Among Gartner's latest top 10 predictions on global IT market, the rising of 3D printing and wearable tech are expected to be most significant to Asia's CIOs. The research firm noted the by 2018, 3D printing will result a minimum loss of US$100 billion per year from intellectual property (IP) theft.
Manufacturers are expected to take the biggest hit, as 3D printers can allow IP theft to easily scan and produce large quantities of items that exactly replicate the original products, according to Michael Warrilow, research director at Gartner, in his recent visit in Hong Kong.
"At least one major western manufacturer will claim to have had IP stolen for a mainstream product by thieves using 3D printers (by 2015)," stated the firm.
Massive impact to Chinese manufacturers
He said the accessibility of 3D printers can also tremendously bring down the cost and take the manufacturing locations much closer to consumers, reducing the value of low cost manufacturing plans in Asia, particularly in China.
"The potential impact [to the Chinese manufacturers] is massive, in a negative way," he said. "It is not going to get rid of manufacturing, but 3D printing will allow mass customization and personalization."
Apart from losing its advantage in cost competitiveness and customization, Chinese manufacturers also lack the ability to assert IP, creating a more challenging environment for them.
"This has already happened to music and it has happened to books in some degree," added Warrilow. "Industries are being transformed in the digital era, it is happening in the marketing (industry) right now, we believe manufacturers will go through the same with 3D printing as a catalyst."
The earlier the Asia and Chinese manufacturers and their CIOs realize the situation and prepare for it, the more likely they can reduce the risk. He said manufacturers could start looking at protective measures like stamping or sealing their products or working with insurance company to develop protection policies.
75% of sensitive data will not be protected
Gartner also predicted that "by 2020, enterprises and government will fail to protect 75% of sensitive data, and declassify and grant broad/public access to it."
"The reason why is pretty clear because it's really unrealistic and unlikely to protect the vast amount of data," said Warrilow.
The research firm said at least one more Snowden or WikiLeaks moment will occur by 2015 and more NSA-like organizations will develop technics to access corporate data that both enterprises and governments will find it very challenging to protect. Instead of fencing all the data, he said enterprises should focus on data classification and apply maximum protection to only the top 25% of data.
"So I'd tell the CIOs to close their eyes, take a deep breath and let it go," he said. "But they can't. They may be so fixated on it that they will have the ultimate security, but it still won't work and their businesses slowly disappear into the digital horizon."
Warrilow added it is important to have good security, but if such protection "does not support the business model and the transformation it needed, it's not worth it."
Privacy and IoT
He noted part of the reasons enterprises will find it difficult to protect all their data is that more consumers are willing to "barter their personal data for cost saving, convenience and customization." Gartner predicted that in three years (2017), 80% of consumers are willing to do that.
"Consumer interest in self-tracking also suggests that consumers are investing more time and energy in collecting data about themselves," said the research firm. "They increasingly view such data as a key asset for life improvement, which is potentially consistent with the idea of trading it for value under the right circumstances."
Warrilow added that IoT is expected to pick up even faster in Asia, where mobility is more prevalent. Consumers' interest to collect and trade their personal data means enterprises will find it difficult to protect sensitive data. But it will also create business opportunities as "by 2020, consumer data collected from wearable devices will drive 5% of sales," according to Gartner.
What do these mean to the CIOs?
According to Warrilow, more organizations will introduce new titles like Chief Digital Officer (CDO), whose specific job is to raise the enterprises digital footprint and grow the business via digital channels.
CIOs need to be able to transform into these roles or eventually being replaced from CDOs.
"I'd like to see the CIOs to become CDOs," he said. "But many will keep the traditional role and won't be the CIOs by 2024, or they may have a CDO to replace its job by then."
"CIOs are also encouraged to move beyond the three to five years planning horizon, as the implications of these technologies covers to 2020 — 2022. These changes are societal to human changes, they will come with discomfort and require the CIOs to be a true leader of technological change, rather than just a leader of technologies," Warrilow concluded.