Tech trends 2021: Unprecedented challenges and opportunities

Posted by Vuong Nguyen, Managing Consultant

Topics: Technology, Featured

Despite being a year to forget for many, 2020 will also be remembered as the year that accelerated the worldwide population towards technology. From home-working to the broader adoption of digital services, such as online shopping and banking, technology has never underpinned society to the same extent that it does today. As a company, we believe that the increased acceptance, trust, and appetite for technology will be the impetus for the next round of emerging trends that are set to transform the digital landscape once again.

In this blog, we discuss the top ten technology trends that we believe will begin to emerge in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Workload portability through multi-cloud

    Gartner has reported that more than 80% of surveyed organisations using public cloud use more than one provider. A challenge faced by these types of organisations is having a truly multi-cloud strategy which allows workloads to be moved across providers. The maturity of cloud abstraction layers such as Terraform, Boundary, and Kubernetes will see this much-needed agility become a reality and 2021 will be the year when true multi-cloud becomes viable for many organisations.

  2. Confidential computing establishes momentum

    Data privacy continues to be a challenge, particularly when finding a balance between maximising insight from data whilst preserving confidentiality. Several developments in this field are beginning to reach maturity, including central processing unit (CPU) architectures that have bounded trusted environments for processing sensitive data; and homomorphic encryption which allows data to be processed without decryption. 2021 will be the year that confidential computing establishes momentum.

  3. Artificial Intelligence emerges in the Cloud and DevOps

    The power of cloud and the plethora of options available can make it difficult to determine how specific workloads should be deployed. Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a major role in monitoring workloads and dynamically applying optimisations, as well as administrating self-healing when issues begin to surface. In a similar way, AI is playing a key role in optimising the software development lifecycle, including bug / vulnerability detection and improved quality assurance. During 2021, the power of AI in supporting development and deployment of workloads will begin to materialise into the mainstream.

  4. Richer analytics enabled through the Data Mesh

    Organisations struggle with data that is siloed across diverse data sources, such as transactional databases, data warehouses, data lakes, and cloud storage. The data mesh architecture pattern is increasingly gathering momentum, where the ownership of interoperable and discoverable domain data is distributed across business units and made available via self-serve. In 2021, data technologies supporting mesh patterns will start to mature in the same way that Kubernetes pushed microservices into the limelight.

  5. Ethical management of data and AI

    Public concerns around the increasing demand for data and the use of AI are increasing. Organisations need to apply data ethics when collecting, using, and sharing data, whilst preventing and mitigating the errors that AI can introduce. The emergence of responsible AI and ethical usage of data, where organisations align their data handling practices to their core ethical values, will begin to address these concerns in the new year.

  6. Unified analytics as a single interface for data across multiple clouds

    IDC predicts that the world's data size will be 175ZB by 2025. Organisations will require technology solutions that can provide business insights from a single pane of glass across multiple data silos. The separation of compute and storage provided by analytics solutions such as Snowflake, BigQuery Omni, and Databricks will make multi-cloud analytics a reality.

  7. The emergence of data stories to reveal the hidden opportunities in data

    Dashboards only report what is happening, and the reliance is typically on the user to interpret this to actionable insight. Given the volume of data and the frequency of change, there is a need to be able to quickly understand data to drive organisational responsiveness. Data stories provide narrative insights through combining AI, machine learning, and visualisation. In 2021, data story technology will begin to gather pace and allow organisations to discover richer insight.

  8. Increased business resilience through digital twins

    Business resilience is a top priority for most organisations, and many are exploring the idea of creating a digital twin to drive continuous improvements. The concept has traditionally been used within manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare, but it is no longer limited to these areas. A digital twin of an organisation (DTO) is as a dynamic digital replica of all aspects of an organisation, providing a holistic view of business operations and organisation-wide insights whilst allowing simulation and parallel testing on new strategies and change. With such enticing promises, 2021 will see accelerated adoption of DTO technologies with increasingly sophisticated capabilities.

  9. The rise of productivity and collaboration apps

    COVID-19 has been a catalyst for the shift to remote working, which has required better tools to make this effective. Demand for integrated productivity suite has increased so that workforces can stay productive and collaborate in real-time. The momentum of Office 365, Google Workspace, and Slack will continue to skyrocket as organisations adapt to new ways of working. Further innovations including cloud-based virtual desktops (Desktop-as-a-Service) will accelerate this journey in 2021, allowing organisations to better support work-from-home initiatives.

  10. Broader acceptance of the Internet of Behaviours

    Gartner suggests that by 2023, 40% of the global population will be digitally tracked to influence our behaviours by combining data from both the digital and physical world. Building on the Internet of Things (IoT), this approach makes sense of data that comes from multiple sources. Internet of Behaviours (IoB) will be used in the retail sector to personalise marketing, with the potential to broaden to areas such as insurance and banking. Whilst the challenges of IoB are both technical and ethical, 2021 will see a gathering momentum of IoB that will begin to displace ethical reservations.

In a nutshell

We hope this blog offers inspiration for the year ahead. The road to tomorrow’s possibilities will be full of surprises, so dream big and design with ambition.

If you would like to discover more on any of the tech trends discussed in our blog post, please get in touch with one of our experts.

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