Blog Posts Process Analysis Process Management

14 tech predictions for 2021 and beyond

Blog: The Enterprise Project - Enterprise Technology

One lesson we’ll all take away from 2020: predicting the future is tricky. Factors outside your control can significantly impact your plans – either propelling you forward, or knocking you off course. Those who can adapt easily are often better off than those who can predict the most accurately.

Many organizations had to shift their plans in 2020, but those IT leaders already operating with a digital-first mindset were in a better position to pivot and rise to the challenges, said Jan Gilg, President of SAP S/4HANA at SAP.

“The coronavirus pushed last year’s predictions way off track, becoming a critical driver behind IT trends in 2020.”

“The coronavirus pushed last year’s predictions way off track, becoming a critical driver behind IT trends in 2020,” said Gilg. “For 2021, COVID-19 continues to be a central story and a galvanizing force behind this year’s forecast. Digital companies had clear advantages in 2020, and in 2021 those with a strong digital plan will have the flexibility to pivot as needed. What’s exciting is that the appetite for digitization is larger than ever before, and the desire for digital, intelligent environments will lead to transformations happening at rates faster than we have ever experienced.”  

To achieve speed, companies need to resuce complexity, which is why  Red Hat chief architect Emily Brand also sees more enterprises emphasizing the principles of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE.) “More enterprises are focused on SRE as a way to reduce toil through smart, targeted automation,” Brand recently told us. “Choosing to invest in high-value automation with the least complexity will be the focus for most infrastructure and ops teams in 2021. Automating yesterday’s problems was yesterday’s problem. Automating tomorrow’s growth is today’s future.”

What are digital leaders setting their sights on for the year ahead? Let’s dig into predictions for 2021.

[ What’s next for containers and Kubernetes? Read also: 5 open source Kubernetes projects to watch in 2021. ]

1. No speed limit on innovation

“Thought developer-first was big? It is just getting started. The world of dev tools, infrastructure and open source software moved faster in 2020, and in 2021 we will only see it accelerate. New projects and categories will gain traction and go mainstream faster than ever before. Bellwether projects that seemed to be gliding along with momentum may become passe. This is a developer’s world now and the speed limits that used to hold back innovation and adoption are gone.” -Eric Anderson, Principal, Scale Venture Partners

2. Consolidation cools

“The pendulum of tooling consolidation will peak in 2021 before swinging back towards fragmentation. COVID-19 forced businesses to consolidate tech — see cloud migrations — in an effort to cut costs and ensure ease-of-use in remote environments. I predict the pendulum of tooling consolidation to peak in 2021 before swinging back to companies purchasing tools from several different providers that offer ‘disruptive’ technologies.” – Brian Fox, CTO and co-founder, Sonatype

3. Growth of anywhere operations

“Organizations will continue to operate remotely in 2021, enabling a ‘digital-first, remote-first’ mentality. ‘Anywhere operations’ models remain vital to emerge successfully from COVID-19. While the ability to vaccinate this soon into a pandemic is promising, millions won’t have access to it until the second half of the year. Cloud-based systems that securely centralize customer information and internal tools are just an example of anywhere operations that will allow for business to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere — where customers, employers and business partners operate in physically remote environments — while we continue to operate in a normal that isn’t so new anymore.” – Mike Ringman, CIO, TELUS International

[ How do your team meetings stack up? Read also:  Zoom tips: 6 ways to make meetings better. ]

4. Healthcare targeted for cybercrime

“The biggest threat to personal privacy will be healthcare information. Researchers are rushing to pool resources and data sets to tackle the pandemic, but this new era of openness comes with concerns around privacy, ownership, and ethics. Now, you will be asked to share your medical status and contact information, not just with your doctors, but everywhere you go, from workplaces to gyms to restaurants. Your personal health information is being put in the hands of businesses that may not know how to safeguard it. In 2021, cybercriminals will capitalize on rapid U.S. telehealth adoption. Sharing this information will have major privacy implications that span beyond keeping medical data safe from cybercriminals to wider ethics issues and insurance implications.” – Joe Partlow, CTO, ReliaQuest

