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ADAPT’s Top 10 Australian CIO Emerging Technology Priorities 2020

A real approach to emerging technologies

A future scenario elaborating how the most advanced technologies will shape the new world is not the most ideal way to approach emerging technology adoption. The real transformation always begins with real business problems.”

In a constantly changing world of digital technologies, consumers and geo-political environments, using a 5-10-year vision of the world, to reverse engineer the required innovation is expensive, ineffective and tiresome. Many emerging technologies were expected to completely transform the world by 2020 – some have and yet some remain to be proven. The pace of change has been far slower compared to forecasts.

The real changes have come within organisations that took a “business driven by technology” strategy compared to a “technology driven business”.

Emerging technologies are important for businesses to challenge the status quo and approach problems differently. They come with inherent opportunities as well as risks if we do not take a pragmatic and clear minded approach to their adoption.

Emerging technologies are typically characterised by rapid interest followed by a degree of investigation leading to planning, piloting, deployment and in some cases abandonment before the piloting and/or deployment phase.

Tech adoption for the sake of tech adoption, because everyone else is doing it, has led many organisations to the legacy mess they find themselves in today.

In September 2019, ADAPT surveyed over 160 of Australia’s leading CIOs and technology leaders for many of the region’s largest enterprises.  One of the key questions was to get a reality check on where they would focus their emerging technology investments in the 12 months ahead into 2020. We totalled the expectations of trialling, deploying and piloting various technologies to arrive at the rankings.

The purpose of this report is to give you a succinct direction on the technologies you should “measure and accelerate” and the ones you should “watch and evaluate”.

Measure and Accelerate

Measure to ensure the outcomes are driving anticipated business defined criteria and expectations to drive a balanced approach to accelerating investment and deployment.”

Australian organisations need to have concrete reasons for their plans to invest in certain technologies and execution strategy. This requires continuous assessment and measurement as to the success or failure of these investments.

As discussed later in this report, demonstrating alignment and impact on key strategic business priorities should be the number one measure of success and efficacy of those investments.

Only when that has been achieved, should we accelerate adoption and investment in these technologies and approaches enabled by them.

These are the technologies that should already be at some stage of deployment within the organisation. If not, it is an alarming sign for the survival of the organisation.



1. Advanced Analytics

ADAPT defines Advanced Analytics as the use of new ways of analysing information, data and insights including:

a. Streaming Analytics which helps analyse live data streams through video, audio and social content to help make live decisions. It helps organisations leverage micro-moments to create ‘wow’ experiences for customers.

b. Predictive Analytics builds on and complements data science encompassing data mining, predictive modelling, AI and machine learning. In doing so, it helps organisations know what they don’t know.


2. AI/Machine Learning

ADAPT defines artificial intelligence and AI systems as the application of learning algorithms to analyse and apply deep learning for problem-solving, interpreting events, and automating actions.


3. Smart Agents

ADAPT defines smart agents, often referred to as intelligent agents as software-based tools with the capability to perform tasks and processes based on historical interactions, user activities and experiences. Leveraging data, use cases and learned interactions.


4. IoT

ADAPT defines IoT (the Internet of Things) as the Internet connectivity of billions of real-world devices with computing systems. These connected devices have embedded software and sensors to send and receive real-time data.


5. Containerisation

ADAPT defines containerisation as the ability to develop, implement and run applications at the application layer without the need for OS specific duplicated VMs.

Watch and Evaluate

Watch for relevant use cases and best practice adoption and deployment relevant to your business and associated priorities and then evaluate for business aligned synergies before moving to the measure and accelerate stage.”

These are the technologies that tend to be over-hyped and therefore deserve the most caution. Organisations who are considering and have not yet deployed the following technologies should be watching carefully as to examples of relevant use cases and deployments. Specifically, in the workloads being considered and the industry your organisation is a part of.

This caution should extend to greater degrees of evaluation programs in small use case environments before widescale investment and adoption is considered.


6. RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

ADAPT defines RPA as robotics with AI and ML characteristics and capabilities to augment software automation to handle human-centric high-volume, repeatable tasks that can be automated and, in the process, free up human capital to focus on more valuable aspects of the business.


7. Edge Computing

ADAPT defines edge computing as an environment managing distributed networks of IoT devices, edge devices or other connected devices, enabling the processing of data closer to the source of data.


8. Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality

AR typically enhances a more traditional live-view through digital elements and capabilities, increasingly used in smartphone cameras for example. Immersive experiences which block out external distractions and the physical world in general are common examples of VR. MR, on the other hand, enables the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce completely different and new environments. It enables the physical and the digital works to co-exist.


9. Robotics/Smart robots

ADAPT defines robotics as the development and use of robots in the workplace. Smart robots leverage AI to learn from the tasks and environments they operate in, to improve its abilities and efficiencies down to collaborating, working alongside and ultimately learning from humans.


10. Blockchain

ADAPT defines blockchain technology to be any system of distributed ledger storing information on transactions and transaction history, participants of transactions and uniquely identify transactions shared in a network. Blockchain enables any user with access to trace back transaction history and its participants. Organisations leverage this technology to validate transactions, improve supply chain transparency with transaction data and create smart contracts. It was popularised recently with the applications of bitcoin transactions

Innovation is hot, but transformation budgets are at a premium

ADAPT defines business innovation as the implementation of new ideas, new methods, or innovative products or services designed via a culture of creativity to achieve competitive advantage.

It is easy to get carried away with the bright shiny objects that are emerging technologies, without considering how they may provide new and novel ways to approach and solve existing, emerging and anticipated business priorities, challenges and expectations.

Many Australian organisations look to emerging technologies to demonstrate innovation and transformation as they consider IT decisions and investment. Organisations today remain hamstrung with their (reluctant) dependence on legacy systems.

This challenge, as illustrated above where the same CIOs report they are still apportioning close to 60% of their IT budgets on back office keeping the lights on systems, technologies and processes.

The only way to get increased budget for transformation is to reduce the run and assign to transform or demonstrate how the transformation investments will have a greater impact on the business and its key priorities.

Emerging Technology priorities must align with and tie into strategic priorities

Every technology conversation must be tied to a business outcome.”

In the past eight years, ADAPT has interacted with more than 15,000 business and technology leaders in Australia during our ADAPT EDGE events and roundtables. We have witnessed emerging technologies going through phases of acceptance, implementation, and unrealised business gains.

Technology adoption based on singular technology capabilities have often failed to gain anticipated business benefits. This is because the technology conversations happen in isolation of business conversations.

ADAPT has identified the top 10 Strategic business priorities for Australian organisations designed to empower execution and drive the outcomes organisations need to succeed in 2020 and beyond.

We recommend organisations take specific steps to assign emerging technology initiatives to those strategic priorities. The chart below illustrates where many of these top 10 emerging technology priorities discussed will have the biggest positive impact on Australian Strategic business priorities in 2020, along with others that did not appear in the top 10:

To achieve success in the digital world, focus on technology enabled business strategies, rather than isolated technology transformation.”

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