The last six months has led to more digital transformation produced than the last decade due to the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout that resulted. An urgent need for 24/7 secure and more reliable connectivity has been a priority with the remote workforce growing exponentially.
What will all this mean for 2021? Will the core technologies such as AI and data analytics still fill the headlines or will the pandemic force the issue for innovative and previously emerging technologies to take the lead?
Here are some of the digital transformation predictions for the year 2021 according to an article from Forbes (see article here) written by Daniel Newman, the principal analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group.
Heightened Importance in Cybersecurity
With the current pandemic, cybersecurity has seen a renewed relevance yet again. Hackers have taken advantage of the new workplace climate to expand their attacks against businesses small and big worldwide. There has been a 238 percent rise in recent attacks on banks, and an unprecedented 600 percent increase in attacks on the cloud servers as well, which was observed January to April of 2020. It is imperative that companies fortify their networks and work-from-home devices now that there are fewer employees working onsite on the same network. This paves the way for companies such as Fortinet and Cisco to capitalize on the capabilities of their firewalls and intrusion detection. Companies like Splunk and IBM will also have an opportunity to feature their security identify and event management. Microsoft, another company that poured resources into security areas like active directory, software and cloud, could also see a boost. The pandemic has no doubt given a jolt to the importance and relevance of cybersecurity as it has moved to the forefront of business leaders’ minds.
Remote Work Outlasts the Pandemic
While the events of 2020 caught many companies off-guard, it also proved that working from home can still be very effective. In fact, in many cases there have been reports of improvement in productivity and lower operational costs for offices. There has been rapid development in smart work–from–home technologies. Platforms such as Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams and others have seen an explosive growth in use and development, making them more user-friendly and tightening up security. We have experienced impressive growth in the development of work-from-home devices which has resulted in growth of PC sales. This has also led to growth in new secure connectivity like SD-WAN at a scale which offers improved connectivity to the office as well as a lot of flexibility that VPN has a tendency to struggle with from time to time. It would be no surprise if the work–from–home movement outlasts COVID-19.
AI Democratized at Scale
The proliferation of AI will impact many lives from the way we shop, the way we eat, how people can be hired and even what you may do for entertainment. The pandemic has triggered a huge incline in the democratization of AI and data. Data, AI, and machine learning are the tools that companies, governments, and other agencies naturally turned to when working together in an effort to create a faster solution to stop the spread of the virus. The momentum that started in 2020 will likely continue into 2021 and will expand to a breadth of opportunities that these groups and businesses are now equipped to tackle, such as solving global and market problems a lot faster and closer to scale. AI is very much a part of our everyday lives, impacting what we see on social media to the movies that are recommended on Netflix or even products that are suggested when you are shopping on websites such as Amazon. With the cloud enabling access to the computing power that continues to become more affordable, as well as software and frameworks, even more companies will be able to benefit from AI.
Folding Devices Have Newfound Relevance
Do you remember the flip phone…? Well it is making a comeback. Customers have a heightened focus on being always connected and wanting devices that are lighter, smaller and even more connected than ever seen before while still offering versatility. Users have a renewed interest in hybrid devices like the Microsoft Surface Duo and the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 which double as phones and as tablets that can fold and unfold depending on a person’s unique needs. In 2021, flip phones will now be able to provide the same high quality and connectivity as the non-folding phones. Devices like the Galaxy Fold 2 are taking off and now that companies have made folding screens durable and more reliable. Will this change our devices forever? Probably not, but in 2021 you should see a lot more of these folding and unfolding devices. The flexibility for devices to be in laptop mode or tablet mode is increasingly appealing to consumers. In 2021 you can expect the connected PC to gain more momentum as well. The new lightweight, powerful notebooks are now equipped with full connectivity via 5G and LTE. Powered by Windows on ARM or Intel certified project Athena, CPUs that incorporate modern connectivity, users will have the ability to connect on their laptops the same way they do on their cell phones. This results in remote and work–from–home employees having access to a more reliable means to connectivity.
Hybrid Cloud Continues to Gain Momentum
It has been known for awhile that businesses are increasingly moving toward a hybrid cloud infrastructure. Hybrid cloud strategies help organizations achieve the right balance for unique cloud infrastructure needs. This is often done with the use of SaaS applications and on-prem solutions to a mix of public and private clouds. We have seen major investments, over the past year, in hybrid from large public cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, Google, IBM and Oracle. You can also expect to see OEMs like HPE, Dell and Cisco pouring more resources into the investment of building tools that make it simpler to connect between on-premises data centers and cloud. The investments are all about making it possible to meet the customer where they are at the moment. Facing the difficulties of exponential data growth, while remaining proactive on issues such as privacy, security and compliance is the name of the game. Disruptions caused by the pandemic have highlighted the importance of an adaptable cloud infrastructure. This is certainly the case as we are seeing more companies worldwide fast-track investments in cloud to enable a rapid change in moments of uncertainty such as those you may have faced in 2020.