Although no one could have possibly foreseen the unprecedented events of 2020, it’s now absolutely clear to everyone that we can’t expect everything to simply go back to as it was.
The question is, how do we make sure that, in 2021, we’re not caught out by the unexpected once more?
We can begin by setting out the tech trends predicted to play an important role not just in the New Year, but also throughout the years that will follow.
So here we’ve put together a list of the major trends for 2021 that you definitely need to keep your eye on.
1. The Internet of Behaviours
Gartner refers to the Internet of Behaviours (IoB) as a means of utilising the ‘digital dust’ – data that spans the digital and physical worlds – of peoples’ daily lives to drive behaviours, such as influencing how people behave at work.
To the more conspiratorial minded, it may all sound ominous rather than beneficial.
Yet in practical terms, the monitoring of drivers of commercial vehicles, for instance, leads to the detection of sudden braking or aggressive turns, data that can be leveraged to improve performance, routing and safety.
Similarly, health insurance companies can monitor areas including food intake and frequency of gym trips, resulting in adjusted premiums that can themselves be added spurs to improving behaviour.
The ‘digital dust’ highlighting and subsequently influencing behaviours through these kinds of feedback loops is being gathered at an ever-increasing pace.
Gartner predicts that more than half of the global population will be subject to at least one IoB programme by the end of 2025.
2. Anywhere Operations and Location Independence
The Anywhere Operations model is a vital component in the surge to emerge successfully from 2020’s troubles.
By the end of 2023, Gartner estimates that 40% of organisations will have applied Anywhere Operations in the urge to deliver an optimised blend of virtual and physical customer and employee experiences.
Managing the deployment of an organisation’s services across a distributed infrastructure, it’s a model enabling business to be accessed and delivered anywhere, regardless of where customers, employers and partners operate, including physically remote environments.
Although physical space obviously has it place, it will be digitally enhanced. So, for example, a physical store can offer customers a seamlessly delivered, contactless check-out.
On the other hand, mobile-only banks will handle everything from transferring funds to opening accounts with no physical interaction.
Ultimately, it delivers Location Independence, providing both work facilities and customer services to wherever a user requires them.
3. Total Experience
It’s time to capitalise on the expanse of remoting work and the mobile, virtual systems that serviced both the distributed employees and customers alike throughout the travails of 2020.
As opposed to individually improving each form of experience – customer experience, employee experience, and user experience – Total Experience combines and tightly links them all into a multiexperience capable of entirely differentiating a business from competitors in a way that’s difficult to replicate.
For example, a telecommunications company leveraged an existing app to deliver an appointment system alerting new arrivals to how long it would be before they could safely enter and maintain social distancing. It also provided a notification to guide them through the check-in process.
What’s more, it was all delivered to them as they came within 75 feet of the store.
Along with this, the company adjusted its service to include more digital kiosks, while also enabling employees to use their own tablets to co-browse customers’ devices without having to physically touch the hardware.
The result is a safer, more seamless and integrated overall experience for customers and employees.
4. Distributed Cloud
The move towards Distributed Cloud has been growing over the last few years as organisations increasingly migrated their applications and data to the public cloud.
In a Distributed Cloud, cloud services are distributed to different physical locations, allowing organisations to benefit from public cloud economics without the need to manage their own private cloud – leaving the responsibility for the complex and costly operation, governance and evolution to the public cloud provider.
Organisations will also find that these services are actually physically closer, solving low-latency issues, reducing data costs, and helping accommodate laws dictating that data must remain in a specific geographic area.
By 2025, according to Gartner, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services that begin at the point of need.
5. Privacy-Enhancing Computation
2020 undoubtedly changed how many people work and interact with organisations.
Nonetheless, people remain at the centre of all business activities. And in today’s environment, those businesses now require more than ever essential digitalised processes to fully function.
Both opportunities and the need to use trusted third parties for shared data and analytics have increased, leading to ever more complicated issues revolving around the dangers of exposing private details.
Protecting data in use while simultaneously maintaining secrecy and privacy, Privacy-Enhancing Computation features three important technologies to enable this.
First, it requires technologies providing a trusted environment where sensitive data can be processed or analysed.
