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2021 technology trends

Following on from last month’s selection of 2021 technology predictions, here are a few more trends likely to influence your clients’ investment decisions over the next 12 months

Scott Chancellor, Chief Technology & Product Officer, Apptio

“While the pandemic inspired an 8% decrease in global technology spend in 2020, SaaS remained the fastest growing area of cloud spend. In making the shift to a distributed workforce in the spring, enterprise organisations rapidly adopted new cloud services to ensure business continuity. Yet, much of that adoption was hurried and piecemeal. Without a centralised purchasing and accountability structure, we saw a sharp rise in redundant SaaS licences and underutilised tools, ultimately undermining the potential cost benefits of SaaS products. If the after-effects of the move to the public cloud 5-7 years ago are any indication, 2021 will be a year of reckoning for IT and finance teams as they look to streamline SaaS management with an eye towards better visibility and accountability across business units to stabilise costs after a period of rampant adoption.”

Brad Drysdale, Field CTO, SnapLogic

“AI/ML will play a bigger role in making more and more tasks ‘invisible’. In our integration space, AI to date has been primarily around learning and assistance in streamlining complex integration tasks, such as data mapping. In 2021, machine learning will continue to improve to the point where the AI will do less ‘assisting’ and more ‘augmenting’ by actually undertaking tasks that today are normally done by a human, with AI ‘assistance’ via suggestions. As the AI does more and more of this, these tasks will become invisible and be ‘just done for you’, bringing us one step closer to autonomous, self-driving integration.”

Jonathan Crane

Jonathan Crane, Chief Commercial Officer, Amelia, an IPsoft company
“2020 has seen intelligent AI and automation support professional roles in a number of ways. In insurance and banking, for example, AI-enabled digital colleagues have started to work with customer service representatives as ‘whisper agents’. They can not only source the information their human counterparts need to reply to individual customer queries, but also understand the industry’s complex regulations and provide recommended responses in line with them.

“The potential for AI to release mundane admin hours across all types of white-collar roles in this way is massive, presenting a huge opportunity to reduce the burden on employees and improve business productivity, with more time concentrated on value-added tasks.”

Digital transformation
Brad Drysdale, Field CTO, SnapLogic

“Having weathered the disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, organisations will be constantly on edge. Disruption will be absolutely expected at any point, and businesses will need to ensure they are battle-ready. It won’t be enough to have a 3 or 5-year digital transformation plan. There will need to be a constant sense of urgency around being ready to adapt, pivot and defend at a moment’s notice.”

Data privacy
Felix Marx, CEO, Truata

“High-profile data breaches and an increased emphasis on data privacy worldwide are causing more consumers to engage with businesses that meet higher standards of data privacy. In a survey for our Global Consumer State of Mind Report, 77% of global consumers agreed that ‘data privacy is essential to them’, while 62% said they would continue to use companies that ‘explain what they do with their data’.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has helped make data privacy more convoluted, with many people concerned that the increase in health reporting and movement tracking could lead to increased surveillance, which could have a detrimental effect on consumer privacy.

“It’s important to note that there doesn’t have to be a conflict between privacy and the use of data for societal good, if an effective privacy or data protection by design approach is adopted. If privacy and ethical considerations are given thought in advance, they can improve the ability of these analytics and data programs to effect change. Ultimately, if it’s recognised that data is being collected and processed in a way that’s both ethical and privacy-compliant, these programs will be more willingly accepted by the public, resulting in greater public buy-in and more impactful results.

“In fact, Gartner predicts that privacy-enhancing computation will be one of the main drivers of change in 2021, pointing out that the Internet of Behaviours (IoB), which captures the ‘digital dust’ of people’s lives and uses the information to influence behaviour, will present significant challenges to businesses when it comes to the use and storage of personal data. As more information becomes available and the technology that collects and analyses this data grows more sophisticated, the IoB may be rejected by consumers unless it offers clear benefits.

“The pandemic has made consumers aware of the control they should have over their data. Now more than ever, it is key for brands actively to adhere to data privacy regulations and act transparently in order to regain and retain loyalty.”

Speech recognition
Michael Tansini, Product Owner, Speechmatics

Speechmatics Michael Tansini


“Remote working has seen an operational revolution take place in workplaces across the globe. With video conferencing now the norm, many companies are missing a trick by not extracting valuable information and data from these interactions. In 2021, having better visibility of the insights voice data holds will be essential. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) will do the heavy lifting of capturing conversations so that valuable insights are not neglected.

“Remote working has not been an easy transition for all, such as those working in a non-native language or with speech and hearing impairments. ASR and low-latency transcription can play a big role in helping to alleviate those difficulties.

“Increasingly, consumer-facing businesses will find that the first interaction with a customer will be virtual, with phone lines and chat rooms effectively becoming virtual front doors. Effective use of ASR in these scenarios can be the difference between someone stepping in or walking away. In 2021, businesses need to make sure that the reception they offer customers is inclusive, accessible and flexible. High quality speech recognition is one way to do this.”

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TechnologyReseller: 2021