Enterprise Technology drivers for 2021


After 2020’s year of serious curveballs, one might question whether it’s sensible to try to predict what’s in store for us in the coming year. But the enterprise technology industry has more reasons to be bullish than most: according to Gartner, while global IT spending dropped by around 5% last year thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is predicted to recover almost entirely by the end of 2021. So what’s in store for the industry? Take a look at our round-up of some of the biggest predictions from some of tech’s brightest minds.

1.       AI finally goes mainstream

Jem Davies, VP & general manager of machine learning group, Arm in Fast Company“From smartphone pictures to smart speakers, consumers enjoy AI and ML technology every day, generally without ever knowing it. Invisibility is a key attribute of this technology that we will continue to prioritize well into 2021 and beyond, spurring the adoption of many applications. For example, one-click smart parking will likely be the first experience with autonomous cars for many, and security systems that can accurately differentiate between the sound of a nearby prowler and a wandering raccoon will attract consumers. We will also have to give consumers a much-needed sense of privacy and data autonomy.”

2.       Cyber Security is in for a period of consolidation

Analysys Mason’s predictions for business connectivity, communications, IoT and security in 2021Large security vendors continue to grow, both organically and through acquisition. Smaller vendors, especially endpoint security vendors, are struggling to increase revenue. Too many endpoint security vendors have low annual revenue (under USD500 million), are growing slower than the market and do not have meaningful differentiators. Mergers are inevitable if these vendors are to remain viable in the long term. Private equity firms with multiple sub-scale security vendors in their portfolio may consider merging them in 2021.”

3.       B2B tech marketers will increase their use of marketing technology and AI

93x, 2021 B2B marketing trends in tech & SaaS report“Navigating the technology landscape is not easy for marketers. Either way, the majority of B2B tech marketers we surveyed were looking to increase their investment in MarTech in 2021. 64.4% B2B tech marketers are looking to increase the amount of MarTech they will be using in 2021, whilst only 2.2% said they would be cutting back. In addition, “35% of B2B tech marketers are certain that they will be making greater use of AI technologies in 2021. It seems nearly every new piece of MarTech seems to claim to use AI in some form or another.”

4.       Innovation will have an international flavour

Erica Brescia, COO, GitHub in Fast Company“The data sharing and open collaboration practices that have been crucial to the fight against COVID will lead to greater public-private and cross-industry collaboration moving forward. We’ll see the pace of innovation increase across the entire world, especially in developing countries where the incredible amount of tech talent is finally being recognized and tapped into thanks to distributed work and hiring practices.”

5.       A new generation of entrepreneurs will emerge

McKinsey, The next normal arrives: Trends that will define 2021—and beyond: “Disruption creates space for entrepreneurs—and that’s what is happening in the United States, in particular, but also in other major economies. A survey published in November 2020 of 1,500 self-employed [British] people found that 20 percent say they are likely to leave self-employment when they can. At the same time, however, the number of new businesses registered in the United Kingdom in the third quarter of 2020 rose 30 percent compared with 2019, showing the largest increase seen since 2012… [T]he positive trend in entrepreneurship could bode well for job growth and economic activity once recovery takes hold.”

6.       Tech will renew its fight against climate change

Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon in Fast Company“Climate change is one of the most difficult issues of our time, requiring a collective effort across academia, technology, government, industry, nonprofits, and society to understand and untangle the complex web of cause and effect unfolding across the planet. As climate data sets get larger and larger, machine learning will start to play a more important role in looking for patterns within that data. Over the next year, researchers will be able to accelerate our understanding of climate science by using machine learning to sift through vast amounts of data and more accurately model the future.”

7.       Digital fatigue will continue to pose problems for technology brands

93x, 2021 B2B marketing trends in tech & SaaS report : “44% of B2B tech marketers think their biggest challenge going into 2021 will be tackling ‘digital fatigue.’ A year of everything being digital is taking its toll on engagement and making it harder to cut through the noise.”

8.       Remote working will continue to evolve

Rony Abovitz, founder, Magic Leap in Fast Company“We will acclimate norms and establish standards and better technologies to make remote work and digital co-presence a permanent part of the global work environment. The patchwork quilt of video conferencing services and web-based team tools that we have all been using intensely for months will rapidly evolve into more sophisticated and powerful interfaces and networks that will allow us to collaborate and deliver services at high speed, at much less cost, and with wider scale.

9.       Intellectual Property will be hackers’ next golden ticket

Flint Brenton, President and CEO of Centrify in Forbes“Intellectual property will be hackers’ next golden ticket… [D]uring the COVID-19 pandemic, we began seeing an alarming trend of cyber adversaries targeting intellectual property such as vaccine research, including Russia’s APT29 going after research centers in the U.K., U.S. and Canada. With countries and companies around the world competing to be the first to announce a distributable vaccine, we believe hackers and possibly even insiders will begin releasing the fruits of their malicious efforts on the Dark Web in 2021 — for a premium fee of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

10.   5G services for businesses will finally start to emerge

Analysys Mason’s predictions for business connectivity, communications, IoT and security in 2021“Operators and vendors commonly cite the B2B market as being central to the 5G business case. Despite this, B2B offers that are built on 5G capabilities are still rare, even though 5G networks are now live. This will change in 2021. 5G back-up for fixed services (for example in SD-WAN solutions) will become prevalent. More standalone 5G products for enterprises, such as those from Cradlepoint, will also be launched, for example, supporting niche IoT services such as digital advertising.”