What Gartner’s 2021 top 9 strategic trends means for global and local markets

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While 2020 brought new, unprecedented times with it, the one consistency that we’re thrilled to see is the annual technology predictions from Gartner. The strategic trends that Gartner outlines echo the inner happenings of the industry, and in 2021, the top 9 strategic trends that companies need to explore will catapult traditional environments into new innovative spaces. 

“As organizations journey from responding to the COVID-19 crisis to driving growth, they must focus on the three main areas that form the themes of this year’s trends: people centricity, location independence and resilient delivery. Taken together, these trends create a whole that is larger than its individual parts and focus on social and personal demand from anywhere to achieve optimal delivery.” said Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner.

This year, the Smartz Solutions team – a global CCaaS software development company – weighed in on these trends and what this means for the global and local markets. 

Internet of Behaviours 

The internet of Behaviors (IoB) is the technological culmination of the times – combining existing technologies (facial recognition, location tracking and big data) and behavioral events. 

IoB behavior events are there to drive consumer insight and experience. It is great to have the consumer insight but without delivering a holistic and above standard customer experience, insight will not create consumer brand loyalty. – James Guthrie, Smartz Solutions Managing Director.

More businesses are using this data to influence human behaviours. IoB can be leveraged in a multitude of ways, and Gartner predicts that by the end of 2025, more than 50% of the population will be subject to at least one IoB programme.

An important aspect to remember is to avoid the legacy trap of disparate technologies. The key to harnessing the benefits of IoB lies in a single stack that offers a holistic view of the journey with analytics to enhance and match behavioral patterns. – Henry McCracken, Smartz Solutions CEO, South Africa.

Total Experience 

Total experience is an expansion of Gartner’s 2019 trend projection: multiexperience. Total experience connects the customer, employee and user experiences. Gartner predicts that over the next three years, businesses that prioritize a total experience strategy will outperform their competitors in the critical satisfaction metrics. 

Closing the loop on any customer interaction is vital to the total experience – providing the technology to support a remote, virtual and mobile worker is another critical function of this experience. – Henry McCracken, Smartz Solutions CEO, South Africa.

With interactions becoming more virtual, distributed and mobile – mostly due to the pandemic – total experience will empower businesses to achieve success on new experiential disruptors and make technological leaps. 

A key function in managing and monitoring the agent/employee in a remote environment  and in real-time relies on a total experience strategy. Smartz Solutions delivers this today in allowing for so many customer entry points, tracking the entire journey, monitoring sentiments and matching previous engagement resources! – Mark Zabroske, Smartz Solutions CEO, North America.

Privacy-Enhancing Computation 

Businesses have prioritized becoming and remaining data-driven for the past couple of years, but while the push to collect and analyze data, there has been an even greater demand for privacy and compliance. Privacy-enhancing computation protects data in use while maintaining privacy or secrecy online common data-at-rest security measures. 

Security is number one concern amongst the CEO community.  A platform must be compliant and current with the industry standards and must ensure security is prioritized in the applications used. – Mark Zabroske, Smartz Solutions CEO, North America.

According to Gartner, by 2025, 50% of large organizations will implement privacy-enhancing computation to process data in untrusted environments and multiparty data analytics use cases. 

Distributed Cloud 

Distributed cloud is the distribution of public cloud services to different physical locations in which the operation, governance and evolution remain the responsibility of the public cloud provider. This means it offers a flexible environment for a variety of business scenarios including low-latency, data residency requirements and data cost-reduction. 

With the ever increasing challenges around security hacking and the compromising of customer data, providers of technologies like Smartz Solutions have to make available distributed cloud service offerings to address all business requirements and concerns. – Henry McCracken, Smartz Solutions CEO, South Africa.

 By 2025, Gartner predicts that most cloud service platforms will provide at least one distributed cloud service that executes at the point of need. This will address the need for users to have cloud computing resources closer to the location where the data and business activities are taking place. 

Anywhere Operations 

Anywhere Operations offer a unique value-add experience across five core areas: secure remote access, cloud and edge infrastructure, collaboration and productivity, automation to support remote operations and quantification of the digital experience.

