Innovation and Productivity: Will 2021 Be Your Year?

As the world of work is ever-evolving, we’ve taken a look at the most anticipated technology trends of 2021 and how companies can leverage these fast-moving changes to develop new digital capabilities and accelerate corporate digital transformation in the post-pandemic world.

Don’t get left behind, Innovate your way into the future with these trends:


Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more deeply integrated into our lives than we might be aware of. From the things you see on social media networks to movies recommended on Netflix and other streaming services, even up to the products that are specifically suggested when you shop online on platforms like Amazon, AI is very much a part of our everyday lives. In 2021, AI will likely expand to a breadth of pressing opportunities that governments and organisations are now uniquely equipped to tackle, to solve global and market problems faster, better, and at scale.

● Edge AI

Edge AI is a network infrastructure that enables AI algorithms to run on the edge of a network, meaning closer to or on the devices collecting the data. Edge AI is touted as the next big thing in AI by industry experts. With edge computing, instead of sending data for processing in central locations in the cloud, such data can be processed closer to the users and devices that need it.

Also, with AI on the device collecting the information, the cost of connectivity will decrease since processing data locally reduces bandwidth and cellular data usage. Furthermore, locally embedded AI ensures that devices with poor communication infrastructure are less subject to connectivity losses that can hinder mission-critical and time-sensitive decision making.

● Run a financial organisation? Automated and explainable AI is a must!

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, banks and insurance companies expect an 86% increase in AI investments by 2025. With this expected increase, financial institutions would have to educate their less tech-savvy employees on how to utilise AI systems if they are to increase their operational performance and exploit the full potential of Artificial intelligence. This would also necessitate the need for user-friendly AI platforms that allow business employees to quickly build models, easily understand their output, and confidently make decisions to facilitate the deployment of AI at a larger scale.

Cloud Cloud Cloud!

The cloudless server is a technology that provides space to work without the need to operate or manage physical servers. The dramatic shift to remote work that accompanied Covid-19 lockdowns were some of the contributing factors to the acceleration of the move already underway toward cloud computing. In 2021, this is a trend that will continue to evolve.

Hybrid Cloud out in front

The widespread, sudden disruptions to work culture caused by the pandemic have highlighted the need for agile and adaptable cloud infrastructures. Hybrid cloud environments provide speed, control, and security and because a large per cent of the workforce will be working from home for the foreseeable future, companies would do well to ensure they have hybrid cloud infrastructures in place to enable better data-sharing between a distributed workforce working across multiple applications.

The past year has seen major investments in hybrid cloud technologies from large public cloud providers like Azure, Google, IBM and Oracle. These investments are all about striking the right balance for the cloud infrastructure needs of the organisations. On one hand, it addresses the challenges of exponential data growth, while also being proactive on issues like privacy, security and compliance.

● Customer Data Platforms

According to IBM, the United States loses about $3 trillion to “bad data” yearly. Bad data poses a big challenge for companies that rely on accurate and well-curated data and addressing this issue has become a priority for organisations. This is where Customer Data Platforms (CDP) come in. Bad data arises as a result of fragmented data from a variety of sources. CDPs help solve this problem by collecting data from all available sources, organising it, and making it usable for anyone who needs access to it.

With companies like Adobe, Oracle and Microsoft already heavily invested in providing the market with new CDPs, coupled with the continuing acceleration of data collection across a huge ecosystem of touchpoints, there’s no doubt CDPs will be especially relevant in 2021.

Remote Work, of course!

Remote work may be around for a while longer than people had initially anticipated when the pandemic started. According to a CCS Insights survey, 60% of business leaders in Western Europe and North America expect at least 25% of their workforce, and in some cases, all of their staff, to work partly from home even when the pandemic is over. Big companies like Dropbox, Twitter, Microsoft and Facebook have already committed to remote work for a significant percentage of their workforce for the foreseeable future.

Many executives reported that they are moving faster than ever before on things like improving data security, and increasing the use of advanced technologies in operations while working from home. Through remote work, the COVID-19 crisis has created an imperative for companies to speed up the transition to the digitisation and reconfiguration of their operations.

● Flexibility is KEY

Workplace flexibility has become increasingly important to the retention of employees. A 2019 survey of 7300 workers indicated that 80% of the workers would be more loyal to employers who offered flexible work options – an upward trend from the 75% in the 2018 survey who said the same. With that said, going forward employers must be willing to offer flexible work options to employees if they are to see an increase in employee engagement and productivity.

● A word on RESILIENCE

The pandemic completely disrupted many business operations. One of the key qualities of businesses that survived the pandemic restrictions is resilience. Whether it was in switching to virtual operations to facilitate employees working from home or shifting from serving international markets to operating solely with a local consumer base, the ability to stay resilient and adapt to new developments in the market will offer robust protection against these challenges facing business operations.

Emerging technologies provide the framework for innovation to enable companies to tackle challenges they may face in the market. Hopefully, this article assists you in choosing potentially disruptive trends to invest in 2021.

Did you know?

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