5. Automation used in new ways post-COVID

“2020 has brought in constraints in human-to-human interaction due to unforeseen health concerns, which has rocked the foundations of human interaction prior to COVID-19. Contactless and touchless mechanisms of consumer and employee interaction will therefore gain more adoption in 2021. This trend extends the application of automation technologies to the areas requiring human-to-human contact which can refine the overall customer experience. It also serves as a catalyst expediting the automation of repetitive and routine tasks within and across the extended network of enterprises. Automation is meant for times like these.” – E.G. Nadhan, chief architect and strategist, North America, Red Hat.

[ How can automation free up more staff time for innovation? Get the free eBook: Managing IT with Automation. ] 

6. Focus on consumer transparency

“In 2021, transparency rules the day. Consumers currently appreciate it, but soon they will come to expect it. No longer will consumers take a company’s word for it: when it comes to billing, voting, healthcare, and government processes, customers want to see their forms being submitted and approved. While paper processes continue to be necessary, digital access from mobile accounts or CRM tools will become increasingly popular. This functionality is rapidly becoming standard as companies reengineer how they interface with customers, especially in the healthcare and government verticals.” – Scott Francis, technology evangelist, Fujitsu

7. Continuous evaluation of virtual collaboration 

“As remote work has become a mainstay of doing business, ITOps should work with their company’s CTO and CSO to offer the right mix of collaboration tools for employees. Remote work will continue to add stress for employees, and it’s the company’s job to provide a framework of respect for the home situations of their employees and the tools/resources they need to be successful, such as video conferencing platforms, Google Drive, and Slack. In addition, ITOps teams should regularly evaluate the performance of their organization’s communication and collaboration tools to ensure employees can maintain their productivity levels while working remotely.” – Marc Linster, CTO, EDB

Let’s look at seven more key trends to have on your radar screen:

8. No-Code usage rising

“The pandemic caused just about every organization to tighten their belts and focus on the fundamentals. This led to canceled IT projects and business units being left to fend for themselves to solve emerging problems like the management of a remote workforce. During the same period, low or no-code platforms became available to fill in the gaps, shifting the responsibility for app development from expensive programmers and engineers to business subject matter experts. These citizen developers are now realizing the power they wield, and they aren’t about to give it up without a fight. In 2021 and beyond, no-code platforms will enable regular Joes to solve their own business problems through application development. By the end of 2022, their output will outpace that of the traditional IT teams. To maximize the effectiveness of this new breed of ‘developers,’ we see a heightened focus in 2021 on training and implementing system standards to ensure compliance as these applications proliferate. Companies that have IT and the business teams working together effectively on digital transformation efforts will thrive, while those who don’t will see their IT teams regress into firefighting mode.” – Josh Caid, Chief Evangelist, Cherwell Software

9. Humanizing the virtual experience

“With video meetings taking hold in the new norm, many employees are experiencing concentration fatigue due to the lack of physical proximity, difficult-to-read body language and reduction in visual and audio cues in these meetings. We will see major developments in humanizing the virtual meeting experience in 2021. As businesses work to humanize the virtual experience in 2021, we’ll see major developments in edge AI working with cloud-based AI ecosystems to deliver deeper virtual collaboration experiences. Combining exceptional audio and video quality with AI will allow for far more life-like virtual experiences and further reduce concentration fatigue.” – Holger Reisinger, SVP, Jabra

10. COVID accelerates the value of the edge

“Networks have never been more critical than they are right now. Business, education, telemedicine, and social have all moved from engaging in person to engaging virtually, and multi-participant video calls have become a fundamental part of our daily lives. Massive consumption of streaming media and an all-time high in online gaming have driven content delivery network growth. Service providers have responded fast to manage the surge in traffic while avoiding lagging, downgraded quality, and slower speeds. Next year, we’ll see service providers double down on investments in edge cloud, moving applications and data closer to users and connected devices to enhance the user and application experience, support new emerging low-latency applications, and make more efficient use of network transit capacity.” – Sally Bament, vice president of cloud service provider marketing, Juniper Networks