The need for anywhere operations was an eye opening reality across the globe during the Covid-19 pandemic, culminating in a massive shift to online operation and work from home modus of operation. Businesses required technology that would cater for a range of scenarios and needed solutions that were web-based, light in data, accessed from anywhere and more functionalities which Smartz Solutions has offered clients during this transition. – Henry McCracken, Smartz Solutions, CEO South Africa.

Anywhere Operations is designed to support customers, empower employees and manage the deployment of services. Gartner predicts that 40% of businesses will have applied anywhere operations to deliver and optimize blended virtual and physical customer and employee experience by 2023. 

Smartz Solutions has developed and deployed additional functionality to ensure customers have full technological support to ensure a remote workforce is still manageable and allows business success. – Mark Zabroske, Smartz Solutions, CEO North America. 

Cybersecurity Mesh 

No matter where a person is located, cybersecurity mesh ensures digital assets can be securely accessed. It allows identity to become the security perimeter through decoupling policy enforcement from policy decision making via a cloud delivery model. 

“As anywhere operations continues to evolve, the cybersecurity mesh will become the most practical approach to ensure secure access to, and use of, cloud-located applications and distributed data from uncontrolled devices.” – Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, cybersecurity mesh will support more than 50% of digital access control requests. 

Identifying users from uncontrolled devices and/or networks will continuously require evolving. Year-on-year an increase of customers choosing to use VPN servers to hide their digital identity plays a huge role in making this task even more difficult. Smartz Solutions’ two factor authentication and Profile Anywhere helps manage devices ensuring the correct device is linked and data stays protected. – Leon Katzke, CSO, Smartz Solutions.

Intelligent Composable Business

Intelligent composable business transforms decision-making by accessing and reacting on information in a better, more flexible method. Intelligent composable business will allow redesigned digital business moments, new business models, autonomous operations and new products, services and channels to exist. 

The key to product design and or development is to make sure the baseline can be easily adapted, changed and manipulated, this is the core of composable thinking and delivery. – Henry McCracken, Smartz Solutions CEO, South Africa.

AI Engineering

AI engineering rests on three fundamental principles — DataOps, ModelOps and DevOps. A robust AI engineering strategy will facilitate the performance, scalability, interpretability and reliability of AI models while delivering the full value of AI investments.

The success of AI applications is based on understanding your consumer base and what their requirements are. Forcing something on a consumer without allowing them an option to break out and ensuring all associated interactions are passed to the operator so they fully understand the consumer’s engagement, is one of the critical areas of failure. – James Guthrie, Smartz Solutions, Managing Director. 

Gartner research showed that only 53% of projects make it from artificial intelligence (AI) prototypes to production. 

To ensure that your business remains relevant within the digital age is to accept and embrace the changes that Ai technology brings. This digital transformation process can be a cumbersome and daunting task to undertake but Smartz Solutions have the platform and expertise to take your business into the 4IR era. – Victor De Abreu CIO Smartz Solutions 


While hyperautomation is not a new concept and has been trending for the past few years, it was the push of the pandemic’s outbreak that increased the demand for everything to be “digital-first”. Hyperautomations has, therefore, become a prioritized operational initiative. 

The drive to automate as much as possible as quickly as possible will be a trend that infiltrates most businesses – both big and small. 

Taking the Hyperautomational approach is a game-changing initiative for any business today. The demanding consumer needs quick serviceability, they need a near real-time response based on their ask and want this via their preferred methods of communications. – Henry McCracken, Smartz Solutions CEO, South Africa. 

The demand to meet your customers’ expectations will continue to grow in 2021. Through these trends and the implementation of them, businesses can hope to achieve customer experience success and technological innovation. 


About Smartz Solutions 

Smartz Solutions specialises in managing customer and employee experiences through our enabling technology. Our success is based on technological foresight and strong business knowledge, enabling us to develop integrated solutions that meet your business needs. Our power lies in turning insights into strategies and giving you the power to make effective business decisions. Based on a wealth of knowledge covering multiple industries, we have developed a suite of products that include the entire customer engagement journey offering best-in-class, world-class applications in a single end-to-end CX and EX platform.