service instantly. As digital human software is integrated with natural language processing and robotic process automation tools, digital humans will become more of a presence in workflows of more and more processes. Digital humans can potentially take over in any area of human-to-human interaction — seeing a doctor, consulting with a tax accountant, watching the news, receiving your annual work evaluation.

How to prepare

Consulting leaders should focus, both singly and in tandem with leaders of other parts of an organization, on crafting approaches their clients can use to leverage a digital human workforce. Service delivery leaders — particularly within business process outsourcing providers — should be developing a strategy to deploy digital humans within their service delivery functions.

No. 4: Decentralized autonomous organizations tap into blockchain

What is disrupted?

A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) is a digital entity, running on a blockchain (which provides a secure digital ledger for communication tracking), that can engage in business interactions with other DAOs, digital and human agents, as well as corporations, without conventional human management. DAO will disrupt in the following ways: 

  • Allowing workers to monetize open-source-style work, which currently is often hard to do

  • Not offering employees the opportunity to be stakeholders and have a voice (career ownership)

DAOs represent a way of handling business and changes the structure of the communication we have grown accustomed to. DAOs have the potential to be attractive to employees and organizations seeking to satisfy customer demand.

How to prepare

General managers within IT services providers should familiarize themselves with this idea because it has the potential to develop and disrupt business as usual at an unusually quick rate, given its inherently “viral” digital nature. They should also analyze the root causes of the problems to which DAOs are a solution, namely dissatisfaction and disillusionment among many employees with the nature of existing organizational models. And lastly, they should evaluate the potential for a DAO-based service delivery model to sit adjacent to current existing approaches.

No. 5: Electric vehicle charging goes wireless

What is disrupted?

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) has been on the rise for many years and currently accounts for approximately 4.6% of all new vehicles globally. The shortage of easy, efficient recharging options remains a major hurdle to adoption. Wireless charging could help speed up the rollout, offering real-time, in-motion-based charging, with EVs drawing power from (a) the road and (b) other better-charged cars. The resulting disruptions are as follows:

  • Automobiles becoming increasingly infused with software

  • Challenge of creating “smart” roads

How to prepare

General managers of IT services providers focused on the automotive industry should look to develop capabilities that will assist their clients to add EV wireless charging technologies to their development roadmaps. Understanding leading-edge areas, such as wireless charging, will create opportunities for IT services providers in terms of competitive advantage through alignment of thought leadership and service portfolio.

No. 6: Graphene eclipses silicon in computing

What is disrupted?

Graphene, a form of carbon potentially usable as a semiconductor in electronic devices, offers better price and performance possibilities than traditional semiconductor materials. Graphene conducts heat and electricity very efficiently and could be the solution to faster and more powerful computing and electronics technology. It will be disruptive in the following areas: 

  • Extraction methodologies 

  • Chip manufacturing tooling 

  • Extension to the worldwide competitive landscape

  • Geopolitical implications and consequences

Graphene could extend Moore’s Law, an observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. Other materials in chip manufacturing have reached their limits, threatening the ongoing significance of Moore’s Law.

How to prepare

General managers within IT and business consulting companies should look to understand the likely future development of graphene within semiconductor technology. Focus over the next 18 to 36 months on helping clients conduct due diligence on suppliers to make sure they are leveraging up-to-date technologies that will remain relevant for the medium to long term.

No. 7: Technology becomes disposable, so you can swap it in and out

What is disrupted?

Composability/disposability is fast emerging in IT, allowing CIOs to swap technologies in and out to accelerate technology innovation and meet user demand. 

Disposable technology is a disruption to all tech but is inevitable given consumer/customer demand. Disruptions will impact:  

  • Every tech provider looking to sell products and services long term

  • Business models for complex technology, generating maintenance fees

How to prepare

General managers of technology service providers must retool their development methodologies and the fundamental architectural choices they make in building their products and services. Direct technical leaders create architectural reference models that facilitate “swap and replace” between different component technologies and lead their own organizations in understanding the risks and limitations of long-term strategic bets that hinge on specific technologies.

Ben Pring is VP Analyst at Gartner and a member of the Gartner for General Managers program, Gartner’s advisory services that consults with and counsels Gartner’s most senior industry clients.

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