Trevor Townsend

Feb 2, 2021

4 min read

Tech Trends To Watch In 2021

Technological innovations seem to be more and more rapid each year. The rate at which technology evolves accelerated in 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has provided plenty of insights in identifying trends, recognising patterns, and modelling landscapes while tracking progress and growth — not just to navigate through the pandemic but also for adaptation in various industries and technologies.

Below are a few emerging tech trends that startups are embracing to accelerate their solutions and get richer products to market.

1. No Code / Low Code Programming

A low-code application is a computer program that is fully customised with a minimal amount of programming. That said, while it’s faster and cheaper, low-code still requires that the coder has programming knowledge.

On the other hand, no-code software is an approach that allows anyone to tailor an application to their needs without any programming knowledge whatsoever.

No code allows an automation layer to compress the time and accelerate the ability to build software up to 100x faster than currently available.

Stakeholders from different segments of business, i.e., developers and business users, have in the last few months identified what low-code platforms are capable of, making them priority developments in 2021. In fact, according to Gartner, “By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity.”

2. 5G Rollout Vs. Edge Computing

5G is the fastest-growing disruptive technology in history. Experts predict that 2021 will see substantial developments in the 5G ecosystem. This includes movements towards standalone 5G networks and applications that will fully utilise 5G transformational possibilities such as Edge computing.

Edge computing refers to computing that’s done at or near the source of the data. Edge will work in a complementary way with the cloud. Data will continue to be processed in the cloud, but user-generated data that belongs only to users can be operated and processed on Edge or in real-time.

According to reports, Edge computing will hit its inflection point in 2021. The global edge market is also expected to surpass $6.7 million in the next 12 months.

3. Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Significant trends in robotics are likely to play out in 2021. Think software and hardware robots.

Some of these developments will play their part in helping us to recover from the effects of the pandemic, while some of them will make it easier for us to understand and navigate the new normal.

According to Ark Big Ideas automation has the potential to shift unpaid labor to paid labor. For example, as food services automate, they will transform food prep, cleanup, and grocery shopping into market activities including food delivery. ARK believes automation will add 5%, or $1.2 trillion to US GDP during the next five years.

Human-robot collaboration is about to shift to the next level. With the ability to work in tandem with humans, robotic systems are able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

Fears abound that automation will destroy jobs, but ARK believes it will empower humans, increasing both productivity and wage growth.

As reported by Oxford Economics, “the global stock of robots will multiply even faster in the next 20 years, reaching as many as 20 million by 2030.” The autonomous robots foundation laid in 2020 is expected to gain momentum in 2021.

4. Zero Trust for Enhanced Enterprise Security

Zero Trust is a new security concept that requires all users, including those inside the organisation’s network, to be authenticated and their endpoint validated before being granted access to systems.

Zero-trust will become the prevailing system security model for organizations in 2021. With emerging trends in cybercrimes, zero-trust seems like the only way to secure enterprises from high-profile data breaches as well as widespread outages.

Watch out for zero-trust models to start to change banking and financial services applications in the near future.

5. Deep Learning and Quantum AI

Software that writes software... using data to write new algorithms, “automating” the creation of software deep learning could change every industry.

In 2020, deep learning-powered almost all large scale internet services including search, social media, and video and in the next decade, it is expected that the most important software, including autonomous vehicles and accelerated drug development, will be powered by deep learning.

2020 also showed great strides forward in AI being used for human-like conversations and early in 2021 Open AI was generating images from text.

It is estimated by Ark Invest, that over the next two decades Deep Learning will create more value than the Internet has.

Quantum computing focuses on developing computer technology based on the principles of quantum theory — it explains the behaviour of energy and material on the atomic and subatomic levels.

Quantum computing builds computational capabilities of AI and Machine Learning that cannot be performed today. Quantum computing, which was just a research project a few years ago, has advanced significantly to be recognised as one of the revolutionary technologies that will shape 2021. The HBR poses the key question for technologists: Are you ready for the Quantum Revolution?

Thanks to the computational advantages of quantum computing, quantum AI will help achieve results that are impossible to achieve with classical computers.

Conclusion

2020 has taught many enterprises the need to always track and experiment with new technologies. With a New Year at hand, it is typical to consider disruptive innovations and forecast what trends will dominate the year.

From networking through programming to security, 2021 will be an interesting year as we watch great innovations unfold.

Even more exciting is the thought of the intersection of these technologies. A combination that I believe will produce results more than the sum of their parts, i.e., connections of 5G and AI, or AI and quantum computing, all of which, when integrated, can produce exponential results — and what could be more exciting than that?