These are the 5 biggest technology trends in 2021 that everyone must be prepared for now

Although it may seem odd to make predictions about 2021 when there is no way to know how 2020 will play out, it’s not impossible to predict the future. While no one could have predicted the events that would change the world, it is obvious that tech has been as affected as any other area of our lives.

One thing is certain: Today’s most important tech trends are going to play an important role in our ability to adapt and cope with the many challenges we face. Tech trends will drive the management of the changes, from the shift to working remotely to the new rules for how we interact with each other in public places.

Covid-19 can be seen as a catalyst to many of the changes already in place, due to our digital and online lives. With necessity (long recognized as the mother of invention), things will happen faster now. If Covid-19, as some US presidents predicted, “magically disappears”, the changes it brought about won’t. We will have learned to do many things more efficiently and safer.

Here is my summary of the main tech trends that I identified in my book Trends in Practice are likely to unfold over the next year. While some will help us recover our “normality”, others will help us understand and navigate the new reality.


1. Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI remains undoubtedly one the most important tech trends of the moment. In 2021, it will be an even more valuable tool to help us understand and interpret the world around. We will continue to collect more data about healthcare and infection rates as well as the effectiveness of the measures we take to prevent spread of disease. Machine learning algorithms will be more sophisticated and informed in their solutions.

Self-learning algorithms can detect connections and insights that are not easily detected by human analysis. These will allow us to predict the demand for healthcare services and enable administrators to make better decisions about where and when to allocate resources.

The challenge for businesses will be to understand the changing patterns customer behavior. Online activity will increase, from socializing and shopping to online working environments, meetings and recruitment. The tools that we use to analyze behavioral shifts will become more sophisticated in 2021 and better fit the infrastructure and budget requirements of increasing numbers of organizations.


2. Robotics and Drones as well as Vehicle Automation

Initiatives for self-driving cars will grow in popularity as the number of people using public transport fluctuates depending on their location. Service providers and civic authorities will have to prioritize efficiency in public transport networks. This will allow them to balance uncertainty around customer demand by reducing labor costs.

Robots have become more common in the assisted living and care sectors. This is especially true for elderly and vulnerable members of society. Robotic devices will not replace the human interaction that caregivers provide, but they can be used to create new channels of communication. They can be used to access 24/7 in-home assistance, or to provide companionship for those times when it is unsafe to send nursing staff to homes. Companies will also turn to robotics providers for maintenance and cleaning services, even if their premises are empty. This has already resulted in skyrocketing stock prices among companies involved in the supply of robots.

Drones will be used for vital medicine delivery and, when equipped with computer vision algorithms to detect areas at risk of transmission, to monitor footfall in public areas.


3. The As-A-Service Revolution

“As-a service” is the provision of services we use to live and work via cloud-based, on demand platforms. This key has enabled us all to access the other tech trends that we discuss today. This is why AI and robotics can be a viable option for any business, no matter their budget or size. Cloud offerings by companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and a growing number of spinoffs allow innovators from all industries to deploy cutting-edge technology with minimal upfront investment in equipment, tools or people.

We have seen the rise of cloud-based solutions as-a service companies in the face of the continuing pandemic. Zoom is an example of this. It has quickly made a name for itself due to its speed in adding servers, increasing coverage, and improving the quality and quantity of its service. Its cloud-based nature and partnerships with its service providers allowed it to rapidly increase its capacity to meet demand. This will be an increasingly important feature in 2021 and beyond. It will also open up more opportunities for everyone.


4. 5G and improved connectivity

Not only is the internet faster and more reliable, but we also have less waiting time for Youtube videos to load. Every successive advancement in mobile connectivity, starting with 3G, has opened up new uses for the internet. 3G enabled web browsing and data-driven applications on mobile devices. 4G allowed for the growth of streaming video, music and other platforms as bandwidths increased. 5G will also open up new possibilities.

5G is the future of services that rely on advanced technologies like augmented reality or virtual reality (discussed further below), as well as cloud-based gaming platforms such as Google Stadia and NVidia’s GeForce Now. These are all viable options, available anywhere, at any time. They could also make fiber- and cable-based networks obsolete, as they no longer require us to be tied to one location.

The 5G network and other high-speed networks allow all the trends discussed here to be accessible anywhere at any time. Complex machine learning applications that rely on real-time access of Big Data can be carried out in the field via automation. Salmar, a Norwegian fishery operator, uses a 5G network to automate its care and feeding of its fish . Image recognition algorithms detect when fish are hungry or thirsty and provide the necessary medication and food to maintain their health. These initiatives will be more important in 2021 as businesses seek to improve automation within their workforce.


5. Extended Reality (XR – Virtual and Augmented Reality, VR/MR).

These terms refer to technology that projects computer-generated imagery directly into a user’s field. AR is when it overlays on what the user sees in the real world. It is also called VR when it is used for putting the user in a computer-generated environment.

These trends, along with others discussed here, will be seen again next year, helping to address the challenges presented by the current global situation. This will allow us to avoid potentially dangerous situations that could lead to viral transmission. Medical examinations and diagnosis are now possible remotely. Opticians have a solution that allows them to perform eye tests entirely in virtual reality. High-definition cameras provide clear images of the eye. The AR tool allows customers to view the available glasses and to see how they look on their face.

AR and VR tools will be used more in education. This will decrease the need to work in crowded classrooms – even if it’s not completely, at least in areas where transmission rates are high.

As more information becomes available about the circumstances and methods of viral transmission, AR tools can be used to send real-time alerts to us when we travel through areas where the infection has spread. Simple steps, such as reminding us to wash hands after touching a door handle or triggering an alert if we touch our face while in public spaces, can help save lives and prevent us from spreading disease.

These key trends are covered in my new book, Tech Trends in Practice: The 25 Technologies that Are Driving The Fourth Industrial Revolution and The Intelligence Revolution : Transforming Your Business with AI.

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