Tumultuous as 2021 may seem, the ongoing pandemic has done little to slow the evolution and emergence of new tech. Indeed, as the vaccine rollout continues at pace, confidence is returning to many industry sectors – with businesses keen to reinvigorate their operations with the adoption of future-fit technologies.
But of the applications currently proliferating high-tech industries, which are most likely to make waves in 2021? To find out, we’re taking a look at the new and emerging technologies to keep an eye on over the next 12 months.
Advanced Remote Working and Videoconferencing Software
The pandemic has thrust videoconferencing and remote working platforms into the realm of everyday tech. Now, millions rely on the likes of Zoom, Slack, Teams and Basecamp for their day-to-day work, prompting other software providers to get in on the act.
While you’d be forgiven for thinking that Zoom is all you need to work from home effectively, there’s more to remote working applications than videoconferencing. 2021 looks set to be the year of the collaboration tool, as companies like Bluescape, Figma and Tandem launch new platforms designed to make remote working even simpler.
Increase in 5G Network Development
The world has been waiting a long time for the arrival of 5G, but 2021 could be the year that sees major steps towards making next-gen mobile connectivity a reality. Yes, the latest round of smartphone releases touted 5G capabilities, but the limitations of the tech mean only a few users have seen its benefit.
But with a reported 380 operators investing in 5G enhancement, and some countries, such as Australia and China, racing ahead with expanding the tech; the next 12 months could see 5G networking grow across the UK and Ireland What does that mean for business? With millions reliant on mobile network devices, increased capacity could speed up processes and lead to greater efficiency.
Continued Advancements in AI Technology
Of all the emerging technologies to surface in recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated, particularly from a business sense. With early iterations of the tech showing huge promise in transforming workflows and processes, many businesses will be keen to see where AI goes next in 2021.
While many businesses have already started experimenting with AI, we’re yet to see a total proliferation of the technology. SMEs, in particular, have been slow to adopt AI capabilities, so developers hope that new iterations of the tech will be more feasible and accessible for all.
Quantum Computing Gains a Foothold
Quantum computing may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s among the emerging technologies drawing headlines in the first quarter of 2021. That’s because it’s been an invaluable tool in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, with scientists relying on the technology to manage, monitor and act on patterns in big data sets.
So, what exactly is quantum computing? And when should businesses expect it to become an adopted technology? The short answer is speed and processing power, with quantum computers able to crunch data in a fraction of the time of their standard counterparts. As for when businesses can expect to take up QC, that remains to be seen, but 2021 could prove a pivotal year in the evolution of the tech.
Internet of Things Continues to Grow
A couple of years ago, the Internet of Things (IoT) was a hot topic. But while it’s by no means gone away, the hype surrounding its emergence has certainly diminished, with the IoT revolution happening somewhat behind the scenes.
In 2021, however, it’s expected that the Internet of Things will once again come to the fore, as an increasing number of consumer and commercial devices get an IoT upgrade. Connected and communicating, these internet-enabled devices will continue to make waves in every sector, transforming day-to-day operations and rendering some manual processes, particularly in industries like manufacturing, obsolete.
Virtual Reality and Immersive Technologies
2021 looks set to be the year of VR and immersive technologies, with businesses in many sectors now actively investing in and experimenting with the tech. Why? With the population staying indoors, escapism is the order of the day – and no device offers a more authentic escape than VR.
From cinema chains to travel agents, estate agents to theme parks; VR has become a point of focus for many businesses, particularly those whose revenue is intrinsically linked to the ongoing lockdown. And as the technology continues to develop, we’ll likely see more businesses investing in VR – whether that’s building contractors, interior designers or non-profit organisations.
Innovations in the Driverless Car Sector
While the development of driverless cars has been slower than originally predicted, it hasn’t stopped big-name manufacturers from investing heavily in the technology. In fact, 2021 could prove the break-out year of autonomous vehicles, with huge investment from the likes of Honda, Ford and Mercedes-Benz highlighting that the technology has reached a key turning point in terms of its viability.
What impact might this have on businesses? For a start, it could signal the beginning of a commuter revolution, with personnel travelling to work not independently, but as part of a convoy of driverless vehicles. It could also mean big changes for logistics companies, with driverless freight and delivery vehicles replacing manned cars, vans and trucks.
The Rise of Robotic Process Automation
Like AI, robotic process automation (RPA) is another emerging technology with the potential to dramatically alter the workplace, automating jobs and processes alike. Some early-adopting businesses have already started using RPA to automate some internal processes, particularly data management, customer service and transaction processing.
While it isn’t expected that RPA will become commonplace in 2021, we can expect to see more businesses experimenting with the technology. For this reason, IT professionals are encouraged to get to grips with the tech, arming themselves with the knowledge and expertise to leverage the technology within their business function.
Historically, blockchain has been predominantly associated with cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin. But as more businesses experiment with the tech, its applications are expanding, to the point where it’s now considered an invaluable tool for secure data-backed decision-making.
Now, blockchain capabilities have been deployed in several industries, and the demand for blockchain developers is growing at a rapid pace. In 2021, the technology looks set to expand into different sectors, as more businesses seek the benefits of controlled and secure data management.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this speculative glance into the future of technology, and what 2021 could bring to businesses in a broad range of sectors. For more of the latest news, guides and features from the Intact team, click here for our blog. Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more about our future-fit ERP solutions, visit the homepage or contact our experienced team today.