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    What to keep an eye on in the industry this year?

    Tech trends 2021

    The new year should start with a BANG! But it’s safe to say that after 2020, it will be a challenge to surprise you with anything.

    Let’s talk about what might await us, not quite in a “prediction” kind of way – more about the forces and events which will drive 2021. 

    These are general technology-related points, based on my observations from the last few weeks. 

    Key points:

    • What changes are happening in the tech industry right now that you should be aware of?
    • What is the “new normal” after 2020?

    What are the biggest tech trends?

    Salesforce might go after Microsoft

    There is not much competition in the modern workplace environment right now. It is either Microsoft or Google (I see Google a lot less but that’s my confirmation bias). Outside of those two, there are no big players in the field. Although, there is Amazon, and Facebook has some products but not much traction. 

    At least, that’s the case for larger organizations. But as has been pointed out to me by our Marketing Specialist Piotr, Google Cloud is quite popular among SMBs, even though Microsoft is catching up with products like MS Teams. It could be because Google is perceived as being easier to implement and doesn’t require too much technical knowledge on a smaller scale.

    There might be something to it. A long, LONG time ago, we used Google too. I mentioned it here.

    In recent years, Salesforce has been trying to build its place in the modern workplace, expanding from a CRM to a broader ecosystem. The latest acquisition of Slack added to this tendency.

    What they are missing are video and conference calls. But these features can be built or bought on the market, and they will be up against Microsoft in the workplace communication game.

    Zoom nailed it in 2020 with its unexpected success, but they have to decide what their next move is, and make it. We will see what happens. It might be a play unfolding over the next few years, but it is definitely something to observe.  

    Google is not hitting it with the cloud

    I know how it sounds, especially in places like Poland, where I live, and where Google invested in local data centers, but they are not killing it yet. From my point of view, they are missing the opportunity when it comes to the cloud, especially considering their size in other fields. There might be several reasons for it – check out this interesting Twitter thread for some insights.

    I see some clients taking projects into GCP but not on such a massive scale as people choosing Amazon and Azure. Being 3rd among the Western players or 4th globally (Alibaba is making a splash now) is not bad, but Google can definitely do better.

    Let’s see if they do, also in terms of the Google productivity suite, where Salesforce might go after their market share. 

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    Big Tech companies will face more attention and scrutiny

    Big Tech (someone coined this term after Big Pharma) is getting some scrutiny with its all-cloud technology both for enterprises and individual customers.

    2021 started with some new developments on the social media front (yes, I’m referring to the de-platforming of certain politicians from social media). It was something that hasn’t happened before. AWS decided to take action and follow by removing a customer from its platform. 

    Not getting into politics, it will make some people raise an eyebrow. Can it happen for us as well? What is the failsafe against it? 

    As we can’t compete on building the capabilities, there are growing concerns around significant providers’ concentration of computing. We will see if it causes any actions from regulators or tech providers themselves. It will be something we will be talking about more in 2021.

    Competition is moving from software to silicon

    2020 brought some new developments in the silicon area. Apple has released its first computer with its own CPU – M1. It has already been using its silicon across mobile devices for a long time.

    The same is happening with other vendors – they work on their silicon to better control the progress and performance in this area. 

    Microsoft announced it’s also working on its own security chip – the Pluton processor – to replace TPMs and take care of security on the platform. 

    2021 and beyond might see all major providers delivering their own silicon as part of their competitive advantage, where it was software not that many years ago. It would raise a question of what will be Intel’s response to it. 

    Security will be a significant point of concern and focus

    I tried to avoid it but it is hard – yes, security will be a significant point on our agendas this year. The end of 2020 brought a major security incident – SolarGate, as it is called. All clues indicate that state actors targeted specific software providers, and they succeeded.

    What is the real outcome of it, and what will be the impact on us – we are still finding out as investigations are underway. One thing is already certain – we need to focus more on handling situations like this. I will cover it in detail in another article.

    Technology-enabled creativity will change people’s careers

    One thing you could observe for sure is how many of us turned out to be creators during 2020. Creators in a different capacity – for public media or internally within businesses. Technology will fuel it even further. 

    When you think that you can create a video without actually shooting a video, and edit it using a text editor (both options available as ready-to-use software), and it is all available through your browser – that’s something. 

    This trend will fuel a lot of people’s creativity and allow them to channel it into doing “something.” It might be an alternative to traditional career progress. 

    In one way or another – 2021 will be an exciting time for all of us.

    Why? 

    We’ve just gone through one of the weirdest periods of our lives as a general population, with everything around us affected. I know all of us, including you, will want to make up for it this year. 

    It will drive a lot of what we do – having more interactions with people, getting back to traveling (to some degree).

    The good outcome from 2020 is – we’ve accommodated! We’ve adjusted the way we commute (or don’t), work, learn, socialize. 

    The outlook is bright. We should be getting back to ‘normal’ life throughout the year, but many things will stay with us anyway.

    Which 2020 changes will stick?

    What I see staying with us for sure is:

    1. Offices will change their purpose

    They won’t be a place to go every day. Instead, they will be somewhere to accommodate people occasionally, for direct human interaction.

     2. Work and life will be displaced from major cities

    You and your co-workers and employees – we will all expect to move around, work, and live in any location. It will affect the work environment but also technology providers and the directions they push their solutions in. It will affect the way we look for and attract talent. It will affect the way we hire people.

    3. Business-to-consumer interaction will get dispersed

    The interaction will get more direct. Your business will talk directly to end customers more and more. 

    4. There will be less business travel

    Many companies noticed that despite traveling less (which helped to save money) they can still do business, sometimes even more effectively than before 2020. This will likely lead to reducing business travel in the long term, cutting unnecessary costs, and reducing the carbon footprint at the same time.

    5. Tools getting more specialized

    Instead of a single suite of software used for all purposes, each of us as individuals and businesses will use more specialized tools. I see it in my personal life but also at Predica in general and within my department. 

    This year saw a rise in all kinds of tools focused on specific tasks. They work great. They also put pressure on the integration and security of using all of them together. 

    All of the above will fuel technology development. In 2021 we might, at last, get a laptop with a decent camera as the entire industry recognized that what they did so far wasn’t bringing their A-game. 

    That‘s on the personal front, but technology will become more important to businesses than ever, even if they are not directly involved in tech. 

    6. Practice is more critical than the technology itself

    It is not technology as such that makes a difference. It is the way we use it and how it is woven into our life or business. This is what makes a difference – our practices with technology and how we put them to work. I think many companies learned it the hard way, and it will be an important point to realize in 2021.

    You have enough tech around you. Think about how you use it.

    Why these points? 

    Technology will allow you to meet expectations from customers, employees, and you as an individual on the other side of the equation. 

    That’s a good sign for you; it is a good sign for me as well. It looks like we are in the right place for 2021 to unfold. 

    2021… bring it on. We will accommodate! 

    I don’t make New Year’s resolutions or specific plans. I don’t believe in it. 

    I do have some ideas about what to do, and I will share one with you right now. 

    I will look into more small options and bets. I am exploring new technology in small projects. Using ready-made technology to execute a small bet and see what the outcome is for a business.

    For me, it will be a year of experimentation with what is possible following the outcome of 2020.

    What will it be for you? 

    Key takeaways:

    1. Salesforce going after Microsoft in the workplace communication race, the growing importance of security, competition moving from software to silicon, and increased public attention to Big Tech companies – these are some of the events and trends, determining what 2021 will bring.
    2. 2020 has spurred the growth of online work. We’re at the point of no return, so we should prepare for a future of digital workspace and digital business & consumer relations. Technology’s impact on our businesses will also grow, but our practices with this technology will be more important, than our choices on which tech solutions to implement.

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