As the first quarter of 2021 comes to a close (where did that time go?!), technologists and business leaders are looking ahead and planning pathways for rebuilding and restructuring in the coming months. As much remains unpredictable, what we can say with confidence is that technology will play an essential role in those modernization and development efforts.
Whether your company is enhancing its cybersecurity, scaling systems for continued remote work, or implementing AI online chat boxes, many of the technology trends rising in popularity focus on digitization, convenience, and improving flexibility and resiliency in organizations across the board. We are taking a moment to discuss which tech industries are blowing up, and innovation trends to look out for in 2021.
Ripped from the headlines, these technical trends and terms are thrown around a lot, but what do they represent? You’ve heard the hype surrounding 5G and virtual reality, but how do these technologies vary in their practical application?
Extended Reality: Including both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), these technologies are rapidly improving and becoming available for use across industries. This year we predict we will see more uses beyond niche apps and the gaming world such as healthcare, development, agriculture, autonomous mobility, and more.
No Code/Low Code: This term refers to simpler, less feature-rich approaches to developing different kinds of software. Though requiring less technical skill, they allow for rapid development and updates, and can be used by a range of technologists.
5G: The next generation of cell networking is still being realized, although it is advertised nearly everywhere. After five years of hype and expansion of infrastructure, we may finally start to see a noticeable difference in speed and coverage by the end of 2021, and other devices capable of using these new networks.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Crucial in automation efforts, RPA leans on new techniques of machine learning and natural language processing to build out automation features in larger systems. 2020 saw an increase in demand for scaling and automating platforms and systems, we predict this trend will keep evolving in 2021.
Ambient Computing: Bringing digital enhancements to normal life, ambient computing refers to sensors, wearables, and natural language processing features that power smart tech like smart watches and home security systems.
Sustainability: From revamping old systems to new green-focused Startups, the tech industry is approaching resource conservation, efficiency, and minimizing impacts on the environment with renewed strength in 2021. Marrying sustainability and technology will set companies apart and drive innovation towards climate related issues and resource distribution that impact us all.
Social Engineering: A growing trend to be wary of, social engineering is the art of manipulating people to unknowingly give up personal data through illegitimate means. For the purposes of identity theft and data harvesting, hackers are finding new ways to siphon confidential or important information from individuals (basically by being super shady), which is easier than discovering new ways to hack your software.
Trend 1: Robotics, IoT, AI, Robotics & Industrial Automation
Last year, manufacturing and supply chains struggled to fill orders and keep up with the pace of distribution while also keeping workers safe. In 2021, there will be a surge in automation as supply chains return to their full operation and try to maximize output and efficiency. Other growing trends are integrations of AI, Robotics, and IoT technologies throughout systems that enhance everything from distribution efforts to aspects of everyday life like customer service.
Trend 2: The Rise of Telehealth and Telemedicine
The use of Telehealth technology and virtual meetings with physicians has surged over 50% higher than pre-2020 levels. Forrester Research predicted that virtual healthcare visits could reach over a billion by early 2021, with no signs of slowing down. Both private and public practices have started implementing more telehealth offerings included medication delivery, doctor-patient video appointments, and even AI based diagnostic programs.
Trend 3: Reshaping the Future of Education with E-Learning Tools
Globally, schools and learning institutions shut their doors and had to reimagine what teaching students all over the world would be like without in-person education. Now that certain e-learning and video communication tools have been fast-tracked for on-the-go learning, some institutions are seeing the huge opportunity in continuing to integrate virtual courses even after the pandemic. Learn more about these tools and how they are reshaping the future of learning in our post about Ed Tech.
Trend 4: Contactless Delivery, Coming To A Porch Near You…
Though multiple delivery service companies came under fire during the pandemic for not doing enough to keep employees safe, these services became absolutely essential to life last year. We all gained greater appreciation for those working in delivery and distribution, remember when truck drivers were the heroes of the month? The contactless delivery trend will continue to change the ways we shop and order as delivery companies provide a highly convenient, modern service.
Trend 5: 5G Will Finally Make Its Debut
Heightened by the pandemic and remote work, the demand for high-speed internet will push cities and rural locations to invest more in broadband infrastructure. Businesses of all sizes will want to look into utility and application development updates as 5G-6G internet technology becomes more ubiquitous. We will also see this tech in phones, cars, and home appliances as the tech evolves.
Trend 6: Cloud Computing
For companies who want to improve their digital record keeping and build an efficient digital archive, cloud computing is the answer. A huge trend from 2020 that will continue into this year, having a designated place for digital information, documents, and other resources is essential for security, accessibility, and having hybrid or remote workforces. Another element on top of cloud computing is managing the security of digital assets, so we are seeing a higher demand for tech skillsets related to Cloud computing, cybersecurity, and IT.
In these growing tech industries, companies will also raise the bar when it comes to training employees they already have. According to a study by CompTIA, only “37% of companies expect to bring on new headcount in 2021, compared to 75% that plan on pursuing training options and 54% that plan on certifying their workforce.” This phenomenon marks an ongoing cultural shift in business. Investing in tech learning, training, and creating pathways for development and leadership increases engagement, while decreasing turnover in your organization.
On top of bigger training budgets, big data is one final tech trend that's infiltrating nearly every industry. Over the last few years, the demand for big data analytics has been rising, as finding ways to strategically process large amounts of information is becoming hugely important for many companies. Regardless of industry, any company that has large-scale production processes, manufacturing, or high-volume inventory systems can benefit from data analytics. The goal is to better understand the customer base, data trends, and isolate areas for potential improvement. This trend will push companies to start digitizing, analyzing, and building roadmaps for big data sets, in turn increasing the demand for data scientists and data analytics officers.
From cloud computing to digitizing doctor’s visits, we are embracing technology in ways thought to be far off in the future before the pandemic. If there was a positive spin on the changes endured, it is the astonishing leaps technology developments made to accommodate, and the innovations that are yet to come. From your perspective, what other tech industries are blowing up or gaining steam? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
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