With the good news of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, this year is already proving to be more promising than the last. The technology industry was at the forefront of economic and societal changes in 2020, enabling the shift towards remote working, our increased reliance on digital services and allowing us to spend more time online. How will these trends continue to impact the industry in 2021? Here are a few areas that are set to stay in the limelight.
Internet of things (IoT) advances
Remote working has considerably increased the time people are spending in their own homes. This means that there is increased demand for seamless technology that brings together work, entertainment and more in one easy to use package. Given that remote and hybrid office/remote work is thought to be a permanent fixture of our lives moving forward, IoT will continue to be an important topic in 2021. In particular, companies in 2021 will focus on standardising IoT products in order to comply with government policy, improve security and achieve integration across devices.
5G becomes a reality
The digital transformation of 2020 has meant increased reliance on good connectivity and fast download speeds — and has proved beyond all doubt that 5G is vital in our technologically dependent world. 5G deployment was initially disrupted by the pandemic, but 2021 will see a renewed roll-out effort. Intel’s Caroline Chan (VP and general manager of 5G infrastructure division and network platform group) has said that CIO’s from a variety of large enterprises ‘are willing to spend 5-10% of their budget’ on 5G technology. In addition, almost every major handset manufacturer (including Samsung, Apple and Motorola) has either released or will soon release affordable 5G phones. Therefore, 5G is likely to become a reality for both large organisations and the individual consumer.
Security will continue to be a major concern in 2021. According to a report by McAfee, the combination of financial losses and cybersecurity spending cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion in 2020. It is now essential to access our work from multiple locations and devices, so the cybersecurity industry has to step up to the challenge. According to Gartner, cybersecurity mesh technology will be crucial in 2021 — this approach bases the security perimeter around the individual rather than whether they are inside the organisation — meaning that people can safely access digital resources, wherever they are. In addition, the roll-out of new technologies such as 5G means cybersecurity will have to prepare for new threats targeting such systems.
Open source innovation
The pandemic resulted in unprecedented data sharing and open collaboration practices in order to understand and combat the virus. In 2021, we could see the benefits of this shift. Github’s Erica Brescia, believes that we will see greater cross-industry collaboration and an increased pace of innovation across the entire world.
Artificial intelligence (AI) goes mainstream
Despite cuts to overall funding in 2020, technology budgets increased. The IDC predicts that global spending on AI will double in the next four years, reaching $110 billion in 2024. In addition, the incredible volume of data produced in 2020 means that algorithms will become ever more sophisticated. Experts have suggested that AI developments in 2021 will accelerate development in the healthcare industry, transform telecommunications and result in an explosion of truly smart devices being produced (including IoT).
It’s clear that 2021 has plenty in store. Digital transformation and the shift to remote work has far-reaching implications that will continue to shape our professional and personal lives. Hopefully, innovation will be the silver lining in the years to come.