For many, 2020 will be remembered as a year of unexpected and unprecedented change.
As individuals, families, governments and businesses have wrestled with the onset of a global pandemic, we’ve all had to make significant changes to different aspects of our lives.
That has included a dramatic shift in how we view and use technology. Everything from weekly Zoom quizzes with extended family, to stepping out of the office to work remotely, perhaps for the very first time.
We’ve seen first-hand with our own customers just how much the pandemic has influenced their decisions, shifting priorities and adjusting long-term strategies.
While these changes might not have been expected at the start of the year, one thing that has become clear is that they will continue to influence plans for 2021.
With that in mind, we’ve channelled our inner ‘Mystic Meg’ to work out what we think 2021 holds and share our own thoughts, observations, and predictions for the year ahead.
Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the rate of digital transformation was gathering pace. This process has only been accelerated by the events of 2020, and shows little sign of slowing as we move into the new year.
As highlighted in a previous blog, the perception of IT has started to change. It’s now increasingly seen as an enabler, with digital transformation making its way to the top of business leaders’ agendas as they look to unlock the value of new innovations. This means changing the way that their people work, and also using new technologies to refine processes and better utilise resource.
When businesses reacted to quickly facilitate remote working, it served as an opportunity for the workforce to prove that they could operate in new ways. 2021 is likely to see many revisit those initial responses and re-evaluate their approach in a number of key areas in order to outline a revised, more informed long-term strategy.
Beyond new working practices, digital transformation will extend to harnessing the latest innovations in areas such as IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). This will form part of a renewed push towards industry 4.0 as organisations look to apply a greater level of sophistication to how they operate. By adopting connected, intelligent technology capable of collecting, analysing and sharing data, organisations will gain new insights into how they function and can begin to better utilise their existing resources, while automating more processes over time.
With organisations looking to re-think IT strategy in pursuit of greater efficiencies, a shift towards edge computing could prove attractive to many in 2021.
This is driven in part by the increased adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology such as sensors and scanners, where important information is collected at multiple on-site locations. Everything from manufacturing processes, to environmental conditions, and even the flow of people through your office/workplace can be captured.
To make effective use of this data, it must be gathered and analysed in real-time, but centralised storage architectures can create unwanted latency and delays, impacting performance, quality of user experience and time to derive value from the collected data.
Edge computing sees that this data is captured, stored, and processed much closer to the point at which it is created, avoiding the need for it to be pushed back to a centralised data centre.
Cybersecurity is never too far away from the top of any IT team’s agenda, but COVID-19 has flushed out new exposures thanks to mass changes in working practices.
Whereas traditional methods of managing corporate devices focused on anti-virus and anti-malware protections, alongside the implementation of network defences such as firewall, the 2021 workplace will demand a more considered approach. Businesses need to better enable secure access from non-corporate owned devices and place a greater emphasis on identity-based protection. This means developing strong authentication policies that shape privileges based on the context of the user at the time they want access.
As businesses seek to establish a competitive edge in 2021, it may lead many to look at discovering untapped value in their data.
For years, many organisations have, perhaps inadvertently, become data hoarders. Creating more and more data, they have retained everything regardless of its importance or value.
Known as dark data, archives are often made up of large swathes of redundant, obsolete or trivial data, incurring unnecessary storage costs as a consequence. However, turning the spotlight on this data can also reveal welcomed value such as insights into customer behaviour or significant trends that may help build an advantage.
We expect to see data discovery and re-classification become a priority for many.
As-a-Service, consumption-based models have already become a go-to approach in the last few years, but their popularity is only set to continue as businesses look to re-evaluate their IT spend.
So many of the apps and services they already use are now delivered via cost-per-user or cost-per-license subscriptions, and having experienced the predictability of cost and flexibility these options deliver, businesses will be keen to explore new avenues of adopting this practice.
Equally, identifying opportunities to consolidate separate subscriptions within a single package will be a focus as we move through 2021.
Whether our predictions come to fruition or not, we know that the new year will bring a host of exciting opportunities and changes for your business, and we are here to help.
As you identify new projects for 2021, if you would like any assistance from our team, please feel free to get in touch.