2021 IT Forecast: 5 Tech Predictions for the Upcoming Year

Wooden blocks spell out 2020 TRENDS in black numbers and letters, with the last block with 0 on it rotating to show another side with a 1 on it to change it to 2021 TRENDS.In my 2020 IT forecast, I predicted that the new year would bring significant changes in the tech world. At the time, COVID-19 hadn’t started making headlines yet, and I had no idea just how drastically the year ahead would affect not only the realm of technology but also all aspects of life for everyone around the world.

The world we inhabit today is in many ways totally different from the one that existed in December 2019, before the novel coronavirus spread across the U.S. and spurred stay-at-home orders, mass migration to remote work for those who could do their jobs from home, and widespread economic decline and uncertainty.

With COVID-19 vaccine distribution in progress, however, there’s hope that 2021 will soon bring us another “new normal,” not quite what we had before the pandemic but better than the anxiety-inducing reality of 2020. As we look forward to what will hopefully be a better year, here are some key tech predictions to keep in mind as you craft your IT strategy for 2021.

1. Hybrid office environments will become common, along with technologies that support distributed workforces.

Even after the pandemic ends, it’s unlikely that everyone who transitioned to working from home will return to the office full-time. Fifty-five percent of American workers surveyed in May 2020 said their preference would involve a mix of on-site and remote work, according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research article “How working from home works out.”

As a result, many companies are making plans to maintain hybrid approaches, with some employees logging in from home and others in the office, according to the BBC article “Why the future of work might be hybrid.” Technologies like Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platforms and other cloud-delivered solutions and services will remain vital for businesses that need to support collaboration and drive productivity for distributed workforces.

2. The cloud will become more popular than ever.

When the pandemic sent businesses scrambling to find ways to give their employees access to vital data and resources while working from home, many organizations turned to the cloud. Almost 60 percent of enterprises said they expected their cloud usage to go beyond what they previously anticipated because of COVID-19, according to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report. That momentum in the realm of cloud adoption is expected to carry over into 2021 and beyond.

“Cloud had a proof point this year — it worked throughout the pandemic, it scaled up and it scaled down,” said John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, in a press release. “This proof point will allow for accelerated penetration of cloud through 2022.”

Overall, the global public cloud infrastructure market is projected to expand by 35 percent, reaching $120 billion in 2021, according to 2021 predictions from Forrester Research. Cloud solutions proved essential for surviving the pandemic, and companies seeking long-term success and resilience will continue to invest.

3. Digital transformation will be essential, not optional.

Before the pandemic, many businesses viewed digital transformation efforts – initiatives that involve leveraging new technologies to improve processes and adapt to changing consumer expectations – as optional endeavors that they could potentially put off until the semi-distant future.

However, COVID-19 accelerated our already ongoing journey toward a more digital and virtual world. In its wake, any company that still lags in adopting new IT solutions like the cloud will be left in the dust sooner rather than later. Digital transformation is now a matter of survival instead of growth, according to Gartner.

4. Proper cybersecurity will necessitate a “mesh” rather than “walled city” approach.

When work moved from the office to everyone’s kitchens and living rooms, the traditional perimeter dissolved as far as IT security is concerned. That means businesses can no longer employ a conventional approach to cybersecurity, as many IT assets are now situated outside the walls of their offices, as explained by “Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021.”

Gartner predicts that organizations will instead deploy a cybersecurity “mesh” that redefines the perimeter based on the identities of people and things. For businesses seeking a remote work solution that balances accessibility with security, we offer an Office Anywhere solution that leverages a zero-trust framework with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). With our solution, end users have a single identity based on unique device characteristics, multi-factor authentication and other app classifications.

5. Businesses will employ hyperautomation to stay efficient and competitive.

This approach involves automating everything you possibly can, according to Gartner. In today’s world, you don’t have time to stay on top of cybersecurity and new technologies in addition to manually handling routine tasks like upgrades across all devices. Automation via solutions like our Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering can save you a significant amount of time while driving efficiency and streamlining operations.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to say for sure what 2021 has in store for us. We’ll have to wait and see what changes we’ll face this year – although hopefully, they’re more positive and less drastic than the ones we dealt with in 2020.

If you’d like guidance as you adjust your IT road map for the new year, don’t hesitate to reach out to our trusted technology advisors. Our advisors have extensive experience helping our clients shop for and implement cutting-edge cloud solutions and other advanced technologies. We also offer some digital transformation consulting services for companies looking to modernize and streamline their processes.

Connect with our advisors today by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing sales@stratospherenetworks.com.

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