2021 will be all about continuing to rebuild a world that was thrown into upheaval by COVID-19. Get the scoop on ten technology trends emerging in 2021.
2020 has finally come to a close. Within the span of a year, so much has changed. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that a year ago, most people had no idea how much business and economic disruption would occur in 2020. At the same time, it is also incredible how businesses and workers have adapted in ways they once never thought was possible.
It only follows, then, that 2021 will be all about continuing to rebuild a world that was thrown into upheaval by COVID-19. On a positive note, experts predict that the U.S. economy will return to pre-pandemic levels by late 2021. For this to happen, businesses need to leverage emerging technologies to meet changing consumer preferences and business models. That’s why this year, it’s even more important for organizations to take note of the various technology trends that will continue to support businesses and drive innovation.
COVID-19 introduced unprecedented socioeconomic challenges that have made one thing clear – organizations need elasticity to transform and shape the future. According to Gartner, the technology trends for 2021 can be categorized into three themes:
From digital nomadism to sustainable development, 2021 is all about rapid changes in technological and business development that have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are ten trends we will see this year:
1. Operations can take place from anywhere: 2020 ushered in a new era of online meetings taking place on corporate tools like Microsoft’s Teams, Google HangOuts, and of course, Zoom. According to Inc., new tools like visual collaboration platforms are also emerging to help teams create and share content in real time, track projects, train employees, and track shared learning and documentation. Some organizations have even integrated augmented reality and virtual reality into their remote work models. This new approach to work has given rise to an anywhere operations model that dictates “digital first.”
2. Contactless delivery and shipping remain a consumer preference: driven in part by social distancing, no-contact delivery has become the new normal. In the U.S. alone, we’ve seen a 20 percent increase in the preference for contactless operations, with different industries implementing alternative processes. Stemming from a consumer desire to minimize physical contact, companies are investing heavily in drop-off delivery options, with some companies even using autonomous vehicles to fulfill customer orders. Expect to see more businesses rely on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI)-based applications for this need.
3. More AI, robotics, internet of things, and industrial automation: in 2021, we anticipate a sizable demand for and the rapid growth of AI and industrial automation technology. With manufacturing and supply chains returning to full operation, companies are expecting there to be serious manpower shortages. For operations to occur in manufacturing, automation, A.I., machine learning, robotics, and the internet of things, will be a crucial alternative solution.
4. The Internet of Behaviors (IoB) uses data to change behaviors: more technologies are being created that capture data that spans the digital and physical works and can be used to influence behavior through feedback loops. The IoB is able to gather, combine, and process data from sources like: commercial customer data; citizen data processed by public-sector and government agencies; social media; public domain deployments of facial recognition; and location tracking. Yet, this trend also raises ethical concerns. Therefore, privacy laws will impact the way IoB is adopted and scaled.
5. Total experience transforms business outcomes: multiexperience, customer experience, employee experience, and user experience intersect through technology, employees, customers, and users. The traditional approach has been to individually improve each one in a silo. Yet, linking these experiences sets a business apart from competitors in a way that is difficult to replicate, which leads to sustainable competitive advantage. This trend allows organizations to take advantage of COVID-19 disruptors like remote work, mobile, virtual and distributed customers, resulting in a more seamless and integrated experience for both customers and employees.
6. Maintaining security with privacy-enhancing computation: to protect big data while it’s being used, companies are investing in three technologies. The first allows sensitive data to be processed or analyzed in a trusted environment. The second executes processing and analytics in a decentralized manner. The third encrypts data and algorithms before processing or analytics takes place. With this trend, organizations can confidentially collaborate on research securely across regions and with competitors – a growing need in today’s digital-first age.
7. Deploying the distributed cloud: the future of cloud, distributed cloud services are distributed to different physical locations. Yet, the operation, governance, and evolution are the public cloud provider’s responsibility. Bringing these services physically closer to organizations helps with low-latency scenarios, reduces data costs, and helps satisfy laws that dictate data must remain in a specific geographical area. With distributed cloud, organizations still benefit from public cloud and don’t need to manage their own private cloud.
8. Evolving with cybersecurity mesh: this distributed architectural approach enables scalable, flexible, and reliable cybersecurity control. With many assets now existing outside the traditional security perimeter, cybersecurity mesh allows the security perimeter to be built around the identity of a person or thing. By centralizing policy orchestration and distributing policy enforcement, it enables a more interchangeable, responsive security approach.
9. Intelligent composable businesses prioritize flexibility: today’s businesses need to be able to adapt and rearrange themselves according to current situations. With accelerated digital strategies being built for faster digital transformation, agility is necessary to make fast, data-driven business decisions. To accomplish this goal, organizations need better access to information, must augment that information with better insight, and quickly respond to implications. Now, businesses can quickly react instead of being slowed by inefficient processes.
10. Hyperautomation increases efficiency: when organizations have legacy business processes that are not streamlined, expensive and extensive issues result. Organizations need support from technologies that are lean, optimized, and connected. Since digital business requires efficiency, speed, and democratization, anything that can be automated should be automated. Organizations that don’t prioritize efficiency, efficacy, and business agility will fall behind.
While technology development in 2021 will continue changes that began in 2020, it is important to note that the influence of COVID-19 will evolve as the year goes on. As new behaviors become part of 2021’s new normal, we can only expect to encounter – and benefit from – major technological and business innovations.
Stefanini is at the forefront of technology adoption and business process optimization. Our tailored solutions serve multiple industries, including retail, education, manufacturing and more. We’re here to help you keep up with the ever-evolving world of digital transformation. Let us assist you in mastering 2021’s technology trends. Chat with an expert today to get started!
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