Top emerging technology trends to watch in 2021

With technological progress and advances continually being made, 2021 is set to be an exciting year for new technologies and innovations. So, what are some of the biggest tech trends for the year ahead and what impact will they will have on industry?

The 5 main emerging technology trends to watch out for in 2021 include:

1. Internet of Behaviours

What is it? 

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of interconnected physical objects that collect and exchange information over the internet. To maximise the benefits of the IoT we need to go one step further and make sense of the data that we have gathered, attaching it to specific human behaviours. This is achieved by the Internet of Behaviours (IoB). IoB is essentially a combination of technology, data analytics and behavioural science.

What are the benefits? 

Devices such as smartphones can track both a user’s online movements and their real-life geographical location. With relative ease a company can link a smartphone with your laptop, your home assistant, your home CCTV and your cell phone records, creating a detailed picture of who you are. Through this information companies can understand your likes, your dislikes, your purchasing habits and even the way that you vote.

The IoB can truly enhance marketing and sales within a business by providing detailed and personalised insight about consumers. Whilst analytics and A/B testing are used extensively by companies to map the user journey, the IoB can take this one step further by providing more than simply past performance insight but also information about likely future behaviour.

Which industries will it affect?

The IoB is an extension of the IoT and so as the Internet of Things grows, it is inevitable that the Internet of Behaviours will grow with it. By 2023 Gartner estimates that 40% of the global population will be tracked digitally so that our behaviour can be influenced. This technology will be used extensively across most industries as IoT continues to increase in popularity. It’s inevitable that sales and marketing teams will want to leverage the benefits of this technology to gain and even greater insight and understanding of their customers.

2. Hyperautomation

What is it?

A means for real digital transformation, hyperautomation enables automation for almost any repetitive task. The combination of robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) enables the automation of complex business processes.

What are the benefits? 

The benefits of hyperautomation are extensive including;

  • Increased flexibility– by using a combination of automation technologies, organisations can leverage the benefits of each of these technologies. This enables businesses to achieve scale and flexibility that isn’t possible with the use of a single digital technology. 
  • Improved employee productivity– as time consuming and repetitive tasks can be carried out with automation, employees are able to dedicate their efforts to more valuable tasks.
  • Increased integration– hyperautomation enables organisations to integrate digital technologies across their processes. This makes communication seamless and provide greater access.
  • Improved ROI– using powerful analytical tools, businesses can optimise the deployment of their resources to boost revenue and reduce costs.

Which industries will it affect?

By creating a digital twin of an organisation, hyperautomation is not simply an opportunity to be considered by businesses but one that is an inevitable solution for business challenges in the future. Hyperautomation is already enhancing manufacturing, construction and transportation industries where the use of robotics and advanced automation is deployed in assembly lines, improving operations, reducing error and undertaking the most repetitive tasks. With time, this technology trend will be used in all industries. We are already seeing advances in the medical sector with robots performing surgery and undertaking repetitive tasks and in the banking sector where loans and mortgage processing are automated to create a centralised data network and to help consumers. This trend is one that will only continue to grow across all industries.

3. Anywhere operations

What is it?

Anywhere operations is a business model that enables employers, customers and business partners to access and share data and processes outside of a corporate network. It provides a reliable and secure access to documentation regardless of location. This model is created using technologies such as XR tools, analytics, cloud and edge infrastructure, secure remote access and automation.

What are the benefits? 

Anywhere operations improves collaboration between employers and customers. In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, business have had to pivot operations, enabling employees to work from home and facilitating a work environment that is possible from any location. This trend is here to stay and so the need for businesses to embrace anywhere operations will be paramount throughout 2021. By digitalising business processes now, companies can be confident that operations can run smoothly in the event of further restrictions.

Without the backdrop of the pandemic, anywhere operations affords employees greater working freedom, enables global around-the-clock support for clients and increases the availability of business services.

Which industries will it affect?

The vast majority of industries are already seeing the benefits of anywhere operations and, due to the pandemic, are improving technologies and security for this purpose. Even in sectors where workers cannot work from home such as in education, healthcare and construction, this technology trend can still be of benefit to specific tasks within their roles. Whilst these industries will return to their usual working environments after the pandemic, the benefits gained from teaching online and telemedicine may continue to enhance their work in 2021 and beyond.

4. Zero trust

What is it?

Zero trust is a security concept that requires all users, both those inside and outside an organisation to be authenticated, authorised and validated on a network prior to being granted access. To achieve this higher level of security, technologies such as multifactor authentication, identity and access management and next-generation endpoint security are all used.

What are the benefits? 

Zero trust allows for a more flexible and agile way of working. Successful implementation of zero trust is necessary to ensure effective security that makes many of the technology trends discussed above possible.

It also enables businesses to contextualise users and assets that are trying to gain access to a database which is important for both remote workers and complex IT environments that support unmanaged devices on the IoT.

Now that people are working at home there are different threats in that environment. So zero trust is even more critical in today’s world, where people are removed from the office and may be so for some time to come.

Reiner Kappenberger, Director of Product Management for data security at Micro Focus

Which industries will it affect?

Zero trust and the security benefits that it affords will be essential for all industries moving forward. Sectors or companies that neglect to implement such a stringent approach to security will likely face the consequences of this as technology and security risks advance. As implementing such a system takes time, resources and money, the process is a time consuming one. However, many industries are already embracing this trend, particularly those that deal with large amounts of sensitive data such as in finance, healthcare and manufacturing.

5. AI engineering

What is it?

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has been and, will continue to be, a huge technology trend for the future. However, difficulties with maintenance, scalability and governance pose an obstacle for the implementation of AI in different organisations. AI engineering provides a pathway that incorporates AI into mainstream DevOps rather than as a separate project altogether.

What are the benefits? 

AI engineering offers a solution to the challenges associated with AI, enabling more organisations to use AI technologies with greater ease. As multiple AI techniques exist, navigating this complex technology can be tricky but with AI engineering a clearer path is created. AI engineering also offers greater governance ensuring greater transparency, compliance and ethics in AI. This is a trend that is increasing in importance as more consumers and businesses seek to partner with companies whose values echo their own.

Which industries will it affect?

AI engineering will affect all industries as different organisations increasingly turn to AI to enhance their operations. According to Gartner only 53% of AI projects are successfully completed from prototype through to production. However, with advances in AI engineering, this success rate will increase as performance and scalability issues are overcome.

Many of the new tech trends and advances expected in 2021 will be a continuation of progress made in 2020. The influence of Covid-19 is accelerating technology trends so that many of the new behaviours that we have developed as a result of the pandemic will become the new normal for 2021, driving technological innovation.

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