As we step into the new year of 2020 and wave goodbye to what has been yet another year of technological evolution, we can only expect there to be even greater shifts in the way we work. Every year, we’ve seen a range of businesses try to make waves in this area – whether it’s adopting new technologies, such as AI, or investing in people.

2020 will be yet another year where businesses must acknowledge that to win, they must embrace a new way of working. This means challenging their existing methods and looking at how they can streamline and automate processes in an effort to free up their employees to focus on other critical tasks at hand. After all, the workerof today are hungry for greater opportunities and collaboration, and technology will play a fundamental role in facilitating this.

With this in mind, the pressing question is what “work” businesses can do in order to meet the new demands we expect in 2020? We’ve spoken to the experts to see where they feel technology is rising to meet the needs of the future worker.

Making data work for you in 2020

The transition of core business processes to the cloud has been the key business-technology trend amongst organisations for several years now. This is only expected to continue as more marginal data workloads are discovered to make operational sense to move off-premises. We saw in 2019 that business functions like CRM or HR made that transition and this will accelerate as more big data functions are able to make the jump.

That being said, another trend starting to develop in the second half of 2019 that we expect will proliferate in the new year, is AIOps. The fundamental promise of AIOps is to enhance or replace a range of IT operations processes through combining data with AI. Like cloud migration, not only does AIOps have the potential to drastically reduce the cost of deployments, it can do so while improving performance. As organisations move into 2020 and review their business processes, it’s likely that one or both of these considerations will become a priority.

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Justyn Goodenough, Area Vice President – International at Unravel Data

Enhance your learning with AI

In 2020, we will see a shift towards Human+ AI. This type of Augmented Intelligence will empower people in organisations to make better and faster decisions by utilising the wealth of knowledge from other team members and experts within organisations. Rather than taking in and retaining all information as equal, true AI will begin to mirror the way the human brain works – digging out what is important and forgetting less meaningful data.

Real learning is based on recognising when something you thought you knew has become obsolete and in 2020the most advanced AIs will distinguish themselves through what they learn to forget, rather than simply what they taught.

Oliver Muhr, CEO at Starmind

Empowering the human worker

AI can help streamline and speed up processes that take much longer for human operators to process, as well as improving the margin for errors by many factors. AI is a long-term investment which should learn and improve as it operates. Businesses will start to see returns on investments in 2020.

Scott Brothers, Chief Group Operating Officer at ONVU Technologies

Protecting critical infrastructure

Industrial companies will continue to shift toward AI-based solutions for analysis of cybersecurity data. This is part of a broader trend of companies shifting towards automation as workforce challenges, costs, and security needs force them to consider tools that can automate tasks efficiently and effectively. AI and ML tools will leverage data – the new oil in cybersecurity – to augment or remove humans using analytics.

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But industrial companies in particular are looking for ways to better protect their critical infrastructure devices, whose vulnerability has become more apparent in the past years given the growing number and increasing severity of attacks on power utilities and manufacturing plants. CISOs are hungry for tools that can help them with this problem and AI has the potential to flag anomalous activity that could point to an attack and analyse sensor data for more effective response to security threats and even predictive maintenance needs.

Both of these are important because downtime in critical infrastructure environments can be catastrophic. AI is far from a silver bullet and requires extensive expertise and is still largely in early technical innings, but demand for it will grow in 2020 and beyond.

Chris Sherry, Regional VP EMEA North at Forescout

Artificial intelligence will play a bigger role in prospecting

Prospecting, which means assessing the quality of a potential customer, is one of the biggest challenges in the sales process. In 2019, we have seen software in the forof chatbots begin to make the first contact with leads and gauge the customer’s interest on behalf of the sales teams. Moving into 2020 we expect that chatbots, alongside other artificial intelligence solutions, will play a far greater role in aiding salespeople.

Chatbots are just one example of how innovative technologies are reducing the burden of menial tasks for workers and enhancing their existing processes through AI-generated insights. In light of these benefits sales organisations, as well as those in wider industries, are increasingly recognising that AI has the potential to reduce costs and drive efficiencies. In 2020, we expect that this trend will only continue as enterprises recognise how much technology has to offer their respective use-cases.

Vinay Ramani, CPO, Pipedrive

Self-service data science to the rescue

For years we’ve heard about self-service analytics capabilities and how they empower people to create insights and drive change. However, descriptive and diagnostic analytics – finding out what happened and why – is just the beginning. How do organisations address high-impact, future-facing questions, such as predicting what may happen next and prescribing the next best action? Historically these next steps in the analytic journey required data scientists with specialised model building skillsets.

Yet, research shows there are simply not enough of these individuals to keep pace with the advanced analytics needs of an organisation. Introducing self-service data science platforms and practices will enable a broader analytic workforce to up-level their skillsets, build models in a code free-way and become the heroes who will fill the data science talent gap and drive advanced analytics within organisations forward.

Ashley Kramer, Senior Vice President of Product at Alteryx


Read more: Enterprise technology predictions for 2020: 20 industry experts have their say