Attention is hard; predictions are easy. That goes double for tech predictions. It's a blast to make some goofy predictions - and no one ever holds themselves to account (RedMonk's Stephen O'Grady is the only one I know who has the gumption to revisit, and regrade, his prior predictions).
Others have raised this issue:
It would be interesting to go back and grade predictions from pundits
— Jonathan Becher (@jbecher) November 20, 2018
My fave tech writers steer clear of this avalanche of futuristic smugness:
The convenient 5-10 year prediction that no one will ever call you on when I turns out horribly wrong pic.twitter.com/RQiSslORfw
— Kurt Marko🤔🇺🇸 (@krmarko) March 10, 2019
This year, I got my first 2020 predictions PR pitch before I even heard my first Christmas song at Walmart (funny enough, Walmart was one of the first to send them in). Yep, I just checked, and my first tech 2020 predictions came in October 31, 2019. That's a pretty cynical attitude towards November and December 2019 if you ask me!
And there are always more. As gmail tells me when I search for "predictions":
Some messages in Trash or Spam match your search.
You don't say?
Anyhow, Enterprise hits and misses readers know: it doesn't take much to blow my fuse. A barrage of PR predictions pitches with vapid statements like
It’s been quite a decade for the cloud
Or, from the ever-helpful Forbes.com:
We are amidst the 4th Industrial Revolution, and technology is evolving faster than ever.
It's getting heady over at Quora:
We are living in a very interesting time in human history. Many transformative technologies are being developed right now as you are reading this article.
[Insert predictions dork name here] recently said he believes 2020 will be the year businesses finally realize AI isn’t the silver bullet for all business problems.
Another cynic who completes writes off what we might figure out in December 2019...
Anyhow, captain obvious stuff like this is kindling in my blogging fusebox. But let's be fair - not all tech predictions are bad. Some are pretty smart, but tediously self-serving. Others have committed no other crime than intellectual boredom:
"IDC and Forrester issued recently their predictions for artificial intelligence (AI) in 2020 and beyond"
Oh - well let me drop everything then. The turgid wave of predictions posts and PR pitches is already gathering steam....
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) November 24, 2019
So, in honor of turkeys everywhere, here are my subjective, non-comprehensive awards for the dorkiest 2020 tech predictions to date. Some of these doozies are published; some of them are PR flatulence from my inbox that may not have seen the light of day yet. I'll name a few company names just to prove this stuff is smokeable at home, but I'm not out to undermine individuals - just the game itself.
The "captains of the obvious" category
"Effective use of intelligent automation will require significant effort in data cleansing, integration, and management that IT will need to support. Resolving past data issues in legacy systems can be a substantial barrier to entry, particularly for larger enterprises." - IDC gets bold on us! Holds nothing back!
"By 2024, AI will be integral to every part of the business" - IDC skips ahead a few years, goes out on a limb again
"In 2020, says Forrester, the “tech elite” will ramp up AI plus design skills while other will “fumble.” - Forrester is not going to let IDC dominate this category.
"Another Forrester predictions report indeed warns that in 2020, “the exuberance in AI will crescendo as expectations come back to earth."
The "pass the pipe - share that good stuff with me" category
"Marketing siloes will cease to exist" - thanks, I'll pass the good news along!
"2020 is likely to be the year when 5G really starts to fly, with more affordable data plans as well as greatly improved coverage, meaning that everyone can join in the fun." - are you offering to buy us all 5G compatible devices? Let me know, I'll update my Amazon wishlist. By the way, hate to be a buzzkill, but a number of smart peeps think 5G will actually widen the digital divide... Not so much fun, eh?
"3D printing of the perfect food for you and your diet" - We may need an extra month after all, if we're going to get this done...
"2020 will see the creation of completely connected environments." Unplugging never sounded so good...
The FFS category
"The industry will face a skills and resource crisis" - seriously? We're gonna flog this one again?
"The workforce will become dramatically more geographically distributed." - Guess it's time to start packing our bags then... This one hedged with a "2020 and beyond" disclaimer but that doesn't sit well as a caveat. Here's your door prize.
"Smart speaker displays will proliferate." Forrester takes the prediction game seriously - this one is an IoT prediction from the experts to the rest of us!
“Next year, we’ll see complete end-to-end computing come to the fore, bringing to life fully intelligent environments that are completely connected and will have a big impact on the world we live in." Somebody pass the horseradish...
It's not over - the unpredictions are in the oven
I have a confession: I stink at predictions also. Those "unknown unknowns" always make me look the fool. Unpredictions, on the other hand... And for those who worry if this column takes the place of this year's unpredictions with Brian Sommer - not to worry. Those are underway.
For now, you can check our 2019 unpredictions, and see how many we got wrong. Yes, Mr. Becher, we botched of ton of them. As for the ones we got absolutely right - for those we profusely apologize.