(Photo by Flickr user Kārlis Dambrāns, used under a Creative Commons license)
As I gaze through the night sky on a chilly autumn night in hopes of catching glimpse of a shooting star, there is not one.
2020 has been quite a year. The world has changed significantly due to the pandemic and much of it was driven by technology. Big tech dominated the year both with its services and lofty valuations, while most small businesses and startups prayed to survive another day.
With few weeks to go for 2020 to end, let us look at the tech trends for 2021. It promises to be a big year, but how will your work and personal life be changed by technology?
As a startup founder interested in researching and imagining ways technology will transform our future, I enjoy writing about tech and startups. In my view, here are four top tech trends and predictions that we should be looking out for:
1. Working from home outlasts COVID-19.
With virtual and online collaboration tools such as Zoom, DocuSign, Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams’ easy and widespread use, many businesses will cut down on their office leases or opt for smaller space, helping the case for a permanent work-from-home option. This will result in a more diverse workforce where a lot of new talent will be hired from overseas. While benefits of work from home will be less traffic and carbon footprint, hopefully better work-life balance for most employees and savings in real-estate cost for companies, the in-person human interaction part will be missed. Sipping your morning coffee and chatting over sports or politics at 8 a.m. or during your lunch will be a thing of the not-so-distant past.
- Predictions: Expect a split and mix of both remote and office work to be the new normal. While unplugging yourself after work at home can be a challenge, flexibility is key to positive employee morale. Work from home offers exactly that.
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2. Online shopping is here to stay and will grow exponentially.
We have always loved online shopping. And through COVID-19 we have come to love it even more. The aura of packages and boxes coming in, being left at your doorstep, and then opening them have always had a unique feel. COVID 19 made it an obvious choice for most families. With vaccines on the horizon, expect a large influx of customers and window-shoppers in malls and retailers (after the vaccine) — but that should fade in the long run as ease and product varieties of online shopping outweigh brick and mortars.
2021 should see more companies turn their focus on increased digital marketing to drive ecommerce sales. Digital platforms will see increased ad dollars coming in and checkout completed through their platforms while Amazon can be expected to be the powerhouse and juggernaut it is. Per Statista: In 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online, up from 1.66 billion in 2016.
- Predictions: Expect big tech and brands to continue their dominance while brick and mortar retailers will fight for survival. Mom-and-Pop stores may well be in their final days, before becoming an urban legend.
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3. Blockchain adoption
Blockchain will be a disrupting force in tech. With its base built, in the decade of 2010 the industry is ripe to take off. The 2000s was for web, 2010s for apps and social connectivity, while 2020 can well be blockchain. The use of blockchain will be widespread, ranging from aiding vaccine discovery or its logistics to identity management, record keeping, cross-border payments to the secure sharing of information. Existing cryptocurrencies or new ones built by sovereign countries will fuel the momentum and public interest. We can expect AI, cloud and big data along to facilitate blockchain adoption.
- Predictions: Expect finance, security, and the health sector to lead blockchain application. National crypto currencies may appear with increased government intervention and scrutiny. Blockchain experts will be in high demand as the sector takes off.
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4. Embracing 5G
With 5G being the talk of the nation and Apple just launching their new generation iPhones, 2021 will be a massive year for 5G’s increased adoption. It will transform industries, enabling everything from smarter homes and businesses to self-driving cars. Aside from raw speed, perhaps the most transformative feature is its ability to accommodate the tens of billions of connected devices, smart objects, and embedded sensors expected to come online in the coming years as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality. Expect AI, augmented reality, and virtual reality to facilitate 5G adoption.
The main benefits of fifth-generation networks include higher download and upload speeds; low latency; and the ability to connect multiple devices at once.
- Predictions: Expect developed countries to be the first movers, putting the power of 5G to use in 2021. Developing nations will start build their infrastructure and framework for a more connected, faster, and productive decade to follow.
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