October 26, 2020

A New Special Report for Technology Providers on Long-term Changes and the Strategic Actions Needed Now

Every business is becoming a technology business. Further, companies that utilize technologies to disrupt current markets or create new ones continue to emerge and grow. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that companies that have applied digital broadly are more resilient. This is leading to accelerated investments in digital technologies.

Most providers have ridden this wave of technology-driven growth in their markets, but the pressure to deliver results in the short term leads to missed opportunities in the long term. This deeper and broader use of technology demands that providers not only provide excellent products and services but also generate value by helping their clients strengthen their business and operating models. Further, a slew of global changes is on the anvil, including shifts in geopolitics and climate change. These open new, and often unfamiliar, strategic challenges for technology providers.

A broader and long-term perspective is not just necessary to uncover markets and opportunities to grow, it is also vital to ensure they are not blindsided to threats of shrinking markets, commoditization, and disruptive competition.

Gartner research has invested in a collection of research to provide a long-term perspective to technology providers. The special report, “Tech Providers 2025: Strategic Transformation Drives Growth — A Gartner Trend Insight Report” (paywall), has a series of research notes that helps technology and service providers understand the large underlying shifts in the technology business and the actions they need to take today to prepare. The research notes in this report focus on key changes expected by 2025 across different areas. This special report comprises 70 research notes that highlight the long-term changes and the strategic actions that are necessary now. The special report addresses:

External forces across key areas that will have a large impact on the industry.
Key changes across the characteristics for a technology provider, driven in large part by the external forces.
Emerging trends and technologies that impact products and services.
Implications and actions for the leaders in various roles.

We hope that this research help technology providers get a better perspective on the long term and enable them to make the investments and adjustments necessary today.

Announcing Gartner’s New Impact Radar for Security

We recently published our annual Impact Radar for Security market. The radar maps the various emerging technologies and trends (ETTs) which would influence the security market. The impact of these ETTs may be immediate or it may go as long term as 8 years into future.

It is important to be aware of these ETTs to keep up against the ever evolving and advancing threat landscape. One must remember that today’s hacker is not some college guy in basement but rather a skilled expert operating at the forefront of the technology. They can launch sophisticated attacks such as AI driven large scale, automated DDoS. Or they may use machine learning to learn and mimic an organization’s environment and avoid detection by security systems.

It is unlikely that one can continue to fight such advanced attacks with legacy technologies. After all, as Gartner has always maintained, security is a never-ending game of chess. Your organization is safe and secure only till a more advanced and skilled hacker comes your way!

You can use the radar to understand the key technologies which we think will have a significant impact on the security industry and start identifying the ones which you can adopt and implement.
Reading an Impact Radar
To understand the placement of each technology, look at two parameters – 1. Mass (size of the bullet) and 2. Range (distance from the center). Higher the mass and closer the proximity to the center, the sooner a technology will make a sizeable impact.

For example, if we look at the ‘Now’ bubble, we can see that Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) is expected to make a significant impact in the near future. This is due to growing proliferation of the cloud services, both public and private, which offer substantial benefits to organizations albeit with increased risks. Thus, technologies such as CWPP will become necessary capabilities for most organizations migrating to cloud. While others such as ‘OT Security’ will likely have medium impact in similar timeframe.

Before we move onto some of the interesting technologies that are mapped on the radar, let us dive a little deeper into how exactly we have mapped each technology on the radar. It’s simple really – just throw in a bit of industry expertise, insights from hundreds of discussions with clients, multiple spreadsheets with data on industry adoption and voilà, you have an impact radar! I will still try and summarize the science behind it. Basically we have evaluated each technology on two aspects:

Mass – This quantifies the impact of the particular technology on existing products and markets. To do that we have factored in the technology’s breadth and depth.

Breadth analysis focuses on how wide is the impact across industries, business functions, geos, etc.
Depth analysis focuses on how disruptive is the ETT to the current state of products from minor evolution to full replacement

Range – This explains how close the technology is to early majority adoption. We have based this assessment on two factors:

Distance = number of customers as a % of the early majority target
Velocity = the % growth rate in investment, vendor growth and customer growth

Here are three technologies that I found most interesting:
Passwordless Authentication
Imagine a world without passwords! A wonderful world, isn’t it? And it looks even better when it comes with more security, reliability, and safety for our organizations and employees. This is exactly what the ‘Passwordless Authentication’ technologies strive to offer.

Passwordless authentication does not mean complete removal of anything like a password. Rather it may use alternate and more efficient ways to authenticate a user such as PINs local to the person’s device, and use of public key cryptography. This will improve the UX for customer use cases and reduce authentication burden on workforce in employees use cases. All this with the security benefit of not requiring a password which can be stolen.

The standards introduced by Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance are likely to accelerate interest and adoption of passwordless authentication methods.
Homomorphic Encryption (HE)
This technology enables arbitrary mathematical functions to be computed on encrypted data sets. Multiple parties can jointly work on a dataset without ever revealing their individual inputs.

For e.g. If I hire a cloud analytics vendor to run some computations for my organization then I am up against risk from two directions. 1. What if the vendor’s security is compromised? 2. What if the vendor itself turns malicious and steals my organization’s data? Homomorphic encryption techniques would be an answer to both cases. Since the data always remains encrypted, even when it is undergoing computations, the data remains encrypted throughout its lifecycle and is never revealed publicly.

Application of HE to practical problems has been limited due to computational costs. The technology is still in extremely nascent stages of adoption within commercial products. However, we are now seeing lot of interest in this technology due to the large potential that it holds in relation to addressing privacy concerns and regulations.
Digital Ethics
This relates to the ethical and moral consequences associated with digital offerings and users’ interactions with those. Digital ethics intersect with security at multiple nodes including privacy regulations and compliance and consequences of technology falling into hands of malicious agents or rogue governments to control, manipulate and influence citizens at large. There are large implications for all business disciplines and not just security as well as for each industry.

Use of emerging technologies such as AI, ML, robotics and facial recognition can have far reaching impact. Thus it is important that the actions of providers and users alike are bound by code of ethics. At the same time, one must ensure that innovation cannot happen in stifled and regulated environment. The key is in balance!

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