Businesses — still in the middle of a remote work era and likely to stay in that realm for the next few months — are taking stock of their technological needs for the new year. But a few technology trends affecting businesses promise to have the most impact in 2021.
Let’s review what technologies will impact businesses the most this year. We promise to return at the end of the year to assess how correct we were.
1 – Natural language processing/AI
Structured data, like what is stored in spreadsheets and tables, only accounts for part of a business’s available data. Upwards of 80% of business data is unstructured, according to Accenture, and therefore is less accessible to decision makers.
Lux Research’s new report, “Foresight 2021: Top Emerging Technologies to Watch,” identifies and ranks 12 key technologies that will reshape the world over the course of the next 10 years. Vice President, Research, Kevin See, Lux Research, says natural language processing is showing explosive growth in terms of innovation.
“The ability to parse voice and text data is a massive opportunity, and NLP promises powerful capabilities to extract insights from vast piles of unstructured data in practically every industry. NLP is the most likely to impact common IT use cases as organizations attempt to manage knowledge of all types more effectively.”
Market research suggests the market size of NLP will grow to $16 billion this year.
2 – 5G
Maybe this selection is cheating, but 5G does have the ability to impact more than just your data transmission speeds. They can impact your projects as well.
Think about how nervous you would be if a technology integrator told you, “hey, this audiovisual system needs to rest on your network.” This is a common anxiety point for IT departments and tech managers everywhere.
But many high-bandwidth systems are increasingly able to be put on a data network — and 5G can handle them. Putting, say, a digital signage server on this network instead of your IP limits hackable weak points and helps maintain faster internet building-wide.
Not to include too many buzzwords here, but 5G can also help if your organization is considering any investment in IoT for similar reasons.
3 – Remote onboarding
As stated, we’re still months away from a full, “normalized” return to the office. Some companies don’t think they’ll welcome employees back until early summer 2021.
As you’ve no doubt heard hundreds of times over the last year, remote work is very likely here to stay, even if it poses a few logistical problems. So even when workforces are given the green light to return to “business as usual,” the very definition of what that is might have already changed.
US cities are seeing large reductions in population, which suggests remote work will likely continue to be a trend for years to come. So how will companies deal with the task of onboarding when a new employee doesn’t live anywhere near HQ?
They’ll need to rely on software which guides each part of the onboarding process. Critically, these technologies will also help employees grasp who does what in the org chart, as well as promote/enhance a digital-first model of operations.
- Cybersecurity: something which was always — and should always be a concern — found new footing in a year where more small businesses reported cyber attacks
- Hyperautomation: as work trends towards an “anywhere” model, the automation of manual tasks will become a top priority
- Software unification: similar to point No. 3, IT departments will expect their software to do more and more this year, and software unification technology will help them do that with more seamless communication
What technologies are most important to you and your organization this year?