Top IT Trends and Predictions 2021
While there is no magic crystal ball to predict all that will happen in IT and tech in 2021, we do have something close: data.
Explore with us some of our data-driven IT and tech predictions and trends for 2021, and let us know what you think 2021 has in store.
AI and ML
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are everywhere, and have become invaluable to virtually every piece of recent tech, from AI in cybersecurity to ML in medical diagnosis. According to a report, the ML market is expected to go from $1.41 billion in 2017, to $8.81 billion in 2022, with a CAGR of 44.1%.
With the events that rattled 2020, AI and ML will be transformed, both in terms of future developments and past pitfalls.
AI Talent Shortage
In 2021, the worldwide AI software market is predicted to grow 54%. Careers in AI and Machine learning are projected to grow 71% in the next 5 years.
However, AI industries may face a talent shortage. In a survey of large, global organizations, 82% reported having a lack of ML related skills. It is likely that jobs in the AI field will be in high demand in 2021.
Expanding Applications in Healthcare
Some of the biggest expansions of AI and ML will likely be in the healthcare industry. By 2023, the market for AI and ML in healthcare is expected to grow an extra $12.22 billion.
In 2020, Machine Learning was already used to help diagnose COVID-19 patients. In 2021, it will continue to be an integral part of helping healthcare providers combat, treat, and manage the pandemic, as well as other diseases and conditions.
Addressing Machine Learning Pitfalls
Building sustainable Language Models is becoming a growing problem. A recent study of 23,679 AI-generated texts has found that AIs can exhibit social biases.
Because AI is used in countless services, such as hiring, content moderation, or chatbots, addressing data building practices will be a challenge for AI and ML in 2021.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is involved in so much of the world today, it would be easier to name where it is not applied. The IoT is predicted to permeate into even more of our lives in 2021, from healthcare to homes to retail. Global spending on IoT is set to exceed $1.1 trillion by 2023.
Trends from 2020 have heavily shaped technological developments going forward in 2021. With the need for new developments in healthcare, stores having to adapt to new consumer climates, and people increasingly working from home, the IoT will only continue to adapt to changing conditions, and even thrive under these pressures.
By 2024, the number of 5G subscriptions is expected to go up to 1.9 billion globally. From 2021-2027, the CAGR of the 5G services market is expected to be 43.9%.
5G is expected to grow considerably in 2021 and onwards, most notably changing how we will use IoT devices.
5G will not only impact consumers, but industries as well. Industry applications of IoT devices will only increase, as internet connections will become faster and more stable.
5G connectivity will likely emerge in multiple markets, especially healthcare. It is also expected to find growing applications in digital public works, autonomous vehicles, and even remote machine operation.
The pandemic has increasingly driven healthcare services to seek digital solutions. Globally, the IoT in healthcare market size is set to have a CAGR of 25.6% from 2019 to 2027.
Even before the pandemic, the projected global size of IoT in healthcare was forecast to increase from $24 billion in 2016 to 135 billion by 2025.
With the increasing need to monitor patients remotely and find digital healthcare solutions, such as virtual visits or telehealth, IoT in healthcare will make huge strides in 2021.
Devices such as smartwatches are already used for a variety of medical monitoring purposes, and as their accuracy and uses grow, so will their applications in healthcare.
Smart Homes and Smart Home Offices
Global consumer spending on smart home systems is set to reach $157 billion by 2023. Smart homes have only become increasingly popular among consumers, with houses connected to speakers, security systems, intelligent lighting control, and more.
Smart home security is likely to grow in 2021. Statista predicts that the number of households with smart home security is to jump from 221 million to 258 million in 2021.
And while Google and Amazon offer many home security options that integrate with their smart speaker products, other smaller companies are also dealing their hand in the home security business.
As demand for easy, smart solutions will grow, they will likely become more affordable and more widespread to the average household.
Furthermore, devices that help improve the work-from-home experience will likely also continue to see strong sales. Along with remote work tools like webcams and microphones, consumers will look for additional smart home devices that can help them balance their jobs and household duties, such as childcare, elder care, or grocery shopping.
Internet of Behaviors
New year, new buzzwords. Gartner has discussed a new and possibly alarming concept in light of 2021: the “Internet of Behaviors”—in other words, technology’s ability to influence people’s behavior.
This could be beneficial, such as helping users go to bed on time, develop better spending habits, or better monitor chronic health conditions. But its uses bring a number of moral and ethical implications. Gartner asks, what if health insurance companies could track people’s grocery store purchases, and drive up their premiums based on unhealthy purchasing habits?
And indeed, concern need not stop there. While the idea of technology influencing people’s behaviors is alarming enough, the profit-driven companies behind these technologies will also likely take part in influencing consumer behavior. Is 2021 entering a world where the line between autonomous and technology-driven consumer behaviors are blurred?
While the term “Internet of Behaviors” is relatively new, it is not something to dismiss. As IoT devices grow in complexity, and ubiquitous computing continually creeps into people’s lives, 2021 will likely also see many discussions about the ethical and moral implications of influencing people’s behavior through technology.
