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CIOs should think about what it means when employees augment themselves

The bods at Gartner may have watched a bit too much Hollywood sci-fi: will people really augment themselves with tech to do their jobs better?

Ahead of its annual CIO summits, analyst firm Gartner has published its yearly predictions for how tech will evolve in the enterprise. This year’s predictions suggest that IT will be more augmented, and if Gartner’s predictions prove accurate, corporate IT may be thinking about managing much more than just software and hardware.

One of the shifts Gartner sees is a change in how corporate IT delivers enterprise IT for end-users in the business. Daryl Plummer, a Gartner fellow and distinguished vice-president, said: “Applications used to define our jobs. Nowadays, we are seeing organisations designing application experiences around the employee.

“For example, mobile and cloud technologies are freeing many workers from coming into an office and instead supporting a ‘work anywhere’ environment, outpacing traditional application business models. Similar to how humans customise their streaming experience, they can increasingly customise and engage with new application experiences.”

Gartner said the concept of augmented workers has been gaining traction in social media conversations in 2019 because of advances in wearable technology. According to Gartner, wearables are driving workplace productivity and safety across most verticals, including automotive, oil and gas, retail and healthcare.

Although wearables are only one example of the physical augmentations available today, Gartner is expecting humans to look to additional physical augmentations that will enhance their personal lives and help them do their jobs.

“IT leaders certainly see these technologies as impactful, but it is consumers’ desire to physically enhance themselves that will drive the adoption of these technologies first,” said Plummer. “Businesses need to balance the control of these devices in their organisations while also enabling users to use them for the benefit of the organisation.”

Gartner predicted that by 2023, almost one-third (30%) of IT departments will extend bring your own device (BYOD) policies with “bring your own enhancement” (BYOE) to address augmented humans in the workforce. Plummer suggested corporate IT will need to embrace and exploit the benefits of physical human augmentation by implementing a BYOE strategy.

“Technology is changing the notion of what it means to be human,” he said. “As workers and citizens see technology as an enhancement of their abilities, the human condition changes as well. CIOs in end-user organisations must understand the effects of the change and reset expectations for what technology means.”

Read more about augmentation

  • Immersive technology at HS2 will support processes around the development of high-speed railway’s London super hub before it is built.
  • The augmented reality market is gaining traction in the manufacturing sector. Learn how the market has grown and why AR might improve operations and training.

Gartner believes human augmentation technologies will also open up opportunities for more people with disabilities to work in full-time employment. Gartner predicted that by 2023, the number of people with disabilities who are employed will triple because of artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies, reducing barriers to access.

“People with disabilities constitute an untapped pool of critically skilled talent,” said Plummer. “AI, augmented reality, virtual reality and other emerging technologies have made work more accessible for employees with disabilities.

“For example, select restaurants are starting to pilot AI robotics technology that enables paralysed employees to control robotic waiters remotely. Organisations that actively employ people with disabilities will not only cultivate goodwill from their communities, but will also see 89% higher retention rates, a 72% increase in employee productivity, and a 29% increase in profitability.”

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