The world of tech is constantly evolving, with the next big thing always just around the corner. But, last year, the big changes revolved less around the latest gadgets and more around the unprecedented onset of the coronavirus crisis.
With a global pandemic altering daily life for so many, it only makes sense that the tech industry would work to keep up with the world’s new demands. Here are seven trends that defined the year just gone and look set to continue defining 2021.
One of the most notable consequences of the coronavirus crisis was the sudden switch to remote working. Almost overnight, whole swathes of erstwhile office workers were forced to work from home, meaning that technologies that could connect colleagues became more important than ever.
As a result, instant messaging, teleconferencing, and remote management tools became not just desirable but absolutely critical to business-as-usual operations. And, even though people are starting to return to the office, a new preference for flexi-working means these remote working tools will remain relevant moving forwards.
While many businesses opted for video conferencing and faster-paced messaging services, others wanted a more immersive home-office experience. Also sometimes called “telepresence,” virtual reality technologies have been put to good use in the past year, helping coworkers feel close and connected despite the distance between them.
If working from home continues in any capacity, then the ability to make people feel as though they are in the same space will continue to do great things for morale and productivity.
If there’s one thing that is absolutely certain in tech these days, it’s that artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t going anywhere. Tech blogger, Antoine Bechara says, “not only are machines getting smarter as the days go by, but they are also becoming more useful in exciting new ways, all thanks to AI.”
Struggling businesses are using AI to improve efficiency, while people locked down at home are benefiting from AI-generated customisation on their favourite entertainment platforms.
AI has also played a key role in the global pandemic response, helping to speed up the fight against coronavirus.
Okay, maybe not everything. But, in the current climate, efficiency and productivity are paramount. So, anything that can be automated should be.
By introducing automation, you can speed up previously laborious and costly operations, so your time and money can be better spent on other things. In a world that is only just beginning its recovery from a deadly pandemic, every minute and penny counts.
Now that even minimal social contact can have severe consequences, companies have been looking for ways to reduce person-to-person interaction. But it’s not been easy, since in-person, home delivery became one of the only ways people could get all of the things they want and need.
Hence the arrival of delivery robots, or self-driving vehicles able to deliver goods to consumers at home. Thanks to this technological marvel, shoppers and workers alike are spared the risk that human contact currently poses.
The mass migration to the online world has ushered in an age where just about everything is done remotely. Unfortunately, though, not all companies had the foresight to get themselves kitted out with remote capabilities.
However, thanks to platform-as-a-service offerings, businesses were able to keep up with the sudden demand for their services to be carried out remotely. From remote communications to digital payments, platform-as-a-service has provided many businesses with the tools they need to survive.
Throughout 2020, the world’s digital transformations just kept coming. E-commerce experienced a colossal boom, as those stuck in lockdown quickly made the shift to online shopping, creating an explosion in online sales statistics. In 2020, more than two billion people made online purchases, and online retail sales alone surpassed US $4.2 trillion worldwide.
Experts predict that by 2023, the US alone is expected to have 300 million people shopping online - that’s a staggering 91% of the current population. The effects of pandemic lockdown have catapulted us into an inevitable future somewhat early - it was always on the cards that shopping would continue to predominantly shift to the online world, but Covid-19 accelerated this shift, by as much as five years according to expert analysis.
Alongside this mass migration online, related industries had to keep up to stay in the game. With retail competition so fierce in such a convenient digitized landscape, the scramble to attract and retain customers led to an enormous increase in the use of digital coupons, and leading coupon sites grew exponentially.
The stats speak for themselves. Redeeming digital coupons for online grocery shopping alone rose by 54% between 2019 and 2020, and it is predicted that digital coupon redemption is set to soar beyond $90 billion by the year 2022 - almost twice the amount in 2017 of $47 billion.
You might have noticed that drag-and-drop website design platforms have been on the rise in recent months. This isn’t particularly surprising, given that a company’s website has never been so important.
But, some businesses never really needed a sophisticated online presence until the pandemic hit. For those businesses, drag-and-drop customisation has been a godsend, helping them to create advanced websites without the need for in-depth technical knowledge.
Since it’s looking like businesses old, new, and soon-to-be will all need to have an impressive web presence to remain adaptable as the world moves on, it’s likely that drag-and-drop will only get more popular.