It is time to move toward a better normal. How are we seeing technology trends coming together in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic? Some new research points to interesting trends.

For 10 months, tech departments have been in a reactive mode to making decisions. Systems and technologies had to be implemented to enable businesses to function. But now it is time to look forward. It is time to start planning for what is on the horizon for our businesses in the next year, two years, and even five years, or maybe to infinity and beyond. (quoting Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase for a moment). We simply need to look to the future more optimistically and with fervor.

Deloitte, for instance, released its 2021 Tech Trends Report, which shows the big nine technology trends that will likely continue to transform business in the next 18-24 months. The nine trends fall into three big categories.

Looking at the first—the heart of the enterprise—many companies will align organizational and technological strategy in the center of the business. The big takeaway here is that every component of an enterprise is complex, but imperative for success. The three trends to watch here include:

  • As business and technology strategy become inseparable, technology choices will bear a bigger role in enabling organization strategy.
  • As the C-suite views technology modernization as an imperative to enable strategic change, pioneering IT leaders are embracing new approaches, technology, and business cases.
  • No big surprise here: many companies are using technologies, data, and cobots to transform the supply chain.

The second area focus—a better experience, inside and out—shows companies are looking to merge the future of digital and physical experience to drive more value. The trends here are:

  • Organizations are recognizing the desired human experience strikes a balance between making traditional physical human experiences more digital, and digital experiences more physical.
  • The digital workplace is a shift in the way work gets done, as organizations are embracing technology to optimize productivity, collaboration, and employee experience.
  • Organizations have access to tools to support their DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives across the talent lifecycle. The tools seek to make DEI decision making and processes more data driven.

Finally, we observe the prediction of the third area—data: the art of the possible—will show human capacity can be augmented at scale if enterprises can move toward automation and machine-led decision making. Here we see opportunities for how to realize more value with industrialization and automation, including:

  • The era of MLOps—the application of engineering discipline to automate machine learning model development, maintenance, and delivery. This will shorten developing lifecycles and industrialize AI (artificial intelligence).
  • The machine data revolution, which will achieve the benefits and scale of AI and MLOps. The report shows data must be tuned for native machine consumption, causing organizations to rethink data management, capture, and organization.
  • A zero-trust cybersecurity posture provides the opportunity to create a more robust and resilient security, while improving end-user experience and enabling more modern IT practices.

It’s essential that we take the time to look forward here. I would add we are likely going to see more companies reviewing ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance from the previous year and taking a close look at progress toward existing goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an interesting impact on these goals as well. In my book, Sustainable in a Circular World, I highlight a number of