Nobody expected 2020 to end up this badly. After a year of economic uncertainty, rapidly changing work conditions and widespread digital transformation, companies were forced to implement the work-from-home approach.
The Information Technology industry became a magnifying glass for a long-awaited digital transformation. As 2021 is just around the corner, business leaders must get ready to embrace changes and get used to the new trends that seem to be settling in for good.
Here is a list of my personal tech trend predictions for the upcoming year. If you are making plans to change your career path, or perhaps develop a new business development strategy or even investing in order to capitalize on emerging trends, you should definitely take these into consideration.
At our current technological pace, our ability to produce ever smaller and faster computers is slowing down. Scientists believe that the next giant tech leap involves harnessing the laws of nature, notably quantum physics. Quantum computing is still a new concept known mostly to enthusiasts, yet major technology companies are investing millions of dollars to fuel research in quantum computing. This research will only increase through 2021 and beyond (even though the technology is progressing at a fairly slow pace). A quantum computer would take just a second to achieve what a traditional computer would take years to process. Have a look at the video below that will explain the basics of quantum computing.
Quantum computing will likely take decades to filter into the mainstream but big tech companies are fully aware that traditional technology is slowly reaching its maximum potential. More complex problems can be solved much more easily using quantum supercomputers.
There are endless applications that quantum computers could be used for. Finance and investment experts could use them to optimize portfolios, simulate economic forecasts and for complex risk analyses. Scientists would benefit from speeding up discoveries in chemical bonding, space travel, AI and machine learning, or even human consciousness itself. The possibilities are endless. Labs all over the world are competing to produce the first commercially available quantum computer and major players such as Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have been betting big on quantum computing for years now.
Remote work is here to stay
The option of working from home has been available for years, yet the 2020 global restrictions brought non-negotiable working conditions to the table as people all over the world were simply not able to physically go into work. It has been a real challenge for many companies as their IT departments suddenly had to face a significant increase in the demand for networking, storage and application delivery solutions to support a work-from-home workforce.
It is still far from perfect but we might observe a rapid growth of solutions for more structured remote-working protocols. IT teams distributed across the globe suffer from well-known issues such as time zone differences, so implementing solutions for asynchronous working patterns might become one of the most wanted suites helping to support the new wave of stay-at-home professionals.
Cloud technology offers an agile solution, providing an environment that allows cost reduction as businesses face the challenge of keeping employees and customers connected. It’s easily scalable, both up and down, and also a distributed cloud can improve an application’s performance and reduce latency, leading to better connectivity.
Nevertheless, cloud management requires collaborative professionals who understand the importance of secure remote access and who are able to deliver high-quality services in a fast-changing environment.
Worldwide talent pools
As remote work is quietly becoming mainstream, companies tend to look for talents outside of the local talent pool, and vice versa. If you do not have to go to the office every morning, you might as well start earning better pay by working for a company on the other side of the globe!
In a booming market of “remote-work ready” IT professionals, talents will start to look outside of the large technology centers and start to think globally. This creates a great opportunity for anyone who can create a well-branded, “go-to” place for anyone looking for a remote IT job, or a tech professional looking for a work-from-home opportunity.
New cybersecurity challenges
The governance, privacy and security requirements that many organizations struggle with can get much more demanding as remote work and cloud technology introduces new data privacy and security challenges. Cloud security requires proper configuration and a trained eye for monitoring. It is important to note that 99 percent of cloud misconfigurations go unnoticed. In 2021, organizations will be forced to implement privacy-enhancing measures and cybersecurity solutions to protect sensitive data and ensure security policies in the cloud.
Quantum computing could also make us more susceptible to security breaches because of the staggering volume of calculations these technologies can do. Even though we won’t be seeing hackers using quantum computers any time soon, there is no denying that the risk is too big to not take the appropriate preventative measures. The United States government passed the National Quantum Initiative Act in June 2018 which is a great indicator of how this future trend will move. In 2021, governments and big tech companies will try to accelerate post-quantum security measures and cryptography development to protect the internet as we know it today. We cannot afford to build quantum computers without countermeasures or security systems too complex to solve, even for a quantum computer.
VR and 5G are going mainstream
Covid-19 has significantly influenced the way we interact with each other. Virtual collaboration, video calls and remote work in general will likely continue in a post-covid world, creating the need for a more reliable and faster technology. We will need more connectivity and a higher bandwidth than ever before and this is where VR/AR and 5G offer solutions to our demand for virtual interaction, higher speed and bandwidth.
5G networks are already going mainstream in some countries but in 2021, this tech will most likely go mainstream globally. Major phone manufacturers have already launched 5G ready phones. 5G will also allow advanced technologies like AR, VR and game streaming platforms like Stadia and GeForce to become more viable and work better than ever.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for companies around the world, producing economic uncertainty and forcing organizations to shift to remote work. During the time of rapid changes, IT departments have to make the right decisions to maintain business continuity and future-proof their companies. The work-from-home approach has also caused major changes in both hardware and software spending. Some companies will likely stick to flexible working arrangements permanently, trying to focus or compensate for lower productivity by developing more strict remote work structures and workflows.
To gain perspective on how this great shift will influence IT in the coming years, SWZD surveyed over 1000 technology buyers in companies across North America and Europe in order to provide context into the magnitude of the shifts expected in 2021.
- 44% have already started, or plan to start accelerating their digital transformation.
- 33% plan to improve their security, risk and governance.
- 30% plan to develop training aids to support remote employees.
- 36% plan to improve IT operations and systems performance.
- 32% plan to connect employees using standardized, secure and easy-to-use tools.
- 27% plan to refine disaster recovery plans to account for additional scenarios.
- IT spending will grow by 4% up to 3.8 trillion dollars worldwide.
- 80% of businesses in North America and Europe anticipate year-over-year tech spending to stay the same or increase (33.3% increase vs. 46.3% stay the same).