While looking far into the future can be difficult in the enterprise world, it has benefits in planning the implementation of technology. After all, many digital solutions that are at the concept stage now will likely become the norm over the next few years.

Artificial intelligence and the role it's playing in the rise of 'smart' infrastructures is one such development. How will this technology affect strategic planning?

It's likely to allow computing power to take centre stage, and even mean that more critical decisions will be made by machine, taking the human element out of the process significantly.

Smart machines set to change business processes

While it may sound relatively far-fetched, vice-president of Gartner Stephen Prentice was keen to point out that technology is becoming more business-friendly than ever before.

"As smart machines become increasingly capable, they will become viable alternatives to human workers under certain circumstances, which will lead to significant repercussions for the business and thus for CIOs," he said.

While an enterprise-driven artificial intelligence system may be some way off, the role technology plays in overarching company strategy is shifting at a rapid rate.

By 2018, Gartner predicts that digital organisations will require 50 per cent fewer business process workers, while also seeing an increase in key digital business jobs by 500 per cent. Consequently, the blend between people and technology will change from a human resources perspective, too.

The human element remains critical

While some may remain sceptical, and despite the efforts of science fiction, the human element in operating the wider business will remain.

"Even with the coming generation of smart machines, which actively 'learn' and will be able to adapt their actions to optimise their progress toward a goal, humans can choose to remain in control," Mr Prentice surmised. 

So, there can be little denying that technology plays a huge role in strategic planning, and artificial intelligence will have a place within any best practices in the future.

However, the human element will remain the most critical part of the process for some time to come.