IT Tech Trends in 2021

What are we talking about in this article?

At COR we know how hard staying on top of tech trends can be, and the reason for this is the vertiginous pace at which new technologies are evolving, alongside the digital transformation we are currently experiencing.  And this rings especially true in IT developments.

The informational technological advances we see go extremely fast, and that’s without taking into account the many other fields these advances affect. The evolution happening in the IT industry is accelerated and exponential, since a discovery can be utilized in multiple other sectors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance IT trends have in our daily lives, and the many changes it has brought to our way of work, the applications and possibilities are enormous. IT professionals have a tough road ahead, since they need to continuously learn, unlearn, and rethink what goes on with new, top technologies in real-time.

Keeping up with current tech trends also means keeping up with needed skills for the future, and sharpening tools for new job opportunities. 

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Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has been the icon of a series of digital revolutions, the major exponent of developing technologies with real life applications in almost every market, field of work, and industries. In the past decade it has been a subject of constant buzz, and it continues to be one, since we can harness its power into a growing number of uses.

Some of the most common uses involve image and speech recognition, phone’s personal assistants, transportation apps, financial forecasting, and the use of algorithm systems and models. AI can help us navigate the huge quantities of information we produce every day, by helping us analyze, categorize and make sense of big data.

AI will be further used in the evaluation of our digital interactions, gathering and reaching connections and insights we couldn’t get without the help and support of it. Think about the current applications in the healthcare industry. Algorithms can help understand the ups and downs of demand for services like hospitals, first care centers, and clinics. With information such as this, these healthcare providers can anticipate possible requirements, manage their resources accordingly, and allow for smart, data driven decision making.

E-Commerce services and providers, like Amazon, can better understand the underlying customer behaviour, analyze the patterns, and optimize their supply chain. This can help improve client engagement, personalized shopping experiences, and optimizing web designs in order to increase revenue and profitability. Or even digital services like LinkedIn use the algorithms to improve their matches between employee/employer, using and sharing data gathered in their own social media platform.

Just take a look at Markets and Markets’ report on the AI market. The current spending on research and development of AI, machine learning, and cognitive systems is over $57 billion. Markets and Markets forecast the AI field will grow into a $190 billion industry by 2025. And this is only natural, taking into account the reach these emerging technologies have over every sector of the market. This means new job openings and the creation of new positions that will be needed in the development, programming, analysis and maintenance sectors in the IT field. And the salaries these positions currently have are very competitive, even some of the highest in the current  job market. 

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence, and what we mentioned before rings true to this practice as well. Machine learning is the underlying tech used in speech recognition, traffic prediction, spam and malware filtering, product recommendations, machine translations and more. The ability to learn and improve the system through its constant analysis is an incredible thing. 

This technology is also being used in many industries, since it helps businesses employ a better customer experience, and it facilitates the process of solving clients’ questions at a great pace. As well as being used in dynamic pricing. We can rest assured that machine learning is here to stay and it seems it will only grow into a bigger industry. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA is another subset of AI technologies, it basically amounts to the use of software models to automate simple, mundane and repetitive tasks. Many people are afraid of the implications these advances mean to the employment market, and they are not completely off. As much as we like technology trends, they can have a negative side, and not mentioning it is neglecting reality. 

Even Bloomberg and Forbes recognise some of the risks, with the first creating an interactive test in order to see if your job could be automated. McKinsey & Co go as far as saying that AI and RPA will terminate the need for 77,000,000 jobs in the next 20 years. 

HR managers, auditors, credit analysts, sales clerks, maybe even truck drivers could be at higher risks. While other professionals like teachers, lawyers, physicians and surgeons, financial analysts and IT managers are the least likely to be automated. We mention this, not to be alarmist or fall under false panic, but to recognize RPA has real and concrete effects in the employment rates of certain markets.

While some jobs could be at risk of falling into oblivion, this is not only a product of RPA, but it is a direct consequence of the changing landscape of job opportunities. The current workforce needs to understand the changing game, and be on the lookout in order to evaluate how to take advantage of the new technology trends to their benefit. 

The same occurrence has manifested across our history, whenever a new development simplified a task, lowering the need for human jobs. Like the appearance of direct telephone communications, transforming the need for phone operators. Or even the horse and carriage industry with the appearance of the automobile.

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Automation as a possible road to better job opportunities. 

 Robotic Process Automation can also be a positive force in the job hunting market. The reach this technology can give us is limited to certain types of tasks, like interpreting applications, following and processing transactions, even data analytics, sending and responding to mass emails, creating spreadsheets and reports, etc. These are tasks that are repetitive and take a lot of time to complete by employees, but don’t require the complex problem solving ability natural to us.

RPA is creating new job opportunities in the field as well, like AI engineers, RPA managers and architects. And there’s a whole side of things that is usually glossed over. The liberation from mundane tasks allows for the opening of new jobs analyzing the share data extracted from these technologies. 

