Last week I published an update of Gartner’s Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar for 2021 (full report available to subscribing Gartner clients). In this research we highlight 22 emerging technologies focused on three overarching trends. The three overarching trends include: Interfaces and Experiences include technologies that are fundamentally changing the way we interact with the world. Business Enablers are technologies and trends that impact enterprises by changing practices, processes, methods, models and/or functions. Productivity Revolution is driven by the confluence of multiple technologies and trends that has resulted in solutions that help organizations quickly, accurately, and, in greater volume, classify, predict, and solve problems that humans cannot. In the Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar 2021, the rings represent the Range. Range estimates the distance (in years) that the technology or trend is from “crossing the chasm” from early-adopter to early majority adoption. The size and color of the emerging technology or trend radar blip represents its Mass. This indicates how substantial an impact the technology or trend will have on existing products and markets. Here is our 2021 Emerging Technologies Impact Radar (click to enlarge). Let’s look at a few that I find especially interesting. I’ll examine a few that are right around the corner (advanced virtual assistants, transformer-based language models, and packaged business capabilities) and one that is further out (AR Cloud). Advanced Virtual Assistants Advanced virtual assistants (AVAs), sometimes referred as AI conversational agents, process human inputs to deliver predictions and decisions. They are powered by a combination of conversational user interface (CUI), NLP and semantic and deep learning techniques (such as DNNs, natural language processing, prediction models, decision support and personalization). The 1-3 year range is driven by expansion of current, limited function virtual assistants (which have been around for years now) to AVAs that will be targeted at a multitude of jobs and functions; propelling the expansion of AI conversational agents into every sphere of consumer lives, business interactions and operations. The impact mass of advanced virtual assistants is high because AVA can be utilized in virtually every vertical segment and almost all disciplines. It has the potential to transform the nature of how an application is used for the workforce, how consumers interact with devices and IoT, while enhancing customer experience and engagement. The full analysis in the document was authored by Annette Jump. Transformer-Based Language Models Transformer-based language models are DNNs that process words as sequences in a sentence. This approach preserves the context or meaning surrounding terms. It also substantially improves translation, transcription and natural language generation. These models are trained on enormous data sets of billions of phrases. Example transformer-based models include BERT, BART and GPT-3. The 1-3 year range is driven by the effectiveness of the training tools, the runtime efficiency and the ease of deployment. Transformer-based language models such as GPT-3 have the capability to generate paragraphs of text that are indistinguishable from those written by a well-educated human. The impact mass of transformer-based language models is very high because they are displacing RNN systems at a surprising rate. And new tools deliver substantial improvements in advanced text analytics and all the related applications such as conversational user interfaces, intelligent virtual assistants and automated text generation. The full analysis in the document was authored by Martin Reynolds. Packaged Business Capabilities The composable business enables businesses to create custom application experiences that they compose from application components that they buy or build. To support the composable business, technology providers should deliver packaged business capabilities (PBCs), which represent a well-defined set of business features that are recognizable as such by a business user. The 3-6 year range is driven by many vendors having modularized their offerings. But despite this progress, smaller providers and providers transitioning from older technologies still find themselves in the earliest stages of API adoption. The impact mass of PBCs is medium because PBCs typically represent a repackaging of existing capabilities, but the widespread implementation of the composable business will transform the way that traditional providers market, sell, and deliver their solutions. The full analysis in the document was authored by John Santoro. AR Cloud AR Cloud enables the unification of physical and digital worlds by delivering persistent, collaborative and contextual digital content overlaid on people, objects and locations to provide people with information and services directly tied to every aspect of their physical surroundings. The 6-8 year range is driven by because it requires numerous, underlying elements, such as edge networking, high bandwidth and low-latency communications, standardized tools and content types for publishing into the AR Cloud, management and delivery of content, and interoperability to ensure seamless and ubiquitous experiences. The impact mass of AR Cloud is very high because it will transform how people will interact with the world around them. AR Cloud will provide a digital abstraction layer for people, places and things and will space across business and consumer applications and impact every industry regardless of geography. This will enable new experiences and in turn, new business models and ways to interact and monetize the physical world. The full analysis in the document was authored by me (Tuong Nguyen) and analyzed in additional detail in Emerging Technologies: AR Cloud Will Create a Multilayered Crowdsourced Canvas of the World (available to subscribing Gartner Clients): A New Series of Research The Emerging Technologies Impact Radar 2021 is one impact radar in a series of 15 impact radars including these (available to subscribing Gartner Clients): Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Semiconductors for 5G Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Artificial Intelligence Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Communications Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Customer Analytics for Customer Experience Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Devices Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Enabling Power and Energy Technologies Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Security Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Enterprise Software Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Cloud Computing Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: IT Services Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Hyperautomation Always interested in your feedback on our research so we can continuously improve what and how we deliver. And don’t forget, if you are a technology product or service leader and a Gartner client, don’t miss out! Subscribe to Gartner’s Emerging Technologies and Trends Research. These Impact Radars are another example of the new content we are producing.