Gartner Predicts Smart Machines Will Be Highly Disruptive

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014 have gotten a lot of press since they were released at their recent Symposium/ITxpo 2013. In a list that was dominated by mobile and cloud technologies, I was interested to see that “Smart Machines” were included.

Gartner describes smart machines as: “contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors (such as IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and [ ] autonomous vehicles.”  They go on to predict that the “smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.”

Based on the rest of their short trend description, I don’t have a good sense of why they believe smart machines will be so disruptive. They indicate that smart machines will continue the trend of ‘consumerization,” which I interpret to mean that they believe smart machine demand will be driven, or at least influenced, more by the consumer than by enterprise demand. I can see how that  might hold true for personal digital assistants, but not so much for IBM Watson-type cognitive computing systems or smart web-self service virtual agents. Those technologies are cost-prohibitive to consumers, at least at present.

I found this prediction to be of interest: “Gartner expects individuals will invest in, control and use their own smart machines to become more successful.” Again, that’s a pretty high-level statement that I’d like to dig into further. Perhaps we’ll see more  on this topic in future reports.

It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on how Gartner expands its research into the area smart machines and artificial intelligence as these trends impact enterprise IT.

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