Digital and technology trends

Final | October 2018 | v1.0.0 | OFFICIAL-Public | QGCDG


Digital disruption is a catalyst for innovation and business transformation and agencies must get better at recognising disruption as or before it emerges, incorporating opportunities for technology innovation and new capability into digital and ICT strategies and plans. This guideline describes how to conduct research into technology trends. This research can be carried forward into planning activities to identify the potential changes in technology and disruptors that may impact the business in the future.


A practitioner in the context of this guideline can include one or more of the following roles:

  • Digital and ICT strategic planners
  • Agency and service strategic planners
  • Workforce planners
  • Enterprise architects
  • Business analysts


The term disruption is commonly used across Government. Gartner define disruption as something that causes transformation or is the result of a transformation initiative. Gartner define four key elements of disruption (Gartner Inc, 2017). These are summarised in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1- Elements of Disruption

The information obtained in horizon scanning may assist the practitioner to assess the impact of disruption across the elements of business, industry and society.

This guideline focuses on identifying technology trends impacting service delivery. weaknesses in emerging technology changes. Gartner propose three simple steps including Recognise, Prioritise and Respond.


For many agencies industry research partners are the primary method for recognising future trends in digital or ICT capability. The information these sources provide is valuable as much of the analysis has been done around the predicted scale, reach and impact of technologies. The research is particularly useful when focusing on particular domains (e.g. robotics or wearable technologies).

Using hype cycles and technology trends reports are examples of exploratory scanning. In some cases, it may be possible to narrow the volume of information by narrowing the search according to the policy area of interest in your agency (e.g. Health, Education, Transport, Environment).

Statements such as ‘By the year X people will have more conversations with a robot than with their spouse’ is an example of issues centred scanning. The practitioner would research the implications and probability of this occurring in the particular policy area of the agency and investigate how such technology or capability will or could shape future service delivery.

The example in Figure 2 below highlights a possible response to the robotics and wearables examples highlighted above.







Gradually more affordable for use in the home

Emotionally intelligent

Configurable to suit many applications e.g. health, education, entertainment

Trust, entertainment and companionship from humanoid devices

Wearable Technology

Affordable and accessible

Compact, comfortable, fashionable

Multi-purpose, high-level of integration with other devices, high rates of continuous improvement and new product turnover.

Increased reliance on devices by the population to manage health, stay connected and be organised.

Figure 2 - Impact of Disruption


The second step involves prioritisation using models for measuring and comparing the impact of disruptors over time. An example is the Gartner digital disruptor scale (Gartner Inc., 2017).

Gartner suggest three elements need to be considered in the determination of the priority and impact of disruption including scale, richness and reach. (Gartner Inc., 2017). Scale can be measured by the quantities of things it delivers such as how many people it effects or how much technology it uses. Richness refers to the variety of capabilities delivered, or options created as a result of the disruption. Reach is an evaluation of how widely spread a disruption might be in terms or geography or demographics for example.

By assessing the scale, richness and reach, a determination can be made as to the magnitude of the disruptor.


Responding is the action that organisations take in response to disruption.

Whilst many of these actions may be refined in the later planning activities conducted with the business representatives, the practitioner should understand how these disruptors could represent an opportunity to the delivery of services in the organisation.

The practitioner needs to understand what capability is being delivered and how it translates to a business capability or transformation of a service. It is also important to understand the risk to the business of not responding to disruptors.

Next steps

The information collected through identifying technology trends can be carried forward into the planning process as technology influences that will shape the formulation of objectives and strategies.

The information regarding technology trends can be incorporated into visioning activities with the business representatives and can be incorporated into presentations conducted as part of planning workshops.




Digital disruptor scale


Amanatidou, A., Butter, M., Carabias, V., Konnola, T., Leis, M., Schaper-Rinkel, P., & Van Rij, V. (2012). On concepts and methods in horizon Scanning: Lessons from initiating policy dialogues on emerging issues. Science and Public Policy, 208-221.

Gartner Inc. (2017, May 25). Research Notes. Retrieved from Digital Disruption and the New Disruptors: Recognise Prioritise and Respond:

Gartner Inc. (2017, May 19). Best Practices in Managing Digital Disruption as Part of an Innovation Program. Retrieved from Gartner:

Gartner Inc. (2017, April 7). Enterprise guide for Spotting Digital Disruptions and Disruptors. Retrieved from Gartner:

Last Reviewed: 24 October 2018