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Top 5 Technology Trends that Enterprise CIOs Must Pay Attention To

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of an enterprise is the technology strategist of the organization with the responsibility of overseeing the IT department's resources and staff. A CIO is responsible for making executive decisions regarding improving current processes, making technology-driven upgrades, and tools for performance enhancement.

Understandably, enterprise CIOs must pay attention to the rapidly evolving technology. But in the year 2020, it was not just the top technologies that evolved. A lot changed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic made the IT department assume a central role in enabling employee performance in the so-called 'New Normal'.

Without much ado, let’s delve into where security budgets are going, or should go, next year? Here’s our roundup

As per a report by McKinsey, the pandemic led to the widespread adoption of digital technologies at both the organizational and industry levels. The participants of the study revealed that almost 80% of their customer interactions have now been digital in nature.

Obviously, this changing behavior makes it imperative for enterprise CIOs to keep an eye on technology advancements so that they can shape company-wide processes accordingly and make informed decisions.

In this article, let’s discuss the top 5 technology trends that could dominate 2021.

1) 5G technology

All the hype surrounding 5G technology is expected to come to fruition in 2021. Since the pandemic has shifted so many processes online, the widespread implementation of 5G will be greatly welcomed. Digital collaborations, remote work, and videoconferencing will be greatly benefited from boosted speed.

Along with digital communications, the biggest beneficiary of 5G will be solutions built around the Internet of Things (IoT) that tap into the faster speeds, reduced latency, and improved availability. With more 5G rollouts expected in 2021, the amount of data is also set to skyrocket as will the need for solutions to analyze and secure this large amount of data. Although we are already using IoT devices in our homes, it is only the beginning. As per some reports, there will be 50 billion IoT devices in use by the year 2030, driven by the rise of 5G.

  • Industry-specific use cases of 5G technology –

  • Healthcare – In the healthcare sector, 5G can enable doctors and patients to stay easily connected. This technology is capable of giving a significant boost to telehealth and telehealth-based applications. 5G will also drive up applications utilizing wearable devices.
  • Retail – Future retail stores will use 5G to manage inventory and stocks in real-time while allowing consumers to add items to a virtual cart.
  • Manufacturing – 5G in convergence with AI and IoT will massively improve predictive maintenance for manufacturing plants by leveraging real-time data capture capabilities. It will help control costs and minimize downtime.
  • Automotive – In the automotive industry, autonomous vehicles are among the most anticipated applications of 5G. The coming of 5G will allow vehicles to respond to stimuli up to 100-times faster thus making them safer for roads.

2) Robotic process automation

Intelligent automation is revolutionizing the business sector by shaking up how things get done. An important aspect of intelligent automation is robotic process automation or RPA.

RPA allows software robots or bots to automate repetitive, mundane, and standardized human tasks, in turn freeing up valuable resources. Although a relatively established technology, RPA is gaining a lot of traction as workflows and business processes digitize in the wake of the “work from home” wave. RPA is automating manual and repeatable jobs by interpreting applications, processing transactions, handling data, and even replying to emails.

In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has further boosted investments in an array of automated solutions like RPA, AI, and ML.As per a recent report, almost 9 in 10 companies decided to adopt RPA in 2020 to increase operational efficiency. During the last 12 months, RPA budgets have increased by 9%.

So, in the new year as well, more companies are predicted to implement RPA to automate repetitive tasks. It will not only strengthen operational efficiency but also improve the employee experience.

As per McKinsey, about 60% of occupations can be partially automated using RPA. So, as a CIO, RPA can be a key technology trend to watch out for in 2021.

  • Industry-specific benefits of RPA –

  • Finance – In the finance industry, RPA can be used to vet new suppliers based on their full reports on credit score, tax data, etc. It can also play a role in the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable functions by automating specific tasks.
  • Healthcare –The healthcare sector can utilize RPA to simplify patient appointment scheduling and assess patient data as well.
  • Energy –Energy companies can utilize RPA to improve the customer experience by accelerating responses to common queries, manage utility-related transactions, validate meter readings, and reduce human error.
  • Manufacturing –RPA can be used by manufacturing businesses to aid in material requests, order fulfillment, or shipping processes on the production floor.

  • Education –The education sector can benefit from RPA by utilizing it in the enrollment process to check application forms, validate documents, and even assess student eligibility for specific programs.
  • Government –Even government agencies are looking at employing RPA tools to reduce backlogs, improve throughput, and optimize compliance.

3) Internet of behavior

Internet of behaviors (IoB) is an upcoming trend that we could hear more of in 2021. IoB is an extension of IoT that involves leveraging data to influence actions and behaviors through feedback loops.

As part of their strategic predictions, Gartner announced that IoB will become more common in the coming years, and by the year 2023, individual activities of around 40% of the global population will be digitally tracked to influence behavior. Marketing and sales seem likely to be prime use-cases.

Some other avenues where data reaped from IoT can be used include -

  • Testing the effectiveness of commercial or non-profit campaigns.
  • Measuring the activation and engagement efforts of patients by healthcare providers.
  • Personalizing content and affecting laws by policymakers.

4) Smart work-from-home technologies

2021 will be crucial for the evolution of smart work-from-home technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way businesses operate. After an initial period of experimentation, businesses soon got used to the new normal.

There was even an increase in employee productivity. As per a recent survey, about 49% of IT professionals felt that employee productivity had increased at their company since the start of remote work.

A widespread acceptance of work-from-home arrangements means that 2021 would be about developing smart technologies that facilitate remote working. This year saw a widespread deployment of tools like WebEx, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Smart tools for video calling, instant communication, and project management are likely to continue growing in 2021. Technologies like the Cloud as well as specific tools for communication, collaboration, security, and employee support will continue to gain ground in 2021.

5) Cybersecurity mesh

Cybersecurity will remain a trending technology since we constantly face new threats from hackers and malicious actors. The latest successful hack on cybersecurity company SolarWinds and the subsequent attack on several key US Federal Government systems showed just how accomplished the hackers are and just how vulnerable enterprise security systems.

Among the latest evolution in cybersecurity is cybersecurity mesh. As per Gartner, the cybersecurity mesh could be among the biggest technology trends in 2021.

A cybersecurity mesh involves designing an IT security infrastructure that focuses on establishing smaller, individual perimeters around all nodes of an IT network instead of a single perimeter. By using a cybersecurity mesh, one can get to any digital security asset irrespective of its location.

The rise of the remote workforce and cloud technology has made it necessary to secure company assets located remotely. The cybersecurity mesh can assist organizations to cover resources beyond the company's border.

Although we only covered five technology trends here, this list can go on. Come next year, we could also see CIOs focusing on technology trends like hybrid cloud, quantum computing, ethical AI, total experience, micro-mobility, and e-learning. The aim will, as always, be to leverage technology to deliver great business outcomes.

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