Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo 2014 in Orlando, Fla. is in full swing — and the Twitter stream is abuzz with snippets and quotes from keynotes and sessions focusing on a digital first world, business units as technology startups, the rise of smart machines and digital humanism – all feeding the event’s theme around digital business.

This morning Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seemed to captivate the audience during a packed keynote. He emphasized that the company wants to excel at "productivity, broadly defined" and "getting the platforms right." He also stressed the company's commitment to the Internet of Things, noting:

Of course, no Gartner gathering is complete without predictions. Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner Fellow, gave attendees a peek at Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2015 and Beyond and how they impact the strategy and direction of IT and business.

Entitled, “Digital Business is Driving ‘Big Change,’” Gartner’s list makes it clear that, for businesses to survive in the digital world, they need to invest in customer experience and people.

Here's the List

1. By 2018, digital business require 50 percent less business process workers and 500 percent more key digital business jobs, compared to traditional models.

Recommendation: IT leaders should develop hiring practices to recruit for new non-traditional IT roles.

Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner, noted some of these new roles in his opening keynote as integration specialists, digital business architects, regulatory analysts, risk professionals and attorneys.

2. By 2017, a significant disruptive digital business will be launched that was conceived by a computer algorithm.

Recommendation: CIO’s should begin to simulate technology-driven transformation options for business.

3. By 2018, the total cost of ownership for business operations will be reduced by 30 percent through smart machines and industrialized services.

Recommendation: CIO’s should experiment with pioneer “almost smart machine” technologies and phantom robotic business process automation.

4. By 2020, developed world life expectancy will increase by 0.5 years due to widespread adoption of wireless health monitoring technology.

Recommendation: Business leaders must consider the impact of increased wellness on insurance and employee healthcare costs as a competitive factor.

5. By 2016, $2.5 billion in online shopping will be performed exclusively by mobile digital assistants.

Recommendation: Marketing to people won’t be enough. Marketing executives will also need to create marketing techniques that capture the attention of digital assistants, as well.

Learning Opportunities

6. By 2017, US customers’ mobile engagement behavior will drive US mobile commerce revenue to 50 percent of US digital commerce revenue.

Recommendation: Mobile marketing teams should turn their attention toward mobile wallets such as Apple’s Passbook and Google Wallet to help address growing consumer interest in mobile commerce and payments.

7. By 2016, 70 percent of successful digital business models will rely on deliberately unstable processes.

Recommendation: CIO’s should create an agile, responsive workforce that is accountable, responsive and supports organizational liquidity.

8. By 2017, more than half of consumer product and service R&D investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

Recommendation: Consumer companies should dedicate resources to developing buyer personas and conducting ethnographic research in order to better understand their customers.

9. By 2017, nearly 20 percent of durable goods e-tailers will use 3D printing to create personalized product offerings.

Recommendation: CIO’s, product development leaders and business partners should study gaps between existing and future states, including processes, skills and technology.

10. By 2018, retail businesses that utilize targeted messaging in combination with internal positioning systems will see a 20 percent increase in customer visits.

Recommendation: CIO’s should help expand valuable customer data to support real-time offers.