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Digitisation’s labour reduction effect will cause social unrest: Gartner analyst

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 24, 2014
Predictions from Gartner’s team that delved into the top IT-related trends and changing priorities of the CIO

Brian Prentice

Brian Prentice, VP of Gartner Research

IT's disruptive influence will have major social repercussions in the coming years. According to Brian Prentice, VP of Gartner Research, one of the top future trends is the increasing effect of digitisation on labour.

"By 2020, the labour reduction effect of digitisation will cause social unrest," he said in a presentation today in Singapore. It means the world will see more "Occupy Wall Street" kind of movements in the near future. This will trigger "a quest for new economic models in several mature economies."

This current economic model presents a conundrum for both business leaders and political leaders of the world: The world's population will grow 9 billion over the next 50 years; however, as economies are getting increasingly digitised, there will be less and less jobs for humans. "CEOs and CIOs are focused on growing shareholder value, so this is not what concerns them," said Prentice. "However, this is a serious realisation that is setting in. They will have to think about society at large."

This trend will not only affect the jobs of blue collar workers (industrial workers), it will also affect the careers of knowledge workers.

"The rise of smart machines will impact jobs of knowledge workers in both positive and negative ways," said Prentice. He gave the example of Siri as a positive aid. However, a technology like Bitcoins might threaten jobs in the credit card industry (finance).

In his predictions, Prentice covered areas such as the digital industrial revolution, digital business, smart machines and the Internet of Things and how all these could disrupt the realities of our world.

3D printing

One of the major disruptions will come from 3D printing. "3D printing will determine most of our future," he said. "It will disrupt the supply chain dynamics."

By 2016, there will be many legal issues around the question of bioprinting (3D printing of tissues and human organs).

One of the side-effects of 3D printing will be an increase in counterfeiting of goods. "Counterfeit goods are inevitable," he said. "By 2018, 3D printing will result in the loss of at least US$100 billion per year in intellectual property globally."

Some of the other predictions by Gartner are as follows:

-         Digital business and crowdsourcing: By 2017, 75 percent of consumer innovation will come from crowdsourcing solution

-         Business of personal data: By 2017, 80 percent of consumers will trade or barter their personal data for cost savings or convenience.

-         Digital security gets more difficult to guarantee: By 2020, enterprises and governments will fail to protect 75 percent of sensitive data


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