6 Tech & Software Trends To Watch In 2021
It’s that time of year again. As we move into December it’s normal to start looking ahead to what next year may bring. But this time it’s different - after such a volatile and traumatic 2020, it’s tempting to look longingly at 2021 for a return to normality. At the same time, we know that ‘normal’ won’t mean the same as it did before the pandemic.
This is especially true when it comes to technology, with lockdowns and work-from-home guidelines forcing consumers and businesses to dramatically accelerate digital adoption. As a recent McKinsey report states: “In just a few months, the COVID-19 crisis has brought about years of change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business.”
With this in mind, here are 6 top tech and software trends to watch in 2021.
1. Ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI and machine learning (ML) are already transforming how we conduct businesses, but we’re likely to see more emphasis on ensuring these advances are made responsibly. Values-based consumers and employees will demand that AI is deployed ethically, especially when it involves the use of personal data or is used as a substitute for a job currently performed by humans. There are also widespread concerns about existing social issues being baked into AI programs - see, for example, accusations of gender bias against Goldman Sachs and Apple after last year’s launch of the Apple Card, for which men were allegedly offered higher credit limits. The growing risks of regulatory and reputational problems will make ethical AI an increasingly valuable proposition for business organizations.
2. Internet of Behavior (IoB)
We’ve all likely heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) by now, but what about the Internet of Behavior (IoB)? IoB is, in fact, an extension of IoT. As more people and devices are digitally connected, more data about our activities is collected, analyzed, and used to influence future behavior. Gartner has included IoB as one of its closely-watched top tech trends for 2021, arguing that it is something we should be preparing for individually and collectively. For example, it says, a watch that monitors our diet and physical activity may help some people lead healthier lifestyles, and even be rewarded with lower health insurance premiums for doing so. But what if those same companies start punishing you for buying sugary snacks? What about the potential for abuse of IoB by governments or businesses? The tension between IoB opportunities and privacy concerns will be an interesting dynamic over the coming years.
3. Next-Level Video Conferencing
The rise of the office video conference will surely be one of the main things we remember from 2020 - the hastily assembled home offices, noisy kids in the background, those awkward times our colleagues forgot to turn off their microphone or camera… We’ve all hopefully become experts on Zoom by now (with the help of some timely tips), and this will prove useful as even when health restrictions are lifted the number of employees permanently working remotely globally is set to double in 2021. Spurred by new 5G capabilities, video conferencing platforms are likely to incorporate new features and functions to make virtual meetings ever more professional and ‘real’. This could include the incorporation of more productivity tools such as real-time transcription (and translation) and video-clipping, as well as new AI tech such as Google’s new noise cancellation feature. Increasingly sophisticated virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools could also be used to take video conferencing to the next level in 2021.
Another trend on Gartner’s list for 2021, hyper-automation is essentially the premise that everything that can be automated should be. Most businesses are already investing heavily in automation and digitization, but there is often a need to optimize how different automated processes interact and ensure they do deliver more efficient outcomes. The automation of end-to-end workflow is the next step, dovetailing with advances in AI and cloud-computing to ensure business operations are smart, lean, and above all resilient.
5. Multicloud & Distributed Cloud Operations
Cloud-centric solutions are increasingly important for businesses that want to be digitally sustainable and competitive. Cloud services are already reducing operating costs, increasing flexibility, and making it easier for businesses to grow and innovate. A recent trend that is likely to continue is of organizations using multiple cloud service providers. This enables different departments to find the optimal solution - in terms of speed, security, and scale - for their specific needs. And then there’s a distributed cloud which, according to Gartner, is the future of the cloud. A distributed cloud is where cloud services are distributed to different physical locations to meet certain geo-location, security, or regulatory requirements. The end-to-end operation, governance, and evolution of this distribution remain in the hands of the public cloud provider. Benefits include reduced latency, lower data costs, and ease of compliance with local laws. Over time, Gartner envisages a world full of distributed cloud substations, some of which are open and shared like today’s public Wi-Fi hotspots.
6. Nearshoring Takes Central Stage
Yes, nearshoring is already a thing. And yes, it’s our thing. But we think it will become an increasingly critical strategic model in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The future of business will be digital and remote first - where it can be accessed and delivered from anywhere. This paves the way for increased outsourcing, and within that nearshoring is well-placed to play a leading role. With nearshoring, you get all the benefits of a dedicated team of offshore specialists without the costs and complexities of hiring in-house. But you also avoid problems that emerge from coordinating teams across wildly different time zones or dealing with cultural mismatches. Let’s face it, in the ultra-competitive digital world that we’re moving into, there’s just no time for that.
Our Latin America-based developers, for example, are an ideal nearshore solution for US-based companies. They work on a similar schedule, speak English, and are already familiar with US business culture and social norms. What’s more, the proximity means face-to-face communication is possible when required (once we’re all allowed to travel again). Latin American countries continue to upgrade their digital infrastructure, and the roll-out of 5G will enhance capabilities to provide nearshore services to the US market. Moreover, there are also hopes that a Joe Biden administration will encourage greater US engagement with the region, deepening trade, and investment ties.
We’re getting ready for 2021 at Jobsity, and if you want to find out more about how our nearshore staff-augmentation services can help your businesses start and grow, just get in touch!
If you want to stay up to date with all the new content we publish on our blog, share your email and hit the subscribe button.
Also, feel free to browse through the other sections of the blog where you can find many other amazing articles on: Programming, IT, Outsourcing, and even Management.