Cybersecurity will be a growing concern in 2021. This includes the use of IoT devices for sensitive data such as banking or making purchases, but also concerns surrounding the remote workforce. Some of the largest concerns for companies in 2021 will likely be data breaches and Ransomware attacks.
Data breaches can cost a business not only millions of dollars, but also their reputation and customer trust. According to a report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach has gone up 10% since 2014. The country with the highest average cost from a data breach was the US, at $8.64 million. In this report, 52% of data breaches were caused by malicious attacks.
2020 was a host to numerous, very prominent data breaches, where sensitive user and consumer data was leaked.
In the digital age, data breaches will become a growing issue, and companies will need to take measures to combat them, especially from malicious attacks and user error. Not only will companies have to take extra care to educate their workforce on good cybersecurity practices, but they will also need to establish clear protocols in the sometimes inevitable event of a data breach.
Ransomware attacks are reported to increase in 2021, with 2020 already seeing a 900% uptick. The average cost of a ransomware attack in 2020 was $4.4 million, costing more than the average malicious attack. Furthermore, at least 10% of cybersecurity insurance claims stemmed from the costs of ransomware attacks.
The prevalence of ransomware and similar attacks will only be exacerbated by a growing remote workforce, working from insecure environments and devices. In a survey from 2020, the number one cause of ransomware attacks was Spam/Phishing emails, and the next largest cause was poor user practices.
It will be more important than ever for users to be educated on good cybersecurity practices, and understand how to identify malicious emails and links.
Cloud operations have become an integral part of business processes across virtually every industry. But as cybersecurity concerns rise over time, hybrid models will likely become the norm. Market Watch predicts the hybrid cloud model will rise to $173.33 billion by 2025.
For most companies and enterprises, it is better not to have all your clouds in one basket. Because of this, hybrid cloud, the combination of private and public cloud services, will be the defining model for cloud operations in 2021.
Some predict that not only will companies look more towards hybrid models, but cloud services will move more towards providing hybrid models as opposed to solely private or public models.
Hybrid cloud services are reported to have a CAGR of 18.73% from 2021-2026. The clear favorability over standard cloud models will likely only grow, as companies and individuals will value security and scalability over having a private cloud.
But these evolving cloud models will likely bring new technical and logistical hurdles that companies will have to confront before they can properly harness the power of hybrid cloud.
With the clear and continual rise of IoT devices, and their increasing complexity, edge-computing will grow in importance.
Edge-computing will likely enhance existing cloud strategies, and even overshadow public clouds in growth. The growth of public clouds has already declined from 42% in 2018, to a predicted 24% in 2022.
Leveraging local or co-op datacenters will become more popular, as opposed to far-away, large-scale operations.
With its superior data management capabilities and better speed, edge-computing will become a more integral part of the IoT experience, as well as cloud computing.
As of 2019, Digital Transformation was already the number one priority of IT initiatives worldwide. Spending on Digital Transformation is set to reach $2.3 trillion globally by 2023.
Digital Transformation post-2020 will be no joke. It will fundamentally alter the way we build, manage, and grow businesses in the future. With the clear and increasing needs of integrated digital models in companies, digital transformation will be the difference between successful and unsuccessful operations.
But as companies continue to transform, it will be more important than ever for business leaders to learn effective digital practices. Business leaders will have to start their digital transformation process from the top, by adapting their management tactics to better fit digital workspaces.
Research also suggests that digitally literate workers will increasingly look for management that values them as workers, rather than management that solely values their output.
Digital Transformation in 2021 will not just mean automation and remote work. It will mean transforming business from the inside out, from the top down, and fundamentally transforming business methodologies. It will take new demands from leadership, and it will bring new kinds of work and workers to the digital front.
Everyone can agree that 2020 experienced a remote work revolution. And with widespread employee satisfaction with remote and hybrid work models over traditional models, remote positions and digital workspaces will only continue to grow and adapt.
In a survey of over 3,000 adult professionals, 90% of respondents reported willingness to recommend remote work to a friend, and 86% of respondents agreed that remote work was the future.
Some studies have shown that remote work can increase employee productivity by 30%. Additionally, 75% of the research participants reported wanting to continue with a hybrid model in the future.
In a recent survey, nearly 1 in 4 US workers will be working remotely in 2021. While increased remote work does have its downsides, the American Psychological Association reports that well-directed telework can actually boost employee morale and overall well-being.
Remote work, or at least hybrid models, are here to stay (and host a number of benefits for many in the workforce). These work models will likely have a lasting impact on not only hiring, employment, and work, but also on how people manage their workforce and companies. While office work is likely not dead, many now have a different perspective.
2020 was a traumatic and transformative year. Its aftershocks will be felt throughout 2021, and likely, beyond that.
All aspects of the IT industry will be shaken to their core: workspaces will shift, employees will experience completely new work environments, and technology and ingenuity will continue climbing to amazing heights.
As workspaces shift, so will consumer experiences. Technology will take new roles in people’s everyday lives. But as people continue to incorporate technology in their everyday lives, new concerns will arise with privacy, security, and the ethical and moral implications of devices.
While predicting trends is often a practice in folly, we can be certain that 2021 will be a year of change, innovation, and new horizons.