Gartner’s 2021 tech predictions: How we stack up

The pandemic has a ripple effect on everything from the cloud to cybersecurity.

Dec 11, 2020 by Stefan Groschupf

2021 tech trends, including hyperautomation and IoB.

What’s ahead for the tech world in 2021? Global research and advisory firm Gartner looked into its crystal ball to identify top trends, many of which reflect the fact that the ongoing pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. Distributed cloud, distributed cybersecurity architecture, and location-independent operations, along with robust AI engineering, all get big play in the firm’s list — anticipating that we’re all going to be working from our couches a bit longer.

While some of these trends, like hyperautomation, are not new and were mentioned in Gartner’s previous tech predictions (see our take on hyperautomation done right), plenty of what’s new on the 2021 list seems spot on.  

We wanted to see how future-proof our platform is in light of where Gartner believes the world is headed. Here’s how we stack up against their 9 trends.

Trend 1: the Internet of Behaviors

This was up for discussion way back in 2014, but it’s increasingly relevant as technology becomes deeply ingrained in our everyday habits. Essentially, this means using data to influence behavior through feedback loops.

While Gartner focuses on personal safety (installing sensors or RFID tags to tell whether employees have washed their hands), the IoB plays out in hundreds of ways in the broader business world. 

How we stack up: Beyond physical actions, IoB comes up in the form of decision-making. Does an invoice usually sit in Bill’s queue for three days before it gets sent to Stacy and then the manager, Sheryl? 

With employees permanently remote, it’s more important than ever to map your company’s core business processes end to end — whether that’s account signups, invoice processing or some other critical function. Process mining, never a glamorous pursuit, will now be a bigger driver of business strategy as companies chart out how employees get work done, and how to optimize each step.

Automation Hero’s Hero_Sonar stands apart from other process mining tools in that it can analyze and understand behavior, including the most complex business processes. We simply need the “who,” “what,” and “when” — and based on this we can visualize behavior around any kind of process. Then we turn that into an AI model that optimizes future processes. Robin, our automation assistant, brings humans into the loop for feedback.

Our process mining tool, Hero_Sonar, can visualize behavior around any kind of business process.

Trend 2: Total experience

This is customer experience writ large, a signal from Gartner that indicates customer experience is now so important that everything from employee experience to user experience gets wrapped into it. 

How we stack up: One of the best ways to fully understand and reshape a customer experience is to map it out (as suggested above) using Hero_Sonar. The process mapping tool lets you see and then automate, for example, all steps in an engagement journey. This can result in faster response times for customers or your employees having a better grasp of how they might improve the customer experience. On the employee experience front, Automation Hero can automate employees’ most mind-numbing repetitive tasks, which ultimately improves their work experience.

Trend 3: Privacy-enhancing computation

According to Gartner, this trend involves three technologies that protect data: 

  1. a trusted environment in which sensitive data can be processed or analyzed
  2. a way to do processing and analytics in a decentralized manner
  3. a way to encrypt data and algorithms before processing or analytics

How we stack up: When more employees work from home, personal and sensitive data must by necessity leave the company’s controlled, secured networks. But here’s where automation comes in. As more data can be processed “dark” (without humans), the more secure that data becomes. And as more data decisions are automated with AI (think of insurance claims of a routine nature or low dollar amount) this means less data leaves the company network and lowers the risk of information winding up in the wrong hands. 

Trend 4: Distributed cloud

This means cloud services exist in different physical locations, but operation and governance responsibilities remain with the public cloud provider.

How we stack up: Automation Hero is built for distributed cloud and is arguably the first platform that truly supports it. Specifically, our platform is built in a way that it can run in a distributed cluster made from servers that live in different cloud environments, e.g. with three servers in AWS, three in Google Cloud, three in MSFT Azure, three in a private cloud, etc. This increases reliability, as the system will still run if one of the clouds goes down.

Trend 5: Anywhere operations

It’s another trend that’s been building steam for years but is now boiling hot because of the pandemic. As Gartner notes, “an anywhere operations model will be vital for businesses to emerge successfully from COVID-19.”

How we stack up: Automation Hero is designed specifically for anywhere operations, mainly because we can make even legacy systems like mainframes digital-first. Let’s say a batch of unstructured data sits in a system in one part of the company, and you need to merge it with structured data in another system. Our connectors can pull together all those data sources to inform intelligent action, with the platform acting as something of a nervous system. 

Trend 6: Cybersecurity mesh

This is a particularly thorny problem, as companies have seen a dramatic uptick in cyber attacks, even on cybersecurity companies themselves. It’s even trickier with more people working from home, as hackers can take advantage of the weaker security of home networks. 

How we stack up: Plenty of companies specialize in cybersecurity. We do not. Our platform is highly secure, protects personally identifiable information (PII) and has robust authentication, authorization and encryption capabilities. Automation and AI can also be useful for pulling together different security environments.

Trend 7: Intelligent composable business

According to Gartner, this means a company can adapt quickly to its current situation, ultimately “increasing autonomy and democratization across the organization, enabling parts of the businesses to quickly react instead of being bogged down by inefficient processes.”

How we stack up: This concept is core to the Automation Hero platform. We let companies build self-contained automations to solve a specific business problem — let’s say that’s customer onboarding, or charging a customer. You can then run these automations as microservices, building them via point and click. These “automation services” then work together as a new business process or even a whole new business offering. 

We also enable parts of any business to react quickly by providing point-and-click capabilities around things like AI models and connectors. This appeals to less technical users, and increases autonomy and democratization across the organization through a platform that’s centrally managed by IT but accessible for everyone else. 

Trend 8: AI engineering

Investments in artificial intelligence have been big for years, but now Gartner believes “AI engineering” — in other words, making AI scalable and sustainable for the long haul — will be more important in the years ahead. 

How we stack up: Making AI accessible and real for more people inside a company is another core tenant at Automation Hero. Our platform offers point-and-click AI capabilities for both data scientists and citizen data scientists, which means you don’t have to have an army of data scientists on staff to successfully use AI. We can operationalize new or existing AI models at massive scale, which means AI becomes more distributed, fail-tolerant, and secure.

Trend 9: Hyperautomation

Gartner’s definition of this term has evolved slightly, and now means: “anything that can be automated in an organization should be automated.” It also gets new context around legacy businesses. In short, any company with outdated processes that are not “lean, optimized, connected, clean or explicit,” will be left behind by faster-moving, digital-native companies. 

How we stack up:  When this buzzy new term took off in early 2020, we argued that smart automation for enterprise companies is hyperautomation. Companies that use traditional RPA vendors to speed up processes here and there end up with a stack of internal systems duct taped together, with simplistic automations running on top of legacy software. 

This has the indirect effect of cementing the legacy software in place. Instead of automating in this piecemeal way, enterprise companies should take a step back to see the bigger picture, automating not just for temporary productivity boosts but also in a way that leads to fully autonomous processes that fuel long-term business goals. 

Automation Hero is arguably the first true end-to-end platform built for hyperautomation, since it is an agile, iterative platform that can incorporate new information and workflows. It goes beyond RPA, natively integrating AI and other tools that Gartner highlights, including intelligent business management software (iBPMS), process mining, analytics and decision modeling.