19 May 2021

The hottest tech trends we’re seeing so far

The pandemic forced companies to adapt to technologies as a matter of survival.

Many companies today are working hard to enable remote work, migrate to the cloud and work on digital transformation projects. With the forced mass shift to remote work, many new technologies became non-negotiable – speeding up an already in-progress transformation. The shifts that started in 2020 will snowball in 2021 and beyond. Let’s take a look at the five tech trends to keep in mind for this year.

1. A digital workplace is the new norm

With lockdowns and stay-at-home orders rapidly rolled out, online collaboration tools are making it possible for organisations to serve their clients remotely and create virtual spaces for their employees to stay connected. KPMG, the multinational professional services network, fast-tracked its deployment of Microsoft Teams two years ahead of schedule. The company also had to connect 260 000 users across the global organisation.

Hybrid teams will become the norm as workplace preferences change and office footprints shrink. Digital workplaces are evolving at a speed never seen before, and organisations must adapt to deliver the modern employee experience their people demand.

2. The acceleration of cloud transformation

Our lives have largely moved online. In the past year, remote work, booming e-commerce and an endless stream of content have resulted in increased cloud adoption and consumption. Digitalisation is accelerating the move to the cloud, helping businesses unlock productivity gains, drive efficiencies and innovate at speed and scale despite organisational limitations.

3. Internet of Behaviours

Internet of Behaviours (IoB) is about using data to change people's actions. The digital age has experienced an increase in tools and devices that gather digital dust which can be used to impact behaviours through feedback loops.

Take a commercial vehicle for instance, a company can monitor all types of driving behaviours, from sudden braking to aggressive turns. This data can be used to improve driver performance and produce a positive knock-on effect for the company.

Data can be combined and processed from many sources such as commercial customer data, citizen data processed by public sector and government agencies, social media, public domain deployments of facial recognition and location tracking. This type of data processing does have ethical implications though. For instance, your health insurance company can increase your premiums if it sees that you’re buying too many unhealthy items. So it’s necessary for privacy laws to impact the adoption and scale of IoB.

4. Total experience

A total experience encompasses the experiences of customers, employees and users to inject relevance into business outcomes. This involves improving the overall experience of technology, employees, customers and users at the intersection where all these elements meet.

Linking all these experiences – instead of improving them individually in a silo – sets a business apart from its competitors.

This trend enables companies to take advantage of Covid-19 disrupters. A telecommunications company worked to improve customer satisfaction by transforming its customer experience. To begin with, the appointment system was deployed through an existing app. Customers who came within 22 metres of the store for their appointment received two things: 1) A notification that guided them through the check-in process and 2) a notification telling them how long it would take before they could safely enter the store and maintain social distancing.

The company also added more digital kiosks to its service to enable employees to use their own tablets to co-browse customers’ devices and enabled employees to use their own tablets to co-browse customers’ devices without having to physically touch the hardware – eliminating the need for physical contact on the hardware. Customers and employees benefited from an enhanced experience through a safer, seamless and more integrated experience.

5. Virtual reality and augmented reality

Virtual reality (VR) immerses the wearer in an alternate world while augmented reality (AR) enhances their surroundings. Technology like this has primarily been used for gaming, but it has also been used for training such as VirtualShip, a simulation software used to train the US Navy, Army and Coast Guard ship captains. In 2021, these forms of technologies can be expected to be further incorporated into our lives, typically working in tandem with some of the other new technologies.

Training, entertainment and education, along with marketing, are all potential uses for AR and VR.

It can be used to train doctors to perform surgery, offer tour groups a deeper experience or even enhance marketing such as the Pepsi Max bus shelter augmented reality.

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