Technology and IT trends for 2021 – Part III

Continuing from Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we see three more trends in this post – how digital transformation plans are accelerating, why technical debt is making a comeback, and how edge and IoT are making rapid progress. 

Digital transformation plans are accelerating

This acceleration was bound to happen. The pandemic merely moved up the timetable. Many companies that merely paid lip service to digital transformation have now felt the real need for it. Several industries have seen the ground underneath them shift, for some, in very drastic ways. Many businesses are now moving online, and the adoption of digital channels has seen a massive push. 

Digital channels are now coupling revenue models with applications themselves. Companies are leaving money on the table by not enabling digital transformation in key areas. 40% of our survey respondents said that getting buy-in for their digital transformation projects and implementing them is a worry that keeps them up at night. 

Almost all digital transformation projects now have the added challenge of implementing them with a remote workforce. This challenge may ease up as the year progresses; however, starting the process is more important than ever. 

This pace of digital transformation also acts as a driving force behind enabling technologies such as collaboration tools. 46% of survey respondents said that finding and rapidly integrating collaboration tools is a key focus area in 2021. While tools such as Asana, Slack, and Trello have always been around, enterprises are realizing their real advantage only now. Newer tools that target niches will also drive innovation in this field. 

Technical debt resurfaces

Like the pandemic’s challenges were not enough, technical debt is making a comeback. Along with maintaining legacy products these are starting to show on the balance sheet in more significant ways. This resurgence is troubling for most senior technology leaders and CxOs. 

With focus on reducing cost it is hard not to miss the heavy pull of technical debt. Over 40% of technology leaders expressed concern that technical debt and end-of-life products occupied more space in their product delivery pipeline.

Servicing technical debt and keeping the lights on in end-of-life products is also delaying the delivery of the product roadmap. This compromises a business’ ability to address growing competition and get the first-mover advantage. While no clear solution will emerge, It would be interesting to see the creative ways they come up with to keep this from encroaching their financial statements. 

The year of edge computing and meaningful IoT 

2021 will be the year in which IoT and edge computing will take off beyond toys and consumer products. Several factors, such as the pandemic and rise of digital channels, more efficient and cost-effective hardware, rise of 5G technologies, and AI-driven software development, all come together to drive IoT in unprecedented ways.

With 5G’s arrival sooner than expected, more capacity, lower latency, and high throughput will be cornerstones of improved connected devices that reside at the boundary of a network. Advancements in making more efficient hardware, growing 5G connectivity, and tools such as AWS Greengrass can empower edge devices to manage themselves and offload computing power and decision making off the cloud. Upcoming cloud technologies such as serverless will make edge devices more ubiquitous. Many cloud providers now take away the underlying infrastructure management and let developers only worry about app logic.  

While these devices’ proliferation is set to take off in a big way, security remains a key concern. IT managers struggle to find out how devices connect to their networks, what data they are collecting, and how it leaves their networks open to vulnerability. With automation technologies rapidly evolving, it would be easier to scan for unidentified devices and threats but still leaves the door open for authorized devices with malicious intent.

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