A tumultuous year that everyone’s glad to see the back of, 2020 is finally over. We can’t completely ignore it though, because it’s set in motion some huge changes for technology that have been a long time coming.
As we look to the future, and hope for a better 2021, let’s look at what we suspect will be the biggest technology trends to watch in 2021 for IT businesses.
We’re sure artificial intelligence has made it onto one of these lists every year for the past decade. There’s a simple reason for this. As AI keeps getting smarter, the possibilities it brings keep growing.
AI usage in businesses has become even more common due to the pandemic. Using the data collected on infection rates and lockdown effectiveness, AI helped us predict demand for hospitals and healthcare providers.
For non-healthcare businesses, AI allowed them to understand how customer behaviour changed throughout 2020. Though the vaccine is on its way, AI can help us predict whether these new behaviours are permanent or passing.
Edge AI in particular brings exciting new opportunities for businesses. Edge AI is a network infrastructure that allows AI algorithms to run on the edge of a given network.
It offers a lot of possible benefits including preserving bandwidth, as there’s no need to send data to the cloud if AI is embedded locally. This has the additional benefit of dropping connectivity costs and reducing latency issues.
On a final note on AI, businesses will do well to work with ethically sound AI partners. Data ethics and best handling practices remained a hot topic throughout 2020. We expect this to continue throughout 2021.
Drones and Vehicle Automation
2020 saw the roads empty and 2021 doesn’t look to be changing that anytime soon. This has allowed for more efficient testing of self-driving vehicles. Don’t believe us?
Then believe Amazon. They bought Zoox in June last year. The company aims to build autonomous vehicles that people will be able to order just like an Uber or a taxi.
This isn’t the only automated transport Amazon is taking an interest in. They’ve been looking into drones since 2019, branded as Prime Air. The aim is to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less.
That might just be a reality soon. The Federal Aviation Authority issued its final version of safety rules for drone flights just last week.
All this could mean big changes for businesses, especially those who sell on Amazon or with other large retailers.
5G is in the news pretty regularly already, though most often due to some eccentric conspiracy theorist.
Just as 3G opened the door for mobile web browsing and 4G opened the door to streaming entertainment on the move, 5G offers similar new opportunities. Cloud-based gaming platforms such as NVidia’s GeForce Now or Google Stadia become possible on the move. Augmented and virtual reality anywhere, anytime is at our fingertips.
In essence, 5G presents the possibility of making fibre-based networks redundant. With remote work booming, the practical need to be tethered to a location becomes less and less of a reality.
For businesses, 5G unlocks a realm of technological possibilities. It will allow for faster and more reliable data sharing in real-time. For manufacturing, in particular, this could allow machinery new communication capabilities.
Remote Work Technologies
As we mentioned above, 2020 was the year we all stayed home. Many employers allowed employees to work from home for the first time. Now it’s the new norm and many aren’t planning to go back.
Leading tech giants like Twitter have said their employees never need to go back into another office. While it’s not practical for some businesses, many have seen increased productivity and well-being. As well as reduced costs from no longer running a physical office.
Much of this success can be put down to the remote work technologies we saw explode in 2020. Services like Zoom, Teams and WebEx have seen usage they couldn’t have dreamed of in 2019.
Investing in remote working technologies is future-proofing your company. If working from home remains the reality, many businesses will lose out on the best employees if they don’t keep up with this trend.
Cybersecurity is by no means a new technology trend. We’ve had cybersecurity for as long as we’ve had hackers.
Removing to remote work presented new challenges for cybersecurity though. As more employees work remotely on new or even their own devices, hackers gained new opportunities.
Most companies think they’re doing well at cybersecurity. But a 2020 study suggests as little as 24% of businesses are actually doing enough to protect themselves online. As data laws continue to increase the protection of consumers, comprehensive cybersecurity has never been a more cost-effective investment.
One way businesses are addressing this is with cybersecurity mesh. This technology allows users to secure individuals as well as the organisation. This covers remote workers and protects assets.
Virtual, Augmented, and Extended Reality
We mentioned this briefly when talking about 5G possibilities, but it deserves its own section. Though VR, AR and XR (extended reality) are commonplace in the gaming and entertainment industries already, they present new possibilities for many businesses.
Last year proved many medical examinations and diagnoses can be carried out remotely. If we extend this trend to other industries, many once in-person transactions could be done remotely too. For example, eye tests or choosing glasses.
In education too, this technology offers incredible possibilities for avoiding crowded classrooms. Remote learning could be easily enhanced with any of these technologies.
Keep Up With Technology Trends
While not all these technology trends will be applicable for every business or industry, it’s vital to keep on top of emerging trends to stay competitive. If you need help keeping on top of IT trends, we’re here. Just get in touch.