The year 2020 has been a difficult period of time for all types of sectors. Technology has not been one of the most affected by the effect of the global pandemic, but it has undergone an evident transformation in many aspects, or it has meant that the transformation processes underway have been accelerated or stopped in a further way or less abrupt.
Since the suspension of the Mobile World Congress, the effects of an emergency and health crisis that have especially affected the dynamics of face-to-face work, meetings, business trips, or the sale of technological solutions and service offerings began to be noticed.
Tools such as Microsoft’s Teams or Zoom have been imposed in our daily lives due to the pandemic and the consequent confinements.
Tools like Microsoft’s Teams or Zoom have burst into our daily lives in an abrupt way, while the tools to telework, tele-study or to go, from a broad perspective, from presence to telepresence, have been adopted or imposed without much room for refinements in aspects such as security or cyber-security.
According to IDC, investments in digital transformation on a global scale will reach $ 6.8 trillion between 2020 and 2023, and by 2020, 65% of global GDP will have been digitized.
According to the consultancy, focusing on the IT industry for 2020 and 2021, and as part of CompTIA’s annual report for the IT industry, global IT sector revenues will reach 4.8 trillion dollars in 2020 and will reach 5 trillion in 2021. It is true that the initial forecasts (February 2020) for the IT sector in 2020 were 5.2 trillion dollars, but the data shows that, despite the initial upheaval, the sector of Information Technology has managed to rebuild itself and become an essential pillar in the reconstruction of a face-to-face world in another tele-face.
Despite the initial upheaval, the Information Technology sector has managed to rebuild itself and become an essential pillar in the reconstruction of a face-to-face world into another tele-face.
Sizing the workspace and processes
One of the challenges facing companies that have maintained or increased their activity in the times of the coronavirus is to reduce the number of workers who can share a workspace while increasing needs. Sectors such as transport or logistics, without going any further, have seen their activity increase notably, while many businesses have seen their customers move from face-to-face service to online service.
Online orders can arrive at any time of the day, and not necessarily one by one as happens in a face-to-face store. Business opportunities increase, but as long as no more employees have to be hired to attend the purchasing or service contracting processes. They are mechanical processes and susceptible to automation, which is a face-to-face customer service model that does not interest in de facto automation, but in an online model, it is interesting to manage using software robots.
In fact, automation is one of the essential trends in the IT industry for 2021. Let’s look at some of them and how they fit into a world that is changing in a more relevant and faster way than ever before.
Not even the great war conflicts of the last century can be compared to the phenomenon of the global pandemic: social distancing, confinement or the indefinite suspension of activities such as tourism or travel have been factors of disruption in sectors such as tourism, the transport, hospitality or industry in a web of collateral effects and chain reactions that affect the economy in unpredictable ways.
Robotic process automation or RPA
Process automation or Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as one of the fastest-growing areas within the IT sector. It is about automating those repetitive and systematic tasks that are carried out on a regular basis as part of work activity in front of one or more software tools.
Employees spend huge amounts of time on tasks like moving contacts and data from one application to another, for example. If customer data is captured with an OCR tool, for example, but processed with a corporate database tool, in many cases this transfer of information is done “by hand” by employees. In addition, automated processes do not have schedules and work 24×7.
According to Gartner, RPA has been the fastest-growing field in the IT sector in 2019 and RPA software sales, according to Forrester Research, will reach $ 2.4 billion in 2020. It is a still new field that needs some “twist” more, but its adoption is one of the key trends in the IT industry.
RPA differs from traditional automation in key ways: thus, a software “robot” can run on the front-end of systems rather than having to be driven to lower-level processes. In fact, RPA solutions can even be programmed by employees themselves in many cases. The combination of RPA, AI, and Machine Learning to process information is called Hyperautomation.
According to Gartner, RPA has been the fastest growing IT field in 2019 and RPA software sales, according to Forrester Research, will reach $ 2.4 billion in 2020.
Artificial Intelligence and AI engineering
AI is not a new discipline, but it needs additional elements so that it can be used effectively and leave the current experimental phase. Hence, one of the trends for 2021 is AI engineering.
In a similar way to how engineering began to be brought to the world of software, it is now leading to Artificial Intelligence solutions. The methods used in AI are very powerful, but it is becoming clear that an “engineering” vision is needed to take full advantage of them.
From security to cybersecurity
One of the problems associated with “taking” work out of the office and taking it to homes or coworking centers has been the management of security in connections or in the equipment and devices themselves. In addition, many of the teleworking platforms have been or are being brought to the cloud from “on-premise” configurations.
All this means that security policies have to be taken from organizations to users themselves and their computers and devices used to connect remotely or to cloud services. With the adoption of the telematic work model, many companies have deployed fragile and vulnerable solutions, exposed to cyber attacks and vulnerabilities that must be eliminated in order to ensure that the costs associated with security do not increase above the benefits it brings. According to Cyber Defense Magazine, in 2020 the costs associated with cybersecurity breaches will amount to five trillion dollars.
Check Point, a provider of cybersecurity solutions, affirms that the effects of the changes introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a key point for IT and security teams. In fact, 81% of companies have adopted telecommuting, while 74% plan to establish it permanently. On the other hand, the company points to the new generations of ransomware and botnet threats, as well as the challenges of securing the new 5G networks and the consequent increase in connected devices as the main dangers for companies.
