2020 was a disruptive year for the tech industry – accelerating developments that may have taken 3 to 5 years to implement to common use almost overnight.
Given these developments, here are five tech industry trends we’ll see within the next 11 months:
- WFH culture sets off a renewed focus on smart collaboration and office set-up of the future
As companies examine the functionality of the workplace, we’ll start to see more traditional office workspaces become periodic collaboration hubs, while home offices become the day-to-day workplace.
The office will likely transform from many desks, conference rooms and shared amenities to a cooperative business centre supporting specific project-based priorities on an ongoing basis.
As a result, employers will need to equip their full workforce with the right tech tools, deployment, and IT support to maximize productivity and collaboration – for both working from home and in the workplace.
- 5G and connectivity will be in the spotlight
5G became a reality in Africa in 2020, but its launch was overshadowed by the global pandemic. In2021 this will begin to change.
5G has infinite possibilities that South Africa, particularly, has not yet begun to explore. It is more than just ‘very fast internet,’ as it can enable many more products and services. It will also enhance AR and VR experiences, which in themselves have great possibilities yet to be explored.
5G will continue to transform personal computing as more PCs – joining tablets and smartphones – embrace always-on and always-connected capabilities, offering freedom from reliance on Wi-Fi alone. This is especially critical now as multiple household members stretch home Wi-Fi networks at peak hours while working and learning from home.
- New form factors for new generations
2020 saw the introduction of foldable technology in PCs and smartphones that reshaped the potential of portability and productivity. In the coming years, these devices will move to the mainstream as more panel suppliers offer greater options at lower price points.
Further out, we may even see foldable tech extended to external monitors that can be folded and unfolded, rolled and unrolled, in order to expand and contract to accommodate the number of viewers watching.
These displays may one day also be imbedded into our smartwatches, textiles or even toys that extend like a scroll. Enterprise-grade, AR-enabled smart glasses for more versatility in remote maintenance and training, for example, will also come to the fore.
- Heightened cybersecurity and transparency
Security of sensitive information will be a top priority in 2021, once again because of the proliferation of data, the ever-growing number of entry points, and hackers becoming more resourceful.
With the traditional network suddenly moving away from the corporate environment, the perimeter has now expanded to all devices connected remotely to the cloud or other work devices – where even smart home devices may add risk to corporate networks as employees log on from home.
Below-the-OS attacks, where hackers dive deeper into the computing stack for vulnerabilities, is also a growing risk. More remote and cloud infrastructures in the new normal also means companies will need to grapple with how best to keep themselves secured with integrations of partner security services.
Ultimately, organizations will need to commit to a more agile, business-centric approach to security that doesn’t replace their existing security models but rather places security within the context of the organizational strategy.
- IoT, Edge and Blockchain technology will become more popular
IoT has made huge strides over the past two years. It is becoming part of homes, businesses and cities as people strive to make their lives simpler, streamlined and more connected.
An IoT ecosystem consists of web-enabled smart devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors and communication hardware, to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments. IoT devices share the sensor data they collect by connecting to an IoT gateway or other edge device where data is either sent to the cloud to be analyzed or analysed.
With IoT, a considerable amount of information is generated, which is then analysed by cloud servers to extract only the useful data. This data is then fed back into IoT, to increase its accuracy and relevance.
The truth is, deploying internet of things at scale can be a complex task. Everything looks different. IoT applications, gateways and smart devices are installed differently and can be scattered across an organization’s physical locations.
As these IoT technologies become more prevalent, so too will connected products that require greater autonomy and speed, and edge computing will help facilitate this by rapidly analysing their information.
With edge computing, products are able to process information immediately at its source, rather than having to first divert through the cloud. This makes technology like autonomous cars possible.
Lastly, Blockchain – an amazing piece of data regulation technology will most definitely become more popular in the coming months. When Blockchain technology first appeared on the public’s radar a few years ago, it was often conflated with Bitcoin.
However, while this was happening – the importance of Blockchain technology itself was overshadowed. 2021 will shine a light on the importance of this technology, as the focus turns to enable trust.
The reason for this is that Blockchain technology is able to record transactions between two parties without the need for third-party authentication, and is thus often referred to as a digital ledger. The information in this ledger is open and decentralised, which makes it ideal for identity management and tracking sources of assets and data, thus playing a key role in the identification of information.
By Thibault Dousson, GM for Lenovo South Africa
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