Tom Austin

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Tom Austin
VP & Gartner Fellow
20 years at Gartner
41 years IT industry

Tom Austin, VP, has been a Gartner Fellow since 1997. He drives Gartner's research content incubator (the Maverick Program) and is leading a new research community creating research on the emerging era of smart machines. Read Full Bio

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Smart Machines: How Will They Disrupt Your Career?

by Tom Austin  |  February 10, 2014  |  1 Comment

How susceptible is your job to computerization? According to Frey and Osborne, 47% of all current U.S. jobs are at risk over the next two decades because they consist primarily of tasks that can be automated in that time period.  (Left unanalyzed are the beneficial impacts — such as new capabilities people will pick up by collaborating with smart machines.)  

I recently wrote that smart machines will continue to enhance and threaten the abilities of employees to do their jobs. By 2020, Gartner Predicts that a majority of knowledge worker career paths will be disrupted by smart machines in both positive and negative ways. Read the full report, Gartner Top Predictions 2014: Plan for a Disruptive, but Constructive Future

Smart machines  — a broad and powerful range of new systems— are emerging this decade. They do what we thought only people could do and what we didn’t think technology could do. Smart machines and smart advisors exploit machine learning and algorithms —  they learn from results and work faster than humans – they make smart people smarter. Virtual personal assistants  – focused on user behavior (habits, activities, needs) — make smart people more effective.  

The smart machine market is small, but growing, threatening to upend knowledge workers careers by 2020 (see chart). Ignore at your own peril.


How should you factor smart machines and machine-assisted tasks into your IT planning? View Gartner Top Predictions 2014: Plan for a Disruptive, but Constructive Future to see key findings, market implications and recommendations. Discover the competitive advantages that await early adopters.

For Gartner clients seeking more on the smart machines, view Predicts 2014: The Emerging Smart Machine Era and The IT Role in Helping High Impact Performers Thrive.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jay Oza   February 10, 2014 at 8:56 pm


    I don’t disagree but I am not sure it will be faster than 2020. I think it is more like 2017. We shall see.