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The future is now: 7 expert tech predictions for 2021

2021

This year was certainly a difficult one, but that shouldn’t dampen our spirits going into 2021. While most of the workforce was managing from home with an immense reliance on technology, next year, we can expect technology to find an even deeper way of integrating with our lives. 

To find out how this might happen, we reached out to some prominent companies in the tech space. With that in mind, here are some tech predictions from UKTN for the coming year. 

Cloud infra: Deeper integration with IT infrastructure 

The services we rely upon, be it a Zoom call or sharing documents online, they all are powered by cloud services. Google Cloud tells us their prediction for the next year that cloud will no longer just be an IT infrastructure decision but it will be infused into a company’s culture and drive new operating models. Additionally, next year, we could witness a more “open” cloud, which builds new environments, enhances employee and customer experiences, reduces costs, increases operational efficiencies and boosts revenue. 

Medtech: New ways to combat mental health epidemic

In quarantine and in-between lockdowns, anyone’s mental health is bound to be impacted. As per Sheena Pirbhai, CEO/Founder at SPHERE, “Next year, innovative tech could help tackle the mental health epidemic by democratising access to treatment. Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year. New treatments such as digitised Neurofeedback can deal with the mind’s emotional response to trauma and reset unhealthy patterns that have developed over time due to stress, anxiety or PTSD.” 

Dan Stevens, CTO/Co-founder at SPHERE adds, “Next year, we will see a shift in the way the digital healthtech ecosystem uses components and exchanges learnings to better solve problems. The integration of wearables and SaaS within the ecosystem, driven by mergers and acquisitions of digital health companies, will enable greater accuracy and innovation. We will see a combination of digitised treatments and hardware-driven sophisticated tracking and measurement (i.e. cortisol-levels) coupled with AI, taking us further than ever before.”

Payments: Making things easier 

2020 was all about digitisation and digital payments witnessed unprecedented growth. While this year, most of the growth was focussed around consumer payment options, next year, there’s expected to be a greater push for global B2B payments innovation. Additionally, next year we can anticipate increased integration between platforms, fintechs and banks. This will help businesses adopt simpler, one-stop ‘plug in’ systems that could suit their needs.

In 2021, we can also expect more businesses to adopt a digital life. Outdated legacy systems are expected to finally upgrade, as traditional bricks and mortar backs strive to grow and not get stuck behind. We can also witness increased collaboration between banks and fintechs as the two institutions are expected to deliver their services to more partners who want to levy their services instead of building an in-house solution.

More women representation in tech

Women are making their way into the tech space, which is mostly a male-dominated sector. However, there’s still a notable disparity between female representation in product organisations versus engineering organisations. As per Sarah Earl, Head of Product at RingGo, UK’s leading cashless parking provider, education plays a notable role in this. “A focus in engineering still begins early and forces you down, what feels like, a rigid path. Product organisations, on the other hand, bring together people from multiple different backgrounds, are more inclusive and collaborative, and cater to people who might not have necessarily started in tech when they were teenagers.” says Earl.    

She adds, “This trend could change as the way we educate children changes. Currently, they are exposed to coding, and technology in general at a young age. Thus, tech will become a natural fit for many to pursue an education and a career in. The little girls of today, will become the tech leaders of tomorrow.”

More apps and closing the digital divide

This year, most of the workforce shifted base to adopt work from home as the new norm. As a result, tech industries performed rather well as their services gained widespread adoption. However, this was a result of almost everyone going digital. From small village stores, fish and chip vans to baby groups. Everyone relied on apps to get things done and make online payments. This trend is expected to continue throughout 2021. 

“2021 will continue – if not quicken – this trend of embracing digital solutions, and apps will be at the centre of it. Organisations need to focus on accessibility and the usability of apps, while considering a more security conscious consumer base.”   

5G & Edge computing: The next data explosion?

The 5G technology is now starting to roll out worldwide. As per the global cybersecurity company Tanium, the new technology will drive most data growth next year. The firm also claims that more devices will be added to the fray over the next five years than we have in the time leading up to 2021. Additionally, businesses and consumers will try to get everything connected while CIOs will need to figure out a way to scale their technology stack from supporting thousands of endpoints to millions of endpoints. 

Also, while 5G technology holds great promise, more 5G roll-outs in 2021 will lead to more devices connecting to the Internet at higher speeds. However, if the content is stored far from the mobile device, it will need to traverse through multiple networks and each hop is a bottleneck. One way to overcome this is to leverage edge technologies which bring the content close to the user, reducing the distance the data must travel. As such, edge technologies like CDNs (Content delivery networks) will become even more essential in 2021. 

As for edge computing, Dan Graham, Global Product Leader, Mobile edge computing, WWT says, In 2021, Edge will be critical in creating new revenue streams for network operators, helping offset the costs of executing their 5G strategy. Increasingly, Enterprises are looking towards Edge computing as a solution to help fix business problems, decrease cost, and increase efficiency.”

COVID-19 & cybersecurity

While 2020 is on its way out, that doesn’t mean that the Coronavirus pandemic will magically disappear. While vaccines are being rolled out and more are being developed, it will still take some time to get ahead of the virus. As people still work from home, companies will need to find ways in 2021 to support more types of devices for employees. As the pandemic continues, there are companies who can’t purchase enough computers for their remote workforce. Next year, we can see such companies either adapt or fall behind. There have also been reports of increased cybercrimes and companies will need to beef up their security to mitigate such attacks.