Secondly, it must perform processing and analytics in a decentralised manner
And third, it must be capable of encrypting data and algorithms before processing or analytics even takes place.
Globally, privacy legislation is being introduced and enforced at an ever-faster rate.
And now Privacy-Enhancing Computation empowers organisations to collaborate on research securely across regions and with competitors without sacrificing confidentiality.
6. Cybersecurity Mesh
A Cybersecurity Mesh delivers a distributed architectural approach to scalable, flexible and reliable cybersecurity control.
The days when organisations could deploy and rely on the ‘walled city’ approach of a traditional security perimeter as protection against cyberattacks are swiftly coming to an end.
With the increasing use of cloud and ever more remote employees, a swiftly growing number of assets now exist entirely outside of the firewall.
A Cybersecurity Mesh, on the other hand, allows the security perimeter to be defined around an individual person or asset, rather than simply around the organisation, with policy enforcement handled through a centralised cloud-access security broker.
Enabling a more modular, responsive security approach, Cybersecurity Mesh technology enables people to access any digital asset securely, no matter where the asset is, or where the person is located.
The Cybersecurity Mesh is predicted to support more than half of digital access control requests by 2025, according to Gartner.
Many organisations are still being held back by a patchwork of unstreamlined legacy business processes and technologies that aren’t optimised, explicit, or connected, creating immensely expensive and extensive issues that need to be quickly addressed.
For a long time now, businesses have recognised the necessity of enabling the automation of repetitive manual activities, through utilising robotics and other similar technologies.
What’s required now, however, is an embracing of the now equally necessary process-based automation.
This entails automating a number of tasks in a process, leading to a further functional automation across multiple processes. Amongst the more enlightened organisations, this leads next to a move towards automation at the business ecosystem level.
This automating of as many things as possible across an enterprise is termed Hyperautomation.
In other words, to empower the acceleration of the efficiency, speed and democratisation any modern digital business requires, anything that can be automated in an organisation should be automated.
8. Intelligent Composable Business
The ability to flexibly adapt to any situation – expected or otherwise – is now a key component of any business activity.
To enable this, organisations must optimise access to information, augment that information with better insight, and possess the agility to respond quickly to the implications of that insight.
Any enterprise capable of adapting and fundamentally rearranging itself based on the situation and environment it finds itself in is an Intelligent Composable Business
Through leveraging parcelled business capabilities – or packages of functionality accessible through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) – a composable approach to application delivery brings together both better data access and better decision making.
It also empowers increasing autonomy and democratisation across an organisation, enabling individual parts of the business to react swiftly rather than being hindered by inefficient processes
9. AI Engineering
At some point, most organisation implementing AI projects face issues of maintainability, scalability and governance.
Responsible AI is becoming increasingly imperative, revolving around concerns regarding trust, transparency, ethics, fairness, interpretability, and compliance.
Whereas many of the larger enterprises are hopefully already aware of this challenge, end-user organisations who are moving out of the AI experimental stage into a more robust delivery model are yet to more fully comprehend the requirement for discipline and accountability.
A robust AI Engineering structure comprises governance aspects purposely designed to facilitate the consistent delivery, performance, scalability, interpretability, and reliability of AI models.
Making AI a part of the mainstream DevOps process rather than a set of specialised and isolated projects, an AI Engineering strategy brings together various disciplines to provide the discipline end-user organisations are seeking.
As Gartner explains, the adoption of engineering discipline is essential as, at present, only 53% of projects make it from AI prototypes to production.
10. Combinatorial Innovation and Resilient Delivery
As you’ve probably realised by now, providing your clients with an optimised Resilient Delivery model is dependent upon your own agile adoption and deployment of a combination of the technology trends rapidly coming into play in 2021.
Technology innovations rarely operate independently, tending instead to build on and reinforce each other’s capabilities and benefits.
Enabling organisational plasticity, Combinatorial Innovation will endow your clients with an enviable flexibility to pivot, adapt, and weather all forms of disruption.
Shouldn’t you make sure you and your clients are always at the forefront of leveraging the emerging technologies that will form the basis of any future trends?
You can start by exploring the many advantages of partnering with IBM. Because working together, we can build the brighter future we all want to live in.