Tech Trends 2021

Everything as a Service (XaaS)

The reality is that ‘everything’ is now serviceable – this includes anything in the IT sector that can be delivered as a service via the internet. Everything as a Service simply denotes the increasing Servitisation of technology, which we have seen throughout 2020.

In 2020, Software as a Service played a vital role in the running of a large proportion of businesses.

2021 will see a XaaS revolution, a shift that has been accelerated by mass cloud adoption.

Cloud-based communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams became a part of everyday life for employees everywhere when lockdown restrictions began and were considered the saving grace that supported ‘business as usual’.

XaaS will especially help SMEs throughout 2021, as easier accessibility to cutting-edge technology opens exciting possibilities such as AI and robotics.

Business Model Innovation in the Remote Working World

Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 25%-30% of the workforce will be working from home several days a week by the end of 2021. It is therefore predicted that businesses will embrace what is known as ‘Anywhere Operations’.

Anywhere Operations is about more than just working from home and communicating virtually. It is a secure and effective IT operating model which is designed to fit the specific business needs, allowing them to operate successfully from anywhere.

Every business leader throughout 2020 has reflected on and reviewed how their business operates. Although market shifts and efficiencies have always been paramount to business success, the current climate and contracting economy is forcing these strategic decisions and thought processes further up the priority list.

It is predicted that new start-ups are less likely to adopt the office working environment at all, replaced by remote working, and helped greatly by cloud solutions.

Using technology effectively and in harmony with business operations is key. The quick-fix working from home solutions that were implemented in 2020 are not sustainable. 2021 will see further development of adopting more tailored and long-term solutions.

From streamlining communications, to reviewing connectivity, to improving efficiencies through the use of ERP systems, such as Dynamics technology can make a difference between a successful transition to remote work and a complete failure.

Zero Trust in the Protection of Your Data Assets

Cybercrime Magazine predicts the global cost of cybercrime will exceed £4.4 trillion per year by the end of 2021. If leaders want to protect their companies, it is imperative to act now.

The colossal shift to working from home in 2020 exposed major flaws in existing security set ups, which led to an increase in cybercrime. Data volumes have grown massively, and cloud solutions allow users to access this data from anywhere.

2021 will see an uplift in business leaders realising the importance of protecting their data, just as they would protect any other asset.

To do so companies must adopt a ‘Zero Trust’ approach to security which is based on the principle: “never trust, always verify”. This approach enhances protection within the cloud, where access is managed based on a continuous verification of identity and devices, rather than a perimeter-based password login security system.

The 5G Era

The fifth generation (5G) of communication systems is more than a generational step. It represents a fundamental transformation of the role that wireless technology plays in society.

In the past year, we’ve seen 5G roll out in the USA and Asia, as well as some parts of the UK.

5G is expected to change the way people live and work, promising 10x more responsive networks at faster speeds and offering a greater bandwidth to handle more connected devices.

Unfortunately, this may not be a reality for the UK. Significant investment is needed for 5G to work to its full potential and the UK has a track record of not investing enough in mobile coverage.

Planning rules and restrictions such as how high a mast can be and where it can be built, make life difficult for operators and the companies they pay to manage their network. Another limitation is the type of frequency band within the spectrum the operators have, and how they use it.

Commenting on the announcement of 5G rollout back in 2016, Andrew Adonis (former chair of the NIC) said “none of this will matter unless we bring our mobile network up to speed”. Whilst steps have been taken to improve, that same message rings true today.

Supply Chain AI

In 2021, we expect to see huge demand and rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and industrial automation technology.

As manufacturing and supply chains are returning to full operation, manpower shortages could become a serious issue if the spread of Covid-19 continues. Automation, with the help of AI, robotics and the internet of things, will be a key alternative to operate manufacturing.

This will also lead to the adaptation and digitalisation of supply chains and business operations. Future-focused sectors, such as Manufacturers, Retailers, Distributors are exploring ways to transform the supply chain into a customer-focused driver of value, particularly through embedding AI and automation. This will also transform physical supply chain interactions to be more effective, efficient and resilient.

Learning from those who adopted such technologies early and have since seen success, it is likely that throughout 2021 we will see businesses shift to integrating AI and automation. Although, previous trends suggest lack of understanding and trust in AI which played a key role in the slow rates of adoption.

Looking Ahead

Technology development in 2021 will be somewhat of a continuation of 2020, the year we saw 2 years’ worth of digital transformation in just 2 months.

Many of our new behaviours and habits will become part of the new normal in 2021, with companies more technologically reliant than ever before.

If one thing is for certain, it is that businesses cannot afford to be left behind in the ever-accelerating wave of digital transformation.