Can you believe the first quarter of 2021 is already over? This year is flying by and businesses are fighting to reach goals and make back some of the revenue they lost because of the COVID chaos last year. Fortunately, technology is here to help them streamline business strategies and adapt to the new digital-first landscape. Non-profit trade IT association, CompTIA took the time to outline some of the biggest tech trends making an impact in our lives in 2021. Their IT Industry Outlook 2021 report was full of interesting insights and analysis, focusing on ways tech and business will merge this year. Here are the top 10 tech trends they predict will influence our lives in 2021...
Top 10 tech trends, according to CompTIA
1). There is no normal
It's something we're still searching for, as many of us wish to return to normal, while others are focusing on defining the 'new normal'. However, for businesses, this is unlikely to happen. The concept of an established pattern will be more elusive, forcing companies to juggle a multitude of options, from employee locations to supply chain components to customer demands. While there's a welcome sense of freedom, instability can be bad for business. Two qualities to master now are flexibility and resilience so that you can be prepared for whatever future disruptions come your way.
2). Cloud is king
While cloud computing was absent from the tech trend lists for 2020, it's back and in the spotlight in 2021. With flexibility and resilience as guiding principles for success this year, organisations will adopt a cloud-first mentality when it comes to building or upgrading IT infrastructure. But, companies might prefer to modify or choose systems to fit with a cloud strategy. It seems that few companies will place 100% of their systems and applications in the cloud, going for a cloud-first rather than cloud-exclusive approach.
3). Channel firms respond to customer changes
The need for flexibility by channel firms has never been greater as customers work their way through uncertain times. From a business model perspective, a new focus around business consulting skills is one way to maintain value to customers. Helping them prioritize initiatives during a down time and showing them how to use a cloud foundation to automate their organizations, cut costs and increase efficiencies will be key in 2021 and beyond.
4). Channel dynamics become more balanced
Vendor/partner relationships become a marriage of equals, with cloud computing as the primary matchmaker. Customers rely more on their providers of technology, aka channel partners, because with cloud, much of the actual vendor technology is abstracted from view. For partners, it means their calling card is no longer the vendors they work with, but rather their own branding and value. In 2021, there will be more emphasis by vendors on providing an optimal partner experience via ease of doing business, communications, incentives and support.
5). Emerging technologies find their place in business solutions
Technology is a driver for business objectives rather than playing a supporting role. A big change is the nature of technology in the marketplace, especially emerging technology. With cloud and mobile options well established, the basic platform for tech activity has stabilized. The use of technology can now happen anywhere at any time, and more energy is being directed into the solutions that go on top of that platform. Broadly speaking, tech like internet of things (IoT) or artificial intelligence (AI) are not standalone pieces. Instead, they are elements of a larger solution, often bringing new capabilities that enhance functionality and value.
6). Zero trust shapes cybersecurity initiatives
Verify everything becomes the new paradigm that guides cybersecurity practices. Instead of trusting any network behaviour or user access that appears to come from a secure location, everything must be verified. That leads to up-front risk analysis to determine which pieces need the highest levels of security. The next step is recognizing that data and applications need to be secured individually, and user access needs to be defined at a granular level. The entire operation must be monitored continuously, using data analysis techniques and machine learning algorithms to check for anomalies and report on overall health.
7). Managed service providers build deeper cybersecurity expertise
One of the more notable trends among MSPs in the last few years has been the shift to redefining their businesses almost exclusively around security, creating the category known as managed security services providers (MSSPs). In 2021, that category will strengthen. MSSPs apply security-specific expertise across all customer systems, infrastructure, applications and data. Not having security expertise is a deal breaker for many customers.
8). Tech industry prepares for regulation
Whether it’s the debate over breaking up the largest tech companies, establishing clear legal ramifications and penalties for the exposure of sensitive user data, or figuring out how to thwart foreign countries from using social media to meddle in elections, the topic of regulation is front and centre. The impact of new compliance practices and regulations is likely to be felt by everyone, from the largest industry titans to the smallest channel firms.
9). Business conversations drive business skills for tech pros
No longer relegated to the help desk, IT pros’ need for professional skills is accentuated. The move toward digitization and the cloud has brought the role of IT front and centre. Now, as IT pros interact with various lines of business, from HR and marketing to the front office, they're required to possess 'soft skills' as well as impressive technical knowledge. Basically, it’s about the ability to communicate, lead, make a case, write well and organize a team. Previously, these skills weren't a focus, now they're a differentiator.
10). Companies set public goals for diversity
In terms of diversity in the high-tech workforce, it’s time for companies to move beyond awareness to accountability with deliverables that are public and certifiable. As much as 2020 taught companies about flexibility and resilience in the face of business disruption, it has also drawn a spotlight to fair treatment, and the most forward-thinking companies will publicly demonstrate their commitment to this ideal.
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No matter what industry you're in, these trends in tech are likely to impact how you work, who you work with, and how successful your business will be. The biggest advantage to have going into the second quarter of 2021? Knowledge. So stay informed wherever you can.