Everyone is aware that we are in the fourth industrial revolution, and that means many improvements for the entire humankind. Naturally, among the most important trends are digital ones, and we can feel their impact on our everyday lives. But do you ever wonder what types of emerging technology will mark this year, and what is waiting for us in the future? Let’s look at some upcoming trends for 2021.
Technology trends in 2021
The first technology trend for 2021 is the edge computing. In the past couple of years, there has been a lot of talk about edge computing and all the benefits that come with it. It is estimated that the Edge Cloud Service market will grow at least fifty percent in 2027. Furthermore, revenue will leap from $2.8 billion (which is just for the last year), up to $6.7 billion in the next two years.
But what exactly is Edge computing, and why have all IT companies gone crazy for it? The answer is simple. Edge computing serves to increase the efficiency, performance, and safety of industrial or enterprise-level businesses. The original idea behind it was to bring the computer closer to the source of data. As a result, it minimizes the need for long-distance communication and lowers latency and bandwidth usage. It is a part of distributed cloud computing.
While Edge is not a new concept, companies have just recently started realizing how useful it can be. Namely, to make it all possible, businesses use a distributed computing model while the computing takes place close to a physical location where all data is being analyzed and stored. However, even today, there are centralized cloud systems companies are using, which slows the process and performance.
But probably the primary reason why Edge computing is gaining such popularity is that it creates many new opportunities to maximize efficiency, automate business processes, and ensure that the company is available at all times.
However, the Edge does not intend to replace the Cloud. In fact, it will work hand in hand with it. Indeed, many of the technologies on this list need high performance with lower latency, which is nearly impossible without the Edge.
Automation and Hyper-Automation
Now, almost everyone understands automation is not really something new or exciting. People have been trying to find a way to automate production since the dawn of humankind. The most obvious example is the automotive industry, where almost every part of the car is manufactured on the assembly line. Ideally, humans will only do the quality control and final check to make sure everything went according to plan.
But here, we will talk about a different type of automation. Instead of focusing on robots, we will talk about automation done on computers. There are two main types of automation — test automation and RPA or Robotic Process Automation.
The benefits of automation are quite clear. Firstly, the company will be significantly more efficient, and computers can finish each process faster and with more accuracy. As a result, the business will experience higher productivity but with even lower costs and risks.
Moreover, automation is especially important now in times of pandemic. After all, it can allow businesses to operate while reducing health risks for their workers. It is more than obvious that investing in technology is always a good idea and a step forward.
Hyper-automation, on the other hand, involves advanced technologies like machine learning or AI. It does the same thing as “regular” automation, but on a more serious level. Naturally, hyper-automation requires sophisticated software and tech. In short, it is an ecosystem of technologies, platforms, and systems. Therefore, many agree that hyper-automation is the future of digital transformation, and it is high on the list of technology trend for 2021.
Extended reality is an umbrella term used to describe three things — AR, MR, and VR. So, let us start from the beginning.
VR, or Virtual Reality, is something you have probably heard of already. It is a computer-generated world that you can experience in a variety of ways. For example, there are video games made in VR. Using a VR headset, you can “travel” to a different world and interact with it as if you were there. VR can be nearly anything. The simplest example would be a virtual living room where you can “walk” around and interact with virtual objects.
While VR allows you to visit fantasy worlds and interact with non-existent objects, AR can offer something a bit more realistic. AR stands for augmented reality, and it lets you experience our own world differently. With AR, you will still be in your living room, but you will be able to change the color of your carpets, the texture of the walls, etc. You can also use AR glasses to read emails or news. In short, augmented reality lets you experience the world you see every day in a new way.
Finally, there is an MR, which is a combination of both. It stands for mixed reality, and it gives you an opportunity to interact with virtual objects in the real world. For example, you can get a virtual ball and throw it in a real basket.
Of course, all of this sounds quite fun, but there are many ways to improve our lives using extended reality. AR and MR can help you learn better with “real” examples. VR is great for training and practice but without consequences. Just imagine a firefighter test but in VR. A person can experience it all without any risk. The possibilities are endless.
Stories about AI are another timeless classic. One of the earliest examples was Talos in Greek mythology. It was made of bronze and served to protect Europa and Crete from invaders. People always loved the idea of creating AI that can help us and make our lives easier.
But what exactly is artificial or machine intelligence?
It is intelligence that can be manifested by machines. Unlike humans and animals, computers are unable to think, and they do the process we tell them to do.
The idea is to create a device that can perceive its environment and take action to improve its chances of completing its task. Good AI can successfully mimic cognitive functions and learn. In science fiction, those machines are often androids. They often have a humanoid form and are capable of problem-solving.
But the reality is a bit behind, and while AI is a thing, it is not nearly as sophisticated as depicted in fiction. In the past couple of years, AI has been among the biggest trends in technology. There have also been significant improvements in the field.
There is no doubt that AI is among the most exciting technology trend for 2021, and it seems that the trend will continue in the future as well. You don’t need to look farther than Tesla and their self-driving cars. You can give your vehicle a phone call, and it will reach your destination without any problems. The very idea seemed like a dream a couple of years ago, and it’s evident that some impressive innovations are waiting for us in the future.
An intelligent interface is a combination of previous entries that is becoming rather popular. That is why it has a special place on our list. When you combine AI, Edge computing, the Internet of Things, extended reality, and robotics, you get an intelligent interface. Or at least, that’s one of many possibilities.
