Top Tech Trends to Lookout for in 2021
By Shafiya Nawzer
During the year ahead, technology will help us emerge from the pandemic in ways big and small. As we are here at the end of a crazy 2020, many of us are suffering from COVID-19 exhaustion. But as two vaccines begin their rollouts, we’ve also begun to visualise what post-pandemic life might be like.
Most would agree that the new normal that begins to take shape in 2021 won’t be the old one. By forcing us from our routines, the pandemic has prompted us to re-examine the ways we live and work, and how we mix life and work together.
Necessity being the mother of (re)invention, the Covid-19 crisis has dramatically accelerated corporate digital transformation. As companies hurry to develop new digital capabilities to build resilience and retool for the post-pandemic world, keeping up with fast-moving technology trends is critical. Get ready for more technology and services to make homeworking easier and more secure.
Internet of Behaviours
As demonstrated by the COVID-19 protocol monitoring example, the Internet of Behaviours (IoB) is about using data to change behaviours. With an increase in technologies that gather the ‘digital dust’ of daily life data that spans the digital and physical worlds that information can be used to influence behaviours through feedback loops.
For example, for commercial vehicles, telematics can monitor driving behaviours, from sudden braking to aggressive turns. Companies can then use that data to improve driver performance, routing, and safety.
The IoB can gather, combine and process data from many sources including Commercial customer data; citizen data processed by public-sector and government agencies; social media; public domain deployments of facial recognition; and location tracking. The increasing sophistication of the technology that processes this data has enabled this trend to grow.
Continued expansion of remote working and videoconferencing
This area has seen rapid growth during the pandemic, and it will likely continue growing in 2021. Zoom, which grew from a startup in 2011 to going public in 2019, became a household name during the pandemic. Other existing large corporate tools such as Cisco's Webex, Microsoft's Teams, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and Verizon's BlueJeans are also providing state-of-the-art videoconferencing systems, facilitating remote work across the globe.
Many new ventures are emerging in the remote working sector. These tools also help distributed teams keep track of shared learning and documentation. Users can create a virtual office that replicates working together in person by letting colleagues communicate and collaborate easily.
In cybersecurity, authentication rights, and network access
According to Interpol, the Covid-19 crisis has created an unprecedented opportunity for cybercriminals to increase their attacks. Yet most companies overestimate their cybersecurity performance, with only 24 per cent meeting the bar, according to a 2020 Bain study. Identifying common IT security weaknesses and developing cybersecurity maturity is central to building truly resilient digital organizations.
One approach hackers take is to compromise a company’s active directory (AD) infrastructure, which controls user authentication rights and company network access. Using this approach, a cybercriminal could take over a CEO’s phone, usurp his or her identity, and access confidential internal information. Cybersecurity advises clients to tailor security, invest in monitoring to detect attacks in real-time, and investigate.
It's also been a disastrous year for many retailers. The trend towards online shopping went into overdrive, as customers were stranded at home during lockdowns. Retailers that survive may face new technology in 2021.
It's been reported that Amazon will expand its Go store chain - shops that don't have a checkout. For customers, it would speed up shopping as they can pick up the products they want and just leave the store. A clever combination of cameras and artificial intelligence tracks what they have taken and bills them when they leave.
Contactless delivery and shipping remain as the new normal
Many places have increased the preference for contactless operations, with various industries implementing alternative processes. No-contact delivery is the new normal. Uber Eats, Pick Me and Eat Me, all offer drop-off delivery options, reportedly borne from customer desires to minimise physical contact.
It has been a horrible year for the aerospace industry. One of the industry's biggest customers, the airline sector, is cancelling or delaying orders as carriers cope with a collapse in air travel.
Despite that horror show, both companies say they are committed to research and development, in particular developing planes that have a much smaller impact on the environment. In September, Airbus unveiled three concept hydrogen-powered designs.
Also in 2021, watch out for an electric aircraft from Rolls-Royce called the Spirit of Innovation. The company hopes the sleek machine will break the world speed record for an electric aircraft by flying at more than 300mph.