Five Years Forward Inside a Zeitgeist of Transition

As you’ve noticed, the world is changing.

Gathering some recent Gartner predictions combined with my own market insights, we look at some of the more interesting challenges that the pandemic and technological advances have co-joined to inspire over the next five years.


Gartner predicts that by 2024, 25% of traditional large enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results, effectively becoming “COO by proxy.”

The role of the chief operating officer (COO) is increasing in importance among born-digital companies. It’s essential to have a COO in place in order to achieve digital success.

In addition, by 2025, traditional computing technologies will have hit their limit, forcing the shift to new technologies such as DNN-on-a-chip or neuromorphic computing, artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, speech recognition, extreme parallelism, DNA storage, and chemical computing.

Soon, almost all conversations at work will be recorded and analyzed, enabling the discovery of added organizational value or risk among other things. The analytics of these conversations will be used to help companies comply with existing laws and regulations and predict future behavior and performance.

Digital surveillance technology use will come with ethical considerations and privacy rights and create new forums for intense debate.


Thirty percent of digital businesses will mandate DNA storage trials, addressing the exponential growth of data poised to overwhelm existing storage technology and more advanced systems will be necessary as the computing needs of humanity evolve. These systems will be capable of radical adaptation and resilience in complex and hostile environments.

DNA is inherently resilient and capable of error checking and self-repair, so it is an ideal data storage and computing platform for a range of applications.

Physical Computing

Forty percent of physical experience-based businesses will improve financial results and outperform competitors by extending into paid virtual experiences.

The Internet of Things (IoT), and digital twins virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are currently making immersive experiences more appealing and affordable and the pandemic has accelerated demand. Increasingly, physical experience companies will begin building and acquiring skills in disciplines related to creating, delivering, and supporting immersive virtual experiences.

Social Voice

By 2024, 30% of major organizations will use a new “voice of society” metric to act on societal issues and assess the impacts on their business performance. A shared perspective of people in a community will drive the desire to represent and shift ethical values toward a commonly acceptable outcome. Opinion-based metrics will be used as businesses expand to use these measurement tactics. They will be of equal value to today’s tangible metrics such as click-through rates.

Companies who prepare now for this societal sentiment leverage will succeed as this market metric emerges while companies who ignore, resist, or make shallow attempts will fail. This is the re-imagining of the Cluetrain Manifesto returning to life twenty years after its inception.


In the wake of COVID-19, the global worker demand for childcare assistance will become even more challenging with Gartner predicting that one in five childcare centers will have permanently closed by early 2021.

Large companies will begin to repurpose empty facility spaces for childcare or educational services to meet this increased demand and increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention, particularly among women in the workforce.

Content Corruption

By 2024 content moderation services for user-generated content will be surveyed as a top CEO priority in 30% of large organizations.

Content volatility on social media has increased with the social unrest of the past year. Fueled in large part by the Influence of Cyber-ops on behalf of America’s adversaries, the phenomena has created major brand-safety concerns for marketers and advertisers. Enterprises will increasingly invest in content moderation, enforcement, and reporting services to understand the providence of the content on their sites, and in content analytics to measure the actual share-of-voice and engagement their content is pulling from the markets.

In many cases today, brands are going dark altogether on user-generated content platforms until appropriate policing measures are put in place. Both site and app publishers must walk the line between enforcing policies to provide a safe environment and being accused of censorship.

Ultimately, brand advertisers will become responsible for neutralizing polarizing content, and industry standards for content moderation will emerge.

Whichever of these predictions emerges faster than expected or fails to ignite at all, the next five years in information technology and security will invite a wild ride for privacy, ethics, and truth. Those who hedge and take action now will enjoy a competitive advantage as the technology clock spins faster, while those who hunker down and resist what may appear to be surface signals bumping around in a noisy atmosphere will offer their future to fate and accept the consequences.

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