The 'Not This Year' Tech Trends for 2020

Analyst firm ABI Research paired its upbeat predictions for tech concepts in 2020 with a real-world look at the ideas that aren't quite ready for prime time.

James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer

January 3, 2020

3 Min Read
Image: Gerhard Gellinger - Pixabay

Tis the season for New Year’s tech forecasts. You see them every December: Next year is the one when technology that has been promised for years will finally gain a footprint in the market, adoption by enterprises, and loved to the heavens by consumers and corporate users.

Some such predictions are issued by noted industry experts, some by analyst and consulting firms and some by blow-hard tech journalists. Wait, ignore that last entry. Still more predictions are offered up by the representatives of executives from tech supplier firms. My email box gets flooded with those PR pitches. No surprise, each such pitch is pretty sure to include a prediction that 2020, like the years that preceded it will be the year when that vendor’s technology would score big gains in the market.

Almost nobody goes back a year later to check the accuracy of those overly optimistic predictions. But, amid all those upbeat and off-target predictions this year I found an interesting take by market research firm ABI Research. ABI has released a report with 54 tech predictions for 2020.

Most -- 35 -- of those predictions highlighted how a given tech concept will mature in 2020, such as "2020 Will Mark a Critical Turning Point for 5G", "Private Cellular Will Threaten the Domain of Mobile Operators and Create New Opportunities,” and “Heterogeneous Computing Will Emerge as Key for Supporting Future AI Networks”.

Yet, what sets the ABI report apart is that another 19 of its predictions essentially say, “Wait a minute, here are the tech concepts that won’t make their mark in 2020.”

Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer for ABI Research, said in the report, “In order to help demystify and simplify the outlook for 2020, ABI Research analysts have identified 35 trends that look set to be influential in the shaping of the market and 19 others that, although attracting huge amounts of speculation and commentary, look likely to be less influential or struggle to impact the market in any way in 2020.”

Tip your cap to ABI on this one. Supplier companies count on firms like ABI to validate their markets with optimistic forecasts. It takes backbone to risk offending those suppliers/clients. There’s a touch of honesty in this report, some things aren’t ready for prime time.

So, where will emerging tech concepts come up short in 2020, according to ABI? How about “Cloud Native Computing Will Prove Unready for Telco Networks.” (ABI has a significant client base in communications). Also, sorry fitness geeks: “No 5G Wearables Will Arrive in 2020, or Anytime Soon.” You can feel good because you aren’t falling behind when you see, “Quantum Computing Will Remain Far from Being Ready.” Finally, there’s a prediction that won’t fill your security and risk teams with confidence: “Zero-Trust Won’t Quite Get There.”

All of this isn’t about pessimism or negativity. Rather, it’s about being honest and realistic, because doing tech right can’t be rushed, particularly when you are trusting your data, your job, and your brand to it.

About the Author(s)

James M. Connolly

Contributing Editor and Writer

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced freelance technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than three decades. He was previously editorial director of InformationWeek and Network Computing, where he oversaw the day-to-day planning and editing on the sites. He has written about enterprise computing, data analytics, the PC revolution, the evolution of the Internet, networking, IT management, and the ongoing shift to cloud-based services and mobility. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. He has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through such publications as Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups at MassHighTech.

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