With each of these technologies growing and improving individually, it allows us to have virtual assistants and voice-activated devices. You can easily communicate with both the real and digital world hands-free. Early innovations were virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Probably the most famous representation of intelligent user interface was Clippy assistant in Microsoft Word.
One of the fascinating aspects of intelligent interfaces is how they communicate and learn more about the user. They can collect data about our habits and behavior. That way, they successfully predict what we as users desire. All they need to do is tailor services and information according to our needs.
There will undoubtedly be even more improvements in this field in the next couple of years. That includes facial and emotion recognition, eye tracking, and many other things.
Blockchain and DLT
No one dreamed of the impact BitCoin would have in 2008. It all seemed like a fairy tale without any chance of success. But today, blockchain is something more and more companies are willing to explore and see all the possibilities it brings.
As you probably know, BitCoin and other altcoins work on blockchains, and it is just one type of DLT or distributed ledger technology. Blockchain uses independent nodes or computers to share, record, and synchronize all data (and transactions) in electronic ledgers. The original idea behind it was decentralization. Traditional ledgers are centralized and non-transparent.
DLT can fundamentally change how the financial sector works by making it more secure, reliable, and efficient. Naturally, many companies are reluctant to partake in something as new as DLT, and they are missing out on a unique opportunity. Instead of waiting for a perfect DLT to “appear,” there are others who are willing to help shape it.
Furthermore, finance is not the only area where you can use DLT. More and more companies are starting to understand the potential behind it. A distributed ledger can help both companies and users by adding transparency to their operations, improving traceability, lowering costs, improving performance, and ensuring security and trust between individuals.
Apps aren’t something that was invented yesterday, and everyone is well aware of their existence. But it seems that now, more than ever, is their time to shine. Today, almost everyone has a smartphone, and it is nearly impossible to imagine life without it. At the beginning of the last decade, mobile phones were rather new, and they were used for calls and messages (do you remember SMS services?).
But today, each of us carries a small computer in our pockets that can help us with nearly anything. It is a generally accepted fact that if you need something, there is an app for it. More and more companies are beginning to understand the need to focus on mobile development and all the benefits that come with it. Casual users worldwide are starting to see PCs as obsolete unless it is for gaming or some advanced editing or design work.
If you don’t need a PC for high-quality rendering or playing Cyberpunk 2077, you might not need one at all. Your phone can do all of it. And the best thing is the development of Edge computing and 5G.
Developers have always faced hardware limitations. But today, phones are so advanced that they can design incredible apps. They are no longer limited by internal or RAM memory, and in the future, apps will be one of the biggest technology trend for 2021.
If you don’t have a website, you might as well retire. There aren’t many people in the world that will take a company seriously if they don’t have a solid online presence. As we previously mentioned, smartphones and the internet are an integral part of our lives, and the best way to find something you need. That is why e-commerce is among the biggest trends in the world.
Electronic commerce is a way of buying and selling products using the internet. Naturally, there are many different types of e-commerce, like online stores, B2B buying and selling, marketplaces, etc.
The importance of e-commerce is more than evident today. The entire world is facing a crisis due to a pandemic, and many cities and countries are dealing with curfews and lockdowns. And that is when e-commerce shines. Instead of going out to the store and risking your health, you can buy things online. It is easier, safer, and convenient.
Even though electronic commerce is not a novelty, there is no doubt that many businesses will keep their focus on this trend, and for a good reason. Many people across the world nicknamed this trend “retail apocalypse,” and it’s obvious where the future is.
Why would you waste time on something that’s undoubtedly becoming obsolete when you can invest in a safe and profitable option?
It seems only reasonable that cybersecurity is among the major trends in the world. Many businesses are switching to a more internet-based style of work, and it is essential to protect your company and prevent cyber-attacks.
Many companies have been victims of cyber-attacks due to inadequate security, and with the improvement in technology, the attacks will become even more vicious. That is why many businesses are investing in a way to protect their products and information. But, smart devices are spreading so fast that it’s nearly impossible to secure everything.
Today, we have smartwatches, trackers, security cameras, and even refrigerators with internet access. That’s why keeping cybersecurity on top of the priorities list is the smartest thing to do.
Business Continuity Planning
Business continuity planning is a process of designing systems that will prevent potential threats to your company. Furthermore, it also covers recovery in worst-case scenarios. While BCP also covers natural disasters, in the future, it will focus more on cybersecurity.
While we already mentioned cybersecurity, BCP is so much more. It protects both assets and personnel, and it should be rigorously tested to eliminate the possibility of weakness. In essence, BCP is a back-up plan, and why investing in something like this pays off is now more than obvious.
Many companies are facing problems today due to the global COVID pandemic, and BCP can be a difference between having a company in the future and bankruptcy.
Staying in touch with the newest technology trends is vital for businesses, and it is the only way to stay relevant in a highly-competitive market. With technology improving by the day, the internet is more important than ever. Today, we have 5G, social media, smartphones, advanced AI, autonomous vehicles, and many other exciting things.
Are you going to focus on the blockchain? Invest in cybersecurity? Or develop a new app? The choices are limitless. With so many different possibilities, it is essential to keep track of new inventions and improvements that can help you and your company.
So many things happened during the last year, and it is obvious that the fourth industrial revolution has begun. The smartest thing you can do is think long term. Focus on the things that matter and the things that will remain relevant in the years to come.