2021’s Top Emerging Tech Trends and Why You Need Them

December 16, 2020 Joe Shearer

The one constant in technology is change. Tech evolves so quickly that it feels like by the time you install the latest and greatest tech package, it feels as if it’s already obsolete, replaced by the next big thing.

But now all the rules are out the window. A digital awakening is taking place, and CIOs recognize that the tried-and-true strategies of yesterday will likely sputter today.

It’s also important to remember digital transformation isn’t about being on the cutting edge of the latest innovations. It’s about serving your customers as efficiently as you can, and “trends” only extend as far as being tools to help your business thrive.

Developing ethical artificial intelligence

The data companies collect is often sensitive and important to the people it belongs to, and handling it maliciously, carelessly, or with the intent of distributing it willy-nilly is problematic . AI gives companies a whole host of new freedoms and abilities, and many companies have gotten so excited over this tech tool, they haven’t stopped to consider the damage that data can do in the wrong hands, or when used for the wrong purposes. As a way of providing some guidance, Harvard Business Review outlines a seven-point plan for operationalizing AI ethics and data.

Today, consumers have a much more values-based approach to their data. Their expectations are shifting toward a more ethical way of handling it. No longer do we expect our email addresses, social security numbers, and other datapoints to be scattered across the Web, going to the highest bidders.

Companies are starting to catch up and are considering their technology’s ethical impact. The trends suggest that both consumers and businesses  will seek out partners who are committed to the ethical handling of data and ignore those who are not.

Revisiting and revamping automation roadmaps

If you’re not already automating processes, you’re behind quite a bit, especially as we enter the first full year of the pandemic. Automating the customer experience (while maintaining a personalized approach) should be standard procedure for most companies, but in the remote work environment, it’s time to push forward.

COVID-19 is altering automation agendas rapidly toward back-office processes and creating business resilience. Intelligent automation infuses robotic and digital automation processes with pragmatic AI and low-code tools that help businesses increase efficiencies and resilience while expanding operations.

This reduces disruptions, boosts fulfillment strategies within remote work environments, and enables increased flexibility in both front- and back-end operations. Reducing employee work wherever possible is your next step in becoming a fully streamlined company.

Creating hyperlocal business operations

As the online world continues to push us to a global business model, businesses are increasingly looking to rein things back by creating and cultivating a hyperlocal strategy. Businesses looking to break into a new market will employ existing local businesses to meet the on-demand needs of customers via a digital platform. A common example is for delivery services like DoorDash or GrubHub. Each of these businesses hire local drivers to pick up food at local restaurants, then make deliveries to their customers.

Large enterprises continue to tweak and hopefully perfect their hyperlocal operations, while regional midsize businesses are also growing and expanding to new geographies. Employing local shops gives them the ability to serve a new community under their existing banner without a lot of the infrastructure required by traditional growth models.

But a hyperlocal strategy still will allow organizations to design architectures that can expand customer engagement and business operations to new geos while keeping centralized technology management benefits. This will allow penetration into those new hyperlocal markets without much of the overhead necessary in days gone by, and will promote growth of the individual company as well as the community it’s entering.

Innovating with cloud-native tech

Certainly, one of the key developments of the next five years is emerging cloud-native technologies and the new innovations that will come along with them. Coming from open source and incubated in public clouds, cloud-native tech drives innovation quickly, and in more locations than in the public cloud.

Cloud-native tech will usher in a new era of distributed enterprise software from cloud providers, edge providers, and software vendors.

  • Serverless computing will further unleash the capabilities of cloud computing by using infrastructure to meet security, reliability, and scalability requirements.
  • Container-based cloud-native tech will become more widely used and accepted by users, making it the basic cloud user interface.
  • Virtualization will accelerate enterprise cloud migration and containerization.

All of these will expand the capabilities of the technology significantly and lead to greater adoption.

Edge computing using cloud-based strategies

New edge computing breakthroughs in the past year have broadened the appeal of edge computing, pulling it out of its historical attachment to the Internet of Things. Innovations like next-generation communications, cloud-native technologies, and new edge computing architectures have created new frameworks in which edge computing has proven useful.

This trend will continue over the next several years as firms shift their cloud strategies to include edge services on a larger scale, creating a viable alternative to public cloud vendors. The emergence of 5G and the Internet of Everything will lead to a greater number of connected smart terminals, and cloud computing capabilities will shift away from traditional cloud computing centers to edge nodes and terminals.

This article from Alibaba Cloud discusses how these new developments have shifted the scope of edge computing, allowing it to grow in the expanded 5G era while maintaining security, autonomy, and flexibility to handle the increase in demand.

Interested in learning more about 2021 technology trends? Drop us a line today.

About the Author

Joe Shearer

Joe is a Content Writer at Appirio. A 20-year veteran of the writing and editing game, he has produced high-performing content for a variety of brands.

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