[ Want to learn more about implementing edge computing? Read the blog: How to  implement edge infrastructure in a maintainable and scalable way. ]

11. The rise of the new CEO—Chief Empathy Officer

“The need for empathy has never been more important than it is today. Empathy will become a determining factor in whether your company is perceived as a customer-centric organization, or not. And it starts with a new kind of CEO — the Chief Empathy Officer. This is not a new, standalone role to add to the C-suite, but a characteristic the leadership team must possess; a charter they must steward. The business challenges brought about in 2020 have made it clear that company leaders need to go all in on empathy — they must tap into the human perspective to help them make customer-informed decisions, they must see the world from their customer’s perspective. Empathy might sound like a fluffy word, but it will be what sets apart the leaders from the laggards in 2021 — and it starts with a new kind of leadership: empathetic and understanding towards its customers.” – Andy MacMillan, CEO, UserTesting

12. Immersive AR brings buying experiences to life

“Companies will need immersive augmented reality (AR) to bring their buying experiences to life. This pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses around the world. It changed consumers’ shopping behaviors and the way they consider and purchase goods and services. The pandemic may be responsible for accelerating the pace of AR adoption. For eCommerce and real estate industries especially, a high quality AR experience is a must; consumers want to be able to see/visualize how the product looks within the environment, and AR offers the next best thing to in-person viewing. While the AR experience is not designed to replace the in-store experience, it is set to enhance it. The expectation of great AR experiences has never been higher.” – Andy MacMillan, CEO, UserTesting

13. Rise of cognitive AI

Cognitive AI technologies will see rapid growth and improvements in the coming years to become more agile, flexible, and intelligent when deployed across a variety of new industries. By unifying machine learning techniques with encoded human knowledge, Cognitive AI advancements will allow users to add to and edit its knowledge base once deployed, and as they do so, the systems will become significantly more flexible and intelligent as it learns by interacting with more domain experts, problems, and data. Eventually, AI systems will be able to identify if decision-makers implemented or declined its recommended actions, if the action taken did what it was supposed to do, and if the system was able to learn from that remediation action.” – Kim Gilbert, PhD, Manager Technical Commercial Engineering, Beyond Limits

14. Success hinges on people strategy

“While IT leaders have routinely increased their tech investments with an eye toward more speed and efficiency, COVID-19 only accelerated this momentum by exposing organizations’ inherent weaknesses when confronted with sudden workforce shifts. Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, it’s not necessarily the technology itself that will make the biggest impact on a company’s success, but rather how well organizations deploy and manage their digital solutions. In short, the success of a digital strategy hinges on the organization’s larger people strategy: recruiting, retaining and reinventing the right talent to manage their technology investments.” – Rocky Subramanian, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, SAP

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Primary Image: 

tech predictions 2021

Article Type: 


IT and tech leaders look at the road ahead and predict what’s next for remote work, AI, cybersecurity, and more


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Leave a Comment

Get the BPI Web Feed

Using the HTML code below, you can display this Business Process Incubator page content with the current filter and sorting inside your web site for FREE.

Copy/Paste this code in your website html code:

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="auto" width="100%" height="700">

Customizing your BPI Web Feed

You can click on the Get the BPI Web Feed link on any of our page to create the best possible feed for your site. Here are a few tips to customize your BPI Web Feed.

Customizing the Content Filter
On any page, you can add filter criteria using the MORE FILTERS interface:

Customizing the Content Filter

Customizing the Content Sorting
Clicking on the sorting options will also change the way your BPI Web Feed will be ordered on your site:

Get the BPI Web Feed

Some integration examples