It’s not just everyday life that has gone topsy turvy in the last year.
The technology that forms the backbone of small and medium sized businesses has been through 10 years of accelerated growth in just 10 months.
As the world’s workforce switched to working from home, SMBs counted on the very latest advances in digital tech to keep the wheels of their organisations moving.
With a new year upon us, it’s now time to think about what’s next.
What are the key tech trends set to emerge in 2021? And why should businesses like yours be thinking about them?
We’ve done our homework and we’re here to walk you through the nine key trends you need to keep an eye on.
Let’s dive in…
Source: Gartner, Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021
1.The Everything-as-a-Service revolution
In 2020, software-as-a-service (SaaS) emerged to play a vital role in the running of most small and medium businesses.
Cloud-based, easily-scalable platforms like Zoom became part of everyday life for employees everywhere as the pandemic took hold - and a saviour for organisations clambering to attempt ‘business as usual’.
Over the next 12 months, experts predict the everything-as-a-service revolution to take off. Made possible by the cloud provision from companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, we should expect to see more of the services we need via cloud-based, on demand platforms.
It means even start ups and small firms can access cutting edge tech without massive investment, opening the door to exciting possibilities such as AI and robotics.
2. Moving from the Cloud towards the Edge
There have been significant breakthroughs in cloud-to-edge integration over the last 12 months, paving the way for a shift towards the ‘Edge’ in 2021 and beyond.
Edge computing is the latest technology available to companies looking to level-up their operations. It reduces the distance data needs to travel, which can boost the performance, speed and reliability of applications and services.
The Edge is an exciting step forward for businesses who currently use the cloud, but need better, more reliable connectivity - but to fully embrace it, most businesses will require expert support.
Yes, it means faster internet - but that’s not all. 5G will reduce latency to virtually zero and offer greater bandwidth, which means it can handle more connected devices.
It will make using cloud platforms easier and faster and automation a feasible and reliable option for lots of businesses. It’s also predicted to help bring augmented and virtual reality services into the mainstream.
4. Increased privacy
Maintaining privacy and security while doing business across regions is a top concern for lots of companies.
In 2021, technology that safeguards data and enhances privacy is expected to take off. It will mean businesses can access a trusted environment in which sensitive data can be encrypted, analysed and processed, allowing for private and secure collaboration.
Hyperautomation refers to the use of advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA), to automate tasks that were once completed by humans.
The benefits for businesses of all sizes are clear. It boosts revenue and reduces costs. It helps organisations to achieve scale and flexibility in operations. It also improves employee productivity. And it transforms legacy systems to help businesses optimise the deployment of their resources.
Experts predict that businesses who don’t embrace hyperautomation in 2021 will suffer later down the line. In other words, anything that can be automated should be.
6. Increased democratisation
There’s a place in the digital economy for everyone - or at least there should be by the end of 2021.
Cloud technology is set to increasingly democratisation in the workplace, giving even small businesses affordable, on-demand access to the tech they need to compete on a bigger scale.
It means many businesses can look forward to new levels of innovation and saying goodbye to the inefficient processes that have previously held them back.
7. The Internet of Behaviour
You’ve heard about the Internet of Things, right? Now there’s a new kid on the tech block for 2021, the Internet of Behaviour (or IoB).
The IoB is an amalgamation of technology, data analytics and behavioural science. It’s about using data from both the physical and digital worlds to change behaviour and influence action.
For instance, Gartner explains how telematics can monitor behaviours of the drivers of commercial vehicles, and how that data can be used to drive better safety, driver performance and routing.
The IoB has the potential to provide businesses with a more in-depth and personalised understanding of their customers than ever before, paving the way for next-level marketing.
8. Anywhere operations
In 2021, it is predicted that an increased number of businesses will embrace what is known as ‘anywhere operations’.
Anywhere operations is about more than working from home or communicating virtually. It’s an IT operating model designed to enable business to be done anywhere.
The pandemic highlighted the need for businesses to adopt anywhere operations - but even after the pandemic ends, demand for it is expected to grow.
9. Zero Trust Security
The surge in employees working from home in 2020 exposed flaws in existing security set-ups that focussed primarily on securing the perimeter of a network.
Many businesses quickly realised that to thrive over the coming years, they must adopt a new ‘Zero Trust’ approach to security, which can thrive in a cloud-based environment.
Zero trust based on the principle: never trust, always verify. It offers enhanced protection of sensitive data and resources in a remote working environment because access to applications and data is based on a continuous verification of identity and devices, rather than a perimeter-based password login security system.
It is a relatively new and evolving approach to security, but one that is certain to stay.
Would you like expert help to get your business up to speed with the latest tech in 2021? ITEC can help. Contact your local team today.