The global pandemic put technology centre stage, from the initial drastic shift to remote working worldwide, onto vaccine development, and a rapid expansion of, or pivot to, e-Commerce. It has also had a major influence on the coming trends and developments in the space. While the after-effects are still with us and the virus far from eliminated, we can be confident that the technology sector is one that will continue to evolve and experience rapid growth, whatever the outcome.
The digital transformation plans of countless organisations were accelerated during the past 18 months, as companies embraced tools to enable them to survive and continue business as normal through a period of unprecedented change. Solutions that were possibly seen as temporary during the initial stages of the pandemic have proved themselves worthy of full adoption and have paved the way for some of the trends we expect to see over the next year or two. Similarly, as employees had to adapt to remote working and a more digital lifestyle, their lives have now fundamentally changed, and many will never return to their former working practices or environments.
Remote working is here to stay
Moving to the cloud and setting employees working from home wasn’t as problematic as many employers imagined – some organisations transitioned thousands of employees in a matter of days before the early lockdowns kicked in. Studies have since shown that productivity hasn’t been impacted; most employees have enjoyed a more positive work/life balance; and the improvements in VC tech has kept communication, interviewing, training, and onboarding possible. With health concerns still prevalent, we expect online meetings and digital collaboration to remain the norm well into next year, regardless of a gradual return to the office.
Unsurprisingly, plenty of start-ups have appeared in the VC space to challenge the established players such as Teams and Zoom, with many providing additional functionality. As this is relatively new technology in terms of mass adoption, we may well see a disruptor rise to the top. Although many organisations have retained office space and are making plans for a return to work under a hybrid model, several big names have implemented full remote working for employees who want it. This could see a seismic shift over time to “locationless” businesses, as employers enjoy the cost benefits of less physical space to maintain, as well as a wider talent pool of remote candidates.
Cybersecurity will move up the agenda
With employees working remotely, accessing potentially sensitive company information from a home working tech set-up, the likelihood of a cyberattack is increased. To ensure compliance and minimise risk, training in cyber-awareness will be vital, equipping employees with the tools they need to secure their devices. As hackers become more sophisticated to take advantage of the current window of exposure, specialist cybersecurity skills will be in high demand as organisations ramp up their protection in the short term. Due to the number of high-profile security breaches that frequently make headlines, we expect to see cybersecurity at the top of the corporate agenda while digital transformation journeys are still underway. Remote working is still a relatively new phenomenon and the necessity to implement it quickly will have outweighed security protocols for many organisations that will need to address this before it is too late.
An increasingly digital life
e-Commerce can’t really be classed as a trend given its prominence before the pandemic; however, it is one of the few markets that has experienced significant growth during a global economic downturn. If remote working continues as we expect, then online sales will increase their market share as more retailers expand and improve their product offering and mobile applications. One related tech trend that is in its infancy but could benefit from an e-Commerce boom is drone usage and self-driving cars in contactless delivery. Health concerns have fundamentally shifted the way deliveries are made, in response to consumer preference for no physical contact, and tech advances in this field are moving rapidly.
The retail sector is one of many that are also turning to augmented reality (AR) tech to reach consumers with product visualisation, with the AR market booming. Coupled with advances in payments and facial recognition tech, the e-Commerce space is likely to go from strength to strength in the next year. As 5G rolls out in the near future, our digital lives will be further enhanced as more and more of our devices go online to streamline and improve our lives. The Internet of Things has been much discussed but should really come into its own on a 5G network, enabling areas such as healthcare and manufacturing to advance quickly.
Specialist talent in demand
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