Top Technology Trends for 2021
- Artificial Intelligence applied
- Improved connectivity and 5G
- Hybrid Cloud and the “As a service” model
- Teleworking tools
- Cybersecurity mesh
- IoB (Internet of Behaviors)
- Virtual and Augmented Reality
- Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrencies
- Privacy-enhancing computation
- Digital Health
- Automated vehicles
- Robots and drones
The technological trends of 2021 come driven by a 2020 marked by the COVID pandemic. A year that has marked a global turning point in the digital transformation of both individual users and companies, who have seen the technological world become their best ally. From small businesses that have had to reinvent their services based on business data studies, to a large number of SMEs that have put their efforts in promoting their business through ecommerce platforms, or large companies that have had to implement telework in a forced manner and at high speed.
According to IDC forecasts, 65% of global GDP will be digitized by 2022, generating nearly $7 trillion of IT spending in 3 years. There are many technological innovations that will accompany us this 2021, and the experts of the big tech agree that the great trend will be the 5G. But it is not the only one, because Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity and automation, among many others, will play a great role.
Artificial Intelligence applied
During the last years, we have lived a stage of great technological advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence. It is not a new discipline, but the novelties and applications have been assuming an essential role in many areas and sectors, which have adopted this solution in their daily lives.
One of the main trends this year will be the adoption of an Artificial Intelligence engineering strategy applied in all types of companies. This will seek to improve the performance, scalability, interpretation and reliability of the models of this technology, as well as revalue the investment in it. It will have great visibility in the health care sector, focused on monitoring the large amount of data that are handled related to COVID-19, such as the infection rate, contagion tracking, vaccination status…
The numbers are decreasing, but there are still people reluctant to this type of technology, so the tendency will be to go towards an ethical and responsible Artificial Intelligence, which will answer problems related to transparency or equity.
Improved connectivity and 5G
The pace of life we lead requires a faster and better-quality connectivity model, but also one that generates trust. Since the emergence of 3G, we have seen how advances in mobile connectivity have been unlocking new functionalities in the use of the Internet.
If we look at all of them, 3G made web browsing and data services very important in mobile services. The 4G oversaw growing the image, video and music platforms. And what will the 5G bring?
The 5G network arises from the need to support advanced technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, as well as cloud-based gaming platforms (Google’s Stadia or NVidia’s GeForce Now) in a viable way. Another consequence of this service is the threat to fiber and cable networks, which do not offer the possibility of enjoying connection anywhere.
In summary, this high-speed network makes it possible for other trends, found in this article, to be available no matter when and where.
Hybrid Cloud and the “As a service” model
One of the most important services in recent years, and that will be even more important in the future, is the cloud. Many companies have been moving their data to the cloud thanks to its numerous advantages such as cost savings, scalability, offshoring, managed services… The so-called “As-a-service” refers to the provision of the services we need to work across cloud-based on-demand platforms and has become a key service for digitalization.
During the pandemic, many companies have been able to adapt to teleworking by hosting their data in the cloud, where response latency has been reduced and GDPR compliance has been allowed.
Thanks to the offering of companies like Microsoft with Azure, or Google and Amazon, companies and developers can implement the latest technology with a small initial investment. The cloud has become a tool more than usual in our daily lives and is that the hybrid cloud has managed to eliminate the complexity of a multi-cloud environment, unifying management and being more transparent. Everything indicates that it will continue to grow more and more.
The previous point has a lot to do with this type of work that for many seemed very far away one year ago. Health conditions have meant that businesses and workers have had to set up their homes as a new place of work, and that is why the technology around the workplace has evolved by leaps and bounds in a short period of time.
Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Google Meet are some of the examples of platforms that have focused on supporting cloud systems and adding improvements, updates and have been adapted to the needs of their users.
From here, some platforms like Microsoft Teams are going to go a step further and have set out to analyze our behavior when using the tool and help us to be better and more productive. The novelties that will bring 2021 will focus on helping us to take advantage of time, organize ourselves better, make the right breaks…
Derived from the previous point, one of the major headaches for companies, when taking work out of the office environment, has been the management of safety in connections or in the equipment and devices themselves. With the adoption of teleworking, many companies have deployed fragile and vulnerable solutions, exposed to very dangerous cyberattacks.
This is where cybersecurity mesh, a distributed architectural approach to scalable, flexible and reliable cybersecurity control, would come in. This cybersecurity mesh essentially allows the security perimeter to be defined around a person’s or thing’s ID. These characteristics are based on a modular technology that allows the governance and centralization of policies, as well as their application within the company.
Because many companies are going to continue the mode of remote work for an indefinite time, they will have to implement security among their tools, regardless of location.
IoB (Internet of Behaviors)
Another trend that is gaining strength is the IoB (Internet of Behaviors), which takes over from the IoT (Internet of Things). IoB refers to the use of personal data on biometrics, facial recognition, sensors such as activity wristbands, driving styles in vehicles, daily activity routines, etc., to provide personalized and tailored services.
At first glance, it might remind a little of a “big brother” who watches our behavior during daily life, but has many beneficial applications. For example, an analysis of a person’s driving might give you guidelines on how to improve your performance and safety. On the other hand, it could also serve insurance companies to reward drivers with a more prudent driving style.
According to predictions, more than half of the population will use IoB services and products by 2025.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Immersive technologies have been searching for the site that belongs to them for a long time, but the limitations of the moment, both software and hardware, left many of these jobs without activity. There were many applications to which one wanted to aspire, but the technology did not achieve the expected precision.
Fortunately, this situation has changed radically and Augmented and Virtual Reality is becoming a niche in multiple industries, and not just in the video game niche, which had been, until now, the most exploited field.
This year, we will see the use of VR lenses or headphones that help reduce the exposure of the staff of an optics, for example, that can offer a tool for their customers to test the different models of glasses without leaving home. But it is not the only thing, because we will also see it in the educational field, where the need to work in classrooms with a high number of students can be reduced.
These tools can even be used to help prevent infection. For example, alarms may be sounded when we touch a door in a public space and reminded us that we should wash our hands when we are going to touch our face.
Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrencies
It may seem that the boom around Blockchain technology has been left in a distant 2017, but it is not. In recent years, this technology and cryptocurrencies have been very productive in several industries. So much so, that many experts predict that, in about 10 years, digital assets will become our “new normality“.
In 2020, Bitcoin has had a large revaluation (it has multiplied by 4 its value), which has attracted the attention of many investment funds and private investors, who have made value reserves against gold or conventional currencies. That is why this revaluation has revived initiatives based on cryptocurrencies, Blockchain technology and decentralized finance (DeFi).
At first glance, it may seem like the most distant technology, but it will have a great impact as a boost to other digital activities, such as Artificial Intelligence. Why? The AI algorithms increasingly require greater computing capacity and that “brute force” is one of the advantages that quantum computing can offer us.
Gartner believes that it will cause trend technology capable of protecting data, while maintaining the privacy of users. Privacy-enhancing computing features three technologies that protect data while in use.
- The first provides a trusted environment in which sensitive data can be processed or analyzed.
- The second performs processing and analytics in a decentralized manner.
- The third encrypts data and algorithms before processing or analytics.
This allows organizations to share their data from anywhere and without sacrificing confidentiality. It is closely related to cybersecurity and will be key in the world of work of the future.
The technological applications of augmented reality, AI, Big Data, robotics, Machine Learning, etc., are endless if we move them to the health sector. We have already seen how Moderna, a pharmaceutical company, has managed to design its vaccine against COVID-19 in record time, creating, in addition, a system capable of programming genomic applications, Synthetic mRNA, and attach it as if it were software intended for a computer or mobile device.
These biomedicine techniques were little known beyond the academic sphere, but cases such as CRISPR-Cas9 have made these techniques more visible, and now open the possibility of promoting the development of new treatments for many diseases, that are still very harmful to humanity.
It is clear that by 2021 advances will go much further, and technology will be a key factor in medical research. In addition, telemedicine has become a very recurrent complement to face-to-face medical care. Many companies are developing apps and products that allow consultation with specialists from anywhere.
Given the circumstances of pollution caused by the gases emitted by the combustion of traditional cars, the future of vehicles, both individual and collective, will move towards a more environmentally friendly system.
An example is the great growth that the company Tesla is having on the stock market with its commitment to electric and autonomous vehicles. This trend will go further, as inertia and awareness have already been created so that the shift towards this model of cars goes further among the rest of manufacturers. Even Apple has already announced its intention to enter the car sector in 2024, and many countries are giving tax incentives to people who opt for this type of vehicle.
On public transport, boosting efficiency in public transport networks will be a priority for service providers and civic authorities. Initiatives around autonomous vehicles will continue at an increasing pace, reducing labour costs and helping to balance uncertainty around customer demand.
Robots and drones
Following the previous point, in recent years we have seen how, timidly, robots were being introduced for the care and assisted living of people with special needs. Now, they will be a key point in interacting with the sectors most vulnerable to disease infection, such as the elderly.
This does not mean that they are a complete substitute for human interaction with caregivers, but they will provide 24-hour support 7 days a week when staff cannot help them or simply cannot keep them company. In addition, when companies require maintenance, robots can also perform cleaning and safety tasks.
For their part, drones can be used for the administration of medicines, as well as sources of information to monitor public areas where the risk of transmission of the virus can be measured.
The past 2020 has been a litmus test for digital transformation processes and they have seen how they should accelerate their pace in a minimum of time. Technologies such as the cloud have been key to the workplace, but, by 2021, these and others will need to be consolidated on even stronger pillars. Automation will have a strong presence in virtually all areas of our lives and we are optimistic about the technological advances that await us.