This article was written together with Łukasz Kincel, Innovation Manager at nomtek
One thing in 2020 was certain — the uncertainty. All the trends and projections announced for 2020 have either been modified or their emergence delayed. But in technology, we’ve seen an unprecedented evolution.
E-commerce sales soared, online education matured, and on-demand services rose to huge popularity. To meet the sudden customer demand, companies across the globe have increased their spending on digital transformation.
This demand has in turn spurred the growth and branching out of multiple related services. Will 2021 be the continuation of that expansion or maybe other technologies will see increased adoption?
Let’s find out.
5G is a gateway to the realm of a mind-bending technological revolution. That’s not an overstatement — most of the technology trends of the future will be relying on that connectivity.
According to the annual state of the global mobile economy report by GSMA, by 2025, 5G will amount to 20% of global connectivity. And while the rollout pace isn’t yet astonishing, the hype around 5G keeps the public’s interest and curiosity up.
In 2021, we’re likely to see the expansion of 5G networks and the doubling of devices with 5G capability.
Streaming services have been steadily pounding down the traditional video delivery model. In 2021, streaming service providers are likely to grab an even larger chunk of the market.
And the game is now well beyond Netflix — with HBO, Disney, and other video streaming companies growing and evolving rapidly.
The increasing use of streaming services is putting a strain on broadbands, which have to endure remote work, videoconferencing, and data streaming. So again, 5G seems the answer to reliable connections at high speeds.
The growing availability and range of 5G is also likely to encourage the further growth of streaming services, especially mobile streaming.
Faster connectivity through 5G is a huge opportunity for the manufacturing industry. With speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G — and a much more reliable connection — 5G can be used in manufacturing facilities to develop and implement technologies that increase production and optimize processes.
For example, remote assistance with augmented reality lets businesses tap into the expertise of specialists located anywhere in the world. Thanks to AR, these professionals can guide others’ actions in real time.
In manufacturing facilities where equipment needs to be regularly maintained and monitored, remote AR expertise can help engineers solve complex malfunctions. Field technicians simply put on a headset or use a mobile phone to see instructions provided by a senior engineer remotely.
We’ve been talking about it a lot in recent months — we’re likely to see increased adoption of AR and VR devices and applications in 2021 and beyond.
Consumers are increasingly interested in AR entertainment. Augmented reality-enhanced music events, sports, movies, news, and culture are among the most enjoyed content types.
And even though mobile AR and VR apps can be somewhat limited by the slow speeds and processing powers of 4G networks and the devices themselves, 5G is likely to turn it around.
While low-code development solutions have been gaining traction for a few years now, their prime time is still yet to come. And 2021 might finally be the year when these solutions pick up for good.
Low-code development is a development method where there’s little to no code involved in the creation of software. In short, low-code development platforms automate the process of app creation — they help companies build simple apps quickly.
In recent years, low-code development solutions have gotten more and more advanced and sophisticated. Now businesses can prototype and build scalable apps without designing complex software architecture.
And while they’re nowhere near to replacing programmers, developers, or software architects, low code platforms can handle the creation of user interfaces, process designing, and database creation and implementation.
Low-code development can significantly cut down the time necessary for traditional development — a huge benefit for businesses that need to adjust their operations quickly.
Complex business processes still require experienced software engineers. But low-code platforms help companies quickly build and implement software that targets easy and repeatable processes. This way, engineers can focus on more complex processes and systems.
Activity trackers, phones, smartglasses, cars, cameras, and plenty of other devices collect data about you and your close ones. From your physical geographic location to your browsing history to even face recognition, companies have data galore about you.
The analysis of this highly personal data (your behavior, interests, and preferences) gathered by the Internet of Things devices is dubbed the Internet of Behavior (IoB).
The more we use online services and connected devices the larger amount of personal data we leave behind. Companies know very well about our political preferences, where we live, what we do, what we believe in, what our interests are, who we associate with, etc.
This data along with a slew of information coming from devices that are yet to enter the market (e.g., smartglasses that know exactly where you look at any given moment) will give businesses an unprecedented wealth of information to use to influence our behavior.
But the IoB also means several customer benefits — for example, the more data about driving patterns is collected from connected cars, the better driving experiences the automotive companies can build.
In 2021, we’re likely to see companies use the data from connected devices to create extremely personalized offers and products.
All that interconnectedness and data collection will result in a growing pressure on governments to start implementing tighter security and privacy methods. We can see higher regulatory activity from governments to combat the growing threat of privacy misuse.
Gartner predicts that within five years, half of large companies will have privacy-enhancing computation implemented to process data in unsecured environments.
Privacy-enhancing computation comes in three forms, trusted processing environment, decentralized processing, or data transformation (i.e., encryption).
With their reduced costs and low-latency, distributed cloud services will likely overtake traditional cloud computing.
In distributed cloud computing, cloud machines are located in different physical locations. This lets businesses use cloud services that are closer to them physically and get faster data processing times.
Also, when the cloud server is located in the same country as that of the company using the service, it helps companies adhere to laws that require them to store the data in a specified geographical location.
Distributed cloud services can form local subnets, which decreases the risk of network failure in case one service goes down. Also, many different data hosting locations in the distributed cloud environment increase service availability and lowers latency.
In short, distributed cloud services can address the changing business requirements with seamless performance.
Remote work was a big revelation in 2020 — many companies that lacked remote work capacity quickly adopted remote work solutions. Even companies who previously thought their staff wouldn’t perform equally well in the remote model have found that remote work increased employee satisfaction while keeping productivity stable.
2021 will be the continuation of the remote work trend, with companies either extending their work-from-home policies or simply enabling staff to work remotely long-term, if not permanently.
Forrester predicts that a lot of the workforce will come back to the office, the number of remote employees will still be 300% higher than before the pandemic.
The increase in the remote workforce will of course prompt the evolution of areas that specifically target the challenges coming from the remote work model, i.e., tools, technology, management, and leadership.
That said businesses will bet on artificial intelligence and robotic process automation to help employees perform their duties more effectively.
2020 revealed the need for companies to be nimble and agile in both technological adoption and business pivoting.
Hyperautomation in business promotes the idea of automating every process and workflow that can be automated. Especially those companies that rely on legacy technologies should look into hyperautomation to avoid losing money on archaic business processes.
Legacy processes are a serious hindrance that don’t allow any optimization, have little integration capabilities, and perpetuate overhead.
The streamlining and automation of processes will be a key differentiator for companies looking to rebound from the 2020 crisis.
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