The most significant hallmark of 2020 was disruption. As the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the entire world within its deadly claws, many among the C-suite community scrambled to reinvent their business models to realign themselves with the new reality. With the emergence of new technology trends, the past year has vehemently demonstrated how technology is the lifeblood for economies, organizations, governments, and communities, with buzzwords such as the Internet of Behaviors (IoB) drawing attention from industry leaders and become a part of everyday discourse.
Businesses continue to evolve in response to the crisis, exploring new ways to operate and sustain business continuity. In 2020, organizations that rapidly pivoted to weather the storm enforced by the new world order to rise like a phoenix from the ashes restored confidence among their employees, partners, and customers. The latest technology trends indicate that businesses will reach a new level of digital maturity through 2021.
However, many businesses that lacked the digital foundation were confronted with a digital performance gap that suddenly became pronounced overnight. Organizations with cloud capabilities had a clear advantage as they instantly shifted their global workforce to remote working, safeguarding their employees and retaining productivity to serve their clients and partners worldwide.
Now, moving ahead from the challenges posed by 2020, as we turn over a new page to move into 2021, newly accelerated Digital Transformation continues to open new avenues of growth, arming businesses with much-needed adaptability and resilience. Companies are no longer competing for just market share. The next battleground is delivering unmatched Customer Experience (CX).
We at Kellton intend to discuss the latest technology trends reverberating across industries and highlight the opportunities offered by technology for organizations to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Here’s Our Top 2021 Technology Trends
In the new world, transforming an organization into a technology leader cannot be confined to the CTO’s or CIO’s domain. In 2021, success will depend upon a business’s ability to accelerate and muster change across the entire business value chain, driven directly by the C-suite leadership’s technology decision-making prowess. The whole C-suite community must assume a pivotal role in fostering a digital-first approach manifested across the entire enterprise to succeed in the future.
Technology Trend 1:
Hyperautomation – “Everything that can be automated will be automated.”
The process businesses use to automate most of their IT processes by leveraging tools such as AI, machine learning, RPA, etc., is known as hyperautomation. Companies often get bogged down by organizational debt encompassing data, architecture, technical, security, talent, and social debt, which collectively affects the brand’s value proposition. The cause of organizational debt is redundant and costly business processes underpinned by technologies that are not optimized, connected, lean or consistent.
However, in the digital-first world, where acceleration is a prerequisite for survival, business leaders are striving hard to achieve operational excellence. COVID-19 further accelerated this, pushing organizations to explore more remote, digital-first options. The answer lies in hyperautomation, which can help organizations achieve operational excellence and resiliency. To embrace hyperautomation, organizations need to digitize their documents, automate processes, tasks, and orchestrate automation across all functional areas.
The drive to replace humans with machines is accelerating as organizations struggle to check the spread of COVID-19 through workplace infection while keeping the operational costs low. In the US alone, 40 million people lost their jobs at the pandemic’s peak, 42% of which have gone to machines. According to a recent research paper published by economists at Boston University and MIT, in the manufacturing sector alone, as many as 2 million robots could replace humans by 2025.
Technology Trend 2:
Distributed Cloud – “Run public cloud infrastructure at multiple locations.”
Distributed cloud is a public cloud computing service that allows companies to run public cloud infrastructure at multiple physical locations, including an organization’s cloud service provider’s infrastructure, on-premise, in data centers of other cloud providers, or third-party data centers managed centrally from a single control plane.
Distributed cloud allows businesses to deploy and run applications in a mix of cloud environments tailored to their requirements by optimizing performance and meeting regulatory compliances. Distributed cloud helps organizations address challenges and inconsistencies that are commonplace in hybrid or multi-cloud environments. Furthermore, distributed cloud serves as the ideal foundation for edge computing – running applications and servers closer to the data.
Technology Trend 3:
Digital Twins – “Building a mirrored world.”
A growing number of enterprises across industries today are building and deploying digital twins. Initially adopted for their ability to monitor, simulate, and streamline data across discrete devices, digital twins have grown in scale and scope with AI’s layering. Networks of intelligent twins of massive scale, linking multiple twins, help create living models of manufacturing facilities, supply chains, product lifecycles, ports, etc. The digital twin concept will soon be essential to every enterprise’s digital strategy, dawning an era of a mirrored world.
Organizations across scale and industries are unlocking new opportunities and innovative ways of doing business in the digital space by building and deploying intelligent twins. Digital twins are already helping bridge the digital divide by creating pathways for companies to gather, visualize, and contextualize data from across their physical assets. AI is the underlying technology that allows businesses to act on data, dynamically responding to real-time information.
Technology Trend 4:
Technology Stack – “Companies will compete on their architecture.”
The lines between business strategies and technology strategies continue to blur. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, organizations across the globe have accelerated their digital transformation journey. The spending on cloud in Q1 of 2020 nearly tripled from the previous year. Rapid digital transformation, coupled with the sudden influx of new technologies, has ushered an era where architecture matters the most. Soon businesses will compete with each other on building cutting-edge technology stacks.
For example, the tech stack of five popular billion-dollar companies, namely Netflix, Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, and Snapchat, is a classic example of how they have invested heavily in technology to solve the fundamental problems to become game-changers. What makes them the best brands in their niche is their technology stack. A recent trend growing in momentum is large organizations shifting from a single-vendor tech stack to multi-vendor or open-source tools for their tech stack needs.
Technology Trend 5:
Remote Workforce – “Bring your own environment and work anywhere, everywhere.”
The most significant workforce transformation in living memory happened in 2020 post the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and new work culture was born. Organizations took the drastic move of shifting their employees to work from home to sustain business continuity and keep them safe. However, the greatest business challenge was to scale the technology to keep the employees productive. Over a year has gone by since global workforces switched to working from home, and there is little hope of that changing anytime soon.
So, what does that mean? We have now moved beyond the concept of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) to Bring-Your-Own-Environment (BYOE), where employees bring their entire environment to work. The employees might be using their company’s laptop, but that laptop connects to a personal home network with smart speakers, cameras, gaming console, etc. Today’s employees are highly reliant on technology to meet the demands of their job. For example, NHS Digital – the national healthcare provider in the UK, partnered with Accenture and Microsoft to make Microsoft Teams available to 1,275,000 NHS employees, which the doctors use to conduct virtual appointments and collaborate with people at remote locations.
The onset of coronavirus has led to businesses exponentially shifting towards a gig economy. The traditional 9-5 working world has made way for white-collar employees pursuing gig work for permanent or additional income during these unprecedented times. Business leaders must plan and embrace this inevitable shift to a gig economy that will continue to grow post-pandemic.
Technology Vision 2021
As enterprises began to set ground rules in the post-pandemic world, technology took center stage. Businesses are discovering immense opportunity in building new ecosystems to improve operational efficiency. We have tried to create a systematic review of how these emerging technology trends will shape the enterprise landscape, impacting industries, organizations, government agencies, and communities not only in 2021 but way beyond in the coming few years.