2020 was a challenging year for everyone. As companies turn the page to a new year, they’re looking for ways to adapt to world changes and keep their businesses competitive.
To do this effectively, it’s important to know what business technology trends may be impacting networks, cloud services, and other areas of tech. Being prepared for what’s coming can help you have a year of forward motion instead of needing to play catch-up.
According to a survey of over 2,000 small businesses by Deloitte, 38% of small businesses directly correlate increased sales and revenue with effective use of technology.
The tech landscape in 2021 is going to be powered by a combination of adjustments due to COVID-19, innovations that have been in the works for a while, and reactions to emerging cybersecurity threats.
Read on to see what technology trends are expected in 2021 so you can be prepared to take advantage of them for forward momentum.
Cloud Efficiency Push
A majority of businesses are now using cloud processes. During the pandemic there was a second wave of cloud adoption frenzy as companies worked to quickly get tools into place to accommodate a remote workforce.
But the cloud adoption phase of the last five years or so has left many companies with new problems, including cloud waste, cloud security issues, and application redundancies.
Cloud waste has doubled year-over-year and the average business has 3.6 duplicate apps.
Cloud adoption is a buzzword that’s now in the rearview mirror and cloud efficiency is the new trend. This includes optimizing cloud use to streamline, reduce redundancies, and incorporate standardization across all SaaS tools.
IT security is entering the “X-Files” phase, which means to trust no one. With 2020 being one of the worst years on record for increased cybersecurity threats, plus new sophisticated forms of malware, the Zero Trust approach is becoming the norm.
The Zero Trust cybersecurity approach deviates from the standard “castle and moat” approach. That older strategy focused on keeping the bad guys outside the gate, but then trusted those already inside the castle.
On the other hand, Zero Trust strategies trust no one. This includes users and programs already granted access to a system.
This approach helps prevent new and ever more sophisticated cyber attacks by using strategies such as:
- Complex and layered multi-factor authentication policies (geo and privilege based)
- Application ring fencing
- Application whitelisting
- Single Sign-On (SSO) applications
- Endpoint security and monitoring applications
Consolidated Data/Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)
One of the new SaaS tools you’ll be hearing more about in 2021 are customer data platforms (CDPs). This is part of the cloud streamlining process and helps reduce problems when the same customer data has to be entered in different systems.
For example, you may have customer data used by an accounting system, a CRM program, and an email marketing program. It takes staff time to enter the same data into different apps, plus it increases the chance of errors.
One other negative is that some applications may not have visibility into all a customer’s data simply because the user didn’t enter it.
CDPs are centralized databases where all customer information is entered. Other applications then connect to this data to pull the appropriate fields. There is one version of a customer record, reducing errors, and all apps have the necessary visibility into all data your company has for a customer.
5G Hits Its Teens
“When is 5G finally going to make a difference?” This is a question we hear often, and it’s understandable. 5G has been promising to completely change how we connect to the internet, offering lightning-fast speeds with practically no latency.
But the infrastructure has taken a while to build out and make operational. Device manufacturers have also needed to get their devices up to speed. Apple only just brought out its first 5G-compatible iPhone, with the iPhone 12 launch in October of 2020.
You can expect to see some of that 5G promise start to materialize in 2021, as 5G begins growing up and hits the “teen years.” We may not yet see 200x faster internet speeds projected by some, but 5G networks will begin delivering noticeably faster speeds. There will also be more 5G compatible devices coming on the market.
Home Office Overtaking the Traditional Office
The move from traditional offices to remote teams began prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic accelerated the process and now the remote strategy is becoming the new norm.
In 2021, the number of permanent remote workers around the world is expected to double. This transition is going to change the way companies deploy assets, plan their technology infrastructures and networks, and interact with their customers.
This move also will help companies tighten their belts and lower costs without giving up productivity, because employees working at home have been proven to have higher productivity than in-office workers.
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