RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Tech executives from startups to those responsible for global reach have much to be concerned about in these unsettling days of political turmoil, trade wars, the looming risk of a recession, and the ongoing battle to find qualified workers. But if those headaches weren’t enough, there are plenty of other challeneges – or, as the smartest exec say, opportunities to make 2020 a year of growth.

CompTIA, the large international trade group focusing on the tech industry, just published its study focusing on definining the top trends to watch as a New Year is set to begin.

Rick Smith, WRAL TechWire’s editor and author of The Skinny blog.

The first is, bascially, this: It’s time for execs to get REAL about technology change across their organizations. Just because Internet of Things or Artificial Intelligence is hot doesn’t mean slapping on a few apps or new tools doesn’t mean success.

The expression is “tech washing.” Forbes recently defined this business fallacy as “the practice of slapping a trendy, new label on legacy solutions” ranging from AI to software-defined networking (think changes at Cisco and other hardware providers). And how about 5G? What will the wide-spread access to true wireless broadband mean for businesses other than faster streaming?

CompTIA notes “tech washing” as the number one trend to watch in 2020 – but not in the way you might think. The group sees businesses getting serious about tech beyond the surface, fully embracing new or emerging tech as part of “real strategy.”

Is every company now a tech company?

“Thanks to the vast influx of user-friendly technologies, it has become popular to say that every company is a tech company,” the report says

“But the ubiquity of technology does not necessarily change the underlying business model. While digital transformation is creating new avenues for growth, companies are finding that they cannot simply slap tech labels on their products and practices and automatically reap benefits.”

For the record, here are the top 10 trends to watch:

1. Tech Washing Fades in Favor of Real Strategy
2. Workforce Diversity Grows in Many Ways
3. Tech Topics Are Front and Center in U.S. Elections
4. Hype Meets Reality with Emerging Technology
5. Internet of Things Continues to Redefine IT Architecture
6. Artificial Intelligence Eats the World
7. Demand for Integration Leads to Demand for Automation
8. Cybersecurity Becomes More Operational
9. Deep Fakes and 5G Exacerbate the Data Management Challenge
10. Tech Industry Regulation Stirs Fears

Follow this link to find out much more about the CompTIA forecast.

About the author: Rick Smith, WRAL TechWire’s editor and a cofounder; he’s author of The Skinny blog.