Check Point also alerts you to phishing related to news about vaccines, mobility restrictions, and other “hooks” used to create mass phishing campaigns.
That is, security has to be implemented in a way that is independent of location. This trend is related to the following.
Misplaced operations or “Anywhere operations”
This year has seen how work has been taken from the office to the home. This concept is becoming generalized so that companies can design IT models suitable for workers to carry out their activity from anywhere and capable of bringing work services and tools to employees wherever they are and use the work tools they use.
That is, the services and tools have to be available both on computers, tablets or mobiles among other devices. This trend is related to the following: the adoption of the cloud as a platform and the “as a service” model.
Adoption of cloud solutions and the “As a Service” model
The cloud has proven to be very useful to bring businesses of any size to an offshoring model in a fast and agile way. By taking work tools to the cloud, organizations have made it possible for workers to carry out many of their tasks even from equipment such as Chromebooks without higher requirements than a fast and low latency Internet connection, either fiber or 4G / 5G.
Furthermore, companies have been able to bring their products and services to the eCommerce space without the need to invest in proprietary IT infrastructures, adopting scalable and progressive investment models capable of dynamically adapting to demand. The cloud and “as a service” model has been essential for small businesses.
An example has been Zoom itself, scaling its servers depending on the connected users and the quality demanded. Restaurants, on the other hand, have been able to take their gastronomic proposals to home delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, Glovo, or Deliveroo in a matter of a short time and without making expensive investments thanks to the cloud and AaS nature of the aforementioned platforms.
In 2021 this trend will continue to be essential to maintain business continuity in times of confinement and mobility and schedule limitations.
5G, the time to start seeing its true potential
For now, 5G provides little more than bandwidth higher than LTE and better latency. But it is to be expected that in 2021 we will start to see services that are only possible using 5G technologies, which will start using Stand Alone or SA technologies compared to the current NSA.
Sectors such as critical communications, telecommunications services for remote control of infrastructures, or for collaborative work in fields such as medicine require 5G SA technologies with network slicing. In 2021 we should witness pilot projects that advance business models and commercial services later in segments such as industry, medicine, transport, or infrastructure management.
5G network architecture.
Gaming in the cloud, for example, is only feasible in mobility using 5G. LTE is insufficient for a massive deployment of these types of services. The same happens for assisted or autonomous driving.
Edge computing: when the cloud is not enough
The cloud and cloud computing are trends with their own entity, but it is not always possible to satisfy the low latency or security or availability needs that some services demand using cloud computing under a model of access to infrastructures located in data centers at hundreds or thousands of kilometres.
Edge computing relies on the deployment of “nano” or “micro” data centers in locations close to the services themselves. Latency is reduced, bandwidth is optimized, and demanding processes such as those that need real-time or near real-time are more likely to meet the specifications that are designed for each given service. It is a trend in fields like the IoT to analyze and process data.
With edge computing, latency is reduced, bandwidth is optimized, and demanding processes are more likely to meet the specifications that are designed for each service.
The use of computing at the edge has been dubbed fog computing, alluding to the metaphor of fog and clouds, with the fog closer to the ground than the clouds.
From the IoT to the Internet of Behaviors or IoB
This is a very recent and emerging trend that refers to the use of personal data on biometrics, sensors such as those in activity wristbands, data on driving styles in vehicles, daily activity routines, etc., to offer personalized services already measure. For example, a person with frequent physical activity could take advantage of their health insurance rewards.
A driver with a restrained style, without fanfare, or without events involving irregularities in driving could benefit from discounts on car insurance. According to Gartner, by 2025 more than half the population would be using products or services from this IoB.
Sustainability is an essential parameter to model products and services
With the global pandemic, the focus is also being put on sustainability. In fact, it is estimated that even after the health emergency with the arrival of vaccines and immunization of the population has passed, 50% of business trips and 30% of activity in offices will not recover. It is a prediction made by Bill Gates recently, at The New York Times DealBook conference.
Traveling or commuting to the office means increasing the consumption of energy resources such as fuel or spending an excessive amount of time traveling to the office, at the cost of damaging ecosystems at a time when climate change is at its peak. a point of view as a global emergency, or in which the reconciliation of personal and work-life begins to be seen as essential to improving the quality of life of people.
Sustainability is beginning to be seen as a relevant variable regarding the validity or invalidity of projects or proposals, compared to its marginal nature just a few years ago.
It is estimated that even after the health emergency with the arrival of vaccines and immunization of the population has passed, 50% of business trips and 30% of activity in offices will not recover.
The uncertain year 2021, but one that is approached from the optimism
For the Information Technology sector, 2020 has been a litmus test for the digital transformation processes that began a few years ago are really supported by solid pillars.
The reality is that some have been more robust than others: the cloud has been key to allowing many businesses to have been able to survive or to redirect their face-to-face business models to other face-to-face ones. Security, however, has not kept up, especially in small and medium-sized companies without sufficiently capable IT departments.
The year 2021 will be the year of the consolidation of new ways of dealing with changes: many of the uses and customs that have been adopted in emergency in 2020 will de facto remain in 2021. There will be processes of destruction of jobs and businesses due to trends like process automation, but there will be scope to create other new jobs, or new occupations around technologies like 5G or the IoB or AI from an engineering perspective.
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