2020 Will Bring More Data, More AI, And More Regulation

Sintia Radu

The upcoming year will witness yet more change in technology, according to a newly released report, with advancements in data investment and literacy, automation and artificial intelligence, as well as increased regulation around the world.

Yet for all the changes in technology, the overriding focus in 2020 will be the connection between energy consumption and values, say analysts from Forrester, a market research company in Cambridge, Mass.

"In one scenario, 2020 becomes the year companies convert on the potential energy built up in 2019 to move from prudent investments to breakout growth, says a Forrester report published earlier in November. "In another scenario, recessionary fears become reality, the impact of Brexit goes well beyond the shores of England, and trade wars devolve into a breakdown of the global economy. And there are a number of scenarios in between."

In addition, technology energy as automation, AI, and robotics will get close to customers and better integrate in all business processes, reaching the core of organizations.

Among other findings in the report:

-- Increasingly, consumers will look at companies' values when making a purchasing decision. This trend can be traced back to 2017, Forrester says. While the preference might not be necessarily reflected in purchases by low-income earners, "the desire for values alignment is steady across income brackets," say the authors of the report.

-- The majority of companies will recognize the threat that comes with advancements in artificial intelligence. At the same time, IT processes are becoming an increasingly important part of the core business of companies and not an adjacent process. "This more embedded, connected, and adaptive IT approach will gain momentum in 2020 -- particularly as firms address the opportunity and challenges of emerging technologies," the report adds.

-- Data literacy will become a priority. According to the report, 40% of firms will launch data literacy programs for employees. In addition, company's data budgets are expected to increase.

In addition, regulation around the world will also expand. According to Forrester, the European Union's data protection and privacy law, the GDPR, is one area where businesses and consumers will see updates.

"The UK's Information Commissioner's Office has already issued a report stating that current real-time bidding processes in programmatic advertising miss the mark on three major GDPR requirements: consent, transparency, and data leakage," say the authors of the Forrester report.

In addition, the United Kingdom is expected to take increased action against firms not complying with data rules. Also, about 20% of enterprise customers worldwide will prohibit the use of their data for AI in 2020.

"The need for compliance will spur investment in regulatory tech. In the first three quarters of 2019, regtech scored $4.6 billion in funding at a year-over-year growth rate of 103% -- with no signs of slowing down," the report concludes.

Sintia Radu is an international affairs and global technology reporter at U.S. News & World Report. She previously reported on business and technology for the Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She served as the managing editor for Esquire Romania. She graduated from the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, and earned her Master of Arts in Journalism at the University of Missouri. She is a fellow of the National Press Foundation for a program on the impact of artificial intelligence. She was part of the 2016 Women in STEM cohort at Chicago's 1871 technology and entrepreneurship center, and helped design a multiple award-winning iOS/watchOS app profiled in the 2017 Associated Press report on The Future of Augmented Journalism. She is a Fulbright scholarship recipient and gave a TEDx talk on immigration and diversity. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, or email her at sradu@usnews.com.