It’s not only data scientists who will play a role in this. But traditional professionals can take on more profitable projects, and give their expertise by counseling, evaluating and creating new perspectives in business processes. AI, as much as it has been evolving, still can’t fabricate complex and all encompassing business strategies or problem solving functionalities.

A case study developing right now is the Accounting industry. While they can lose some part of their project opportunities to taxing and auditing softwares, they can re-invent themselves and use these technology trends to their benefit. 

Edge computing 

With the rise of cloud computing as the mainstream technology in use today, some operations have found certain difficulties with implementing it in certain markets or distant geographic areas. And this has only increased with the normalization of remote work. It is only logical that another form of data gathering emerged with the rise of public clouds.

Edge computing, in simple terms, is the process of gathering, storing, processing and analysing data close to the client’s location, where the data is being generated instead of overseas servers. 

Big data has been the new normal for a few years now, and the sheer amount of data a company has to deal with is only rising, and sometimes cloud computing can’t keep up. Being for the regular technical shortcomings it presents, the limited storage space, or the impossibilities in connection some remote working areas have. Edge computing was developed to help with these issues, especially latency.

The name comes after the fact that it is located “on the edge”, close to where the computing needs appear. This technology acts as mini datacenters, facilitating the processing of time -sensitive data in unconnected locations. Or locations with unreliable internet connectivity

Imagine an oil extracting operation in the middle of the sea.They need to gather huge amounts of data, and they need a reliable structure in order to safekeep their valuable information. As well as keeping an eye for any sort of problem in the process they keep, it is an industry in which any problem could be, not only costly, but a danger to its environment.

On a radically different note, some gaming companies are looking to install local edge computing solutions in order to minimize latency, or “lag” in online gaming. 

Another implementation of edge computing is presented by the rise of the Internet Of Thing (IoT), in order to connect the multiple smart devices in use. And this is not only a possibility for smart homes, but also in the healthcare industry. Hospitals have multiple monitoring devices, and these are usually not interconnected, or require the storage of large amounts of data in 3 party clouds. And this can be very complicated due to the lax cybersecurity some providers offer. A local edge system on site could solve this issue. 

Cybersecurity 

On that last note, we should take on the cybersecurity challenges we face today. Especially the rising trend in ransomware attacks. 

One of the main threats cybersecurity experts face today is ransomware attacks, at this point it is almost an industry, the numbers are frankly staggering. Ransomware is a malicious software that infiltrates a computer, a network, or an IT system, in order to encrypt, limit, or restrict access to vital data, until a ransom is paid.  

With the pandemic and the fast, on the go, implementation of remote work , there were many doors left unlocked, and hackers took advantage of this situation. The rose 148%!  But these fallible entryways are older than the pandemic, there are many ways for a hacker to infiltrate a system, the multiple devices carry some of the blame, but the most worrying aspect amounts to common folk ignoring the dangers and the possible protection they could employ. 

And it’s not really their fault, is it? You shouldn’t have to be a cybersecurity engineer in order to lock the door to your devices. But the fact remains that the digital revolution brought multiple tech advances that the regular user doesn’t comprehend, even large corporations and state offices are vulnerable to these attacks. 

The payments can be debilitating, the average ransomware payment in 2021 increased by 82% year over year to $570,000. The highest payment to date was $40M from an insurance company this year. Many victims of these attacks are easy prey specifically because they can’t afford cybersecurity,  like small businesses. Other victims fall due to breaches by mail campaigns, a single employee can suffice for a hacker group to get inside the system.

One way to stop this is to train your employees on the basis of cybersecurity. With only simple instructions and guides, lowbrow attacks can be stopped, since one of the most common ransomware tactics is email phishing. Investing in security can save millions of dollars from being stolen each year.

Resource Management

Blockchain

Blockchain has been one of the new developments in cybersecurity technology. The first implementations are linked to cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, and proliferated around 2009, with big developments around 2014. This technology is very sophisticated, it works consisting of blocks with timestamped transactions, each unit of blocks is linked to the previous ones, creating a chain of cryptography. They manage two types of records, transaction processes, and blocks. These transactions are the actions implemented, with timestamps, tied together in a block. Since each string of information is impossible to predict, any outside tampering is detected almost instantly. 

The growth of cryptocurrencies for emerging markets had an incredible influence around the world, with some countries even using blockchain technology for their national currency. Even helping charity projects help individuals without bank accounts.

Another important implementation of blockchain security is in fraud-proofing systems for transactions. There’s a lot of interest in these advances, and the possibilities of using it outside the scope of digital currencies.

And this is the important aspect of digital and IT trends. The possibilities for re-inventiation are endless. With data and knowledge about your own internal operations as a business you can reach unimaginable goals, until now. The work done by the IT industry is not only important, but what currently makes the world go round. At COR we take pride in helping professional service businesses keep a profitable margin, take good care of their employees, and optimize their fees, in order to keep doing amazing work. If you want to know how we can help you, take a step in the right direction, and request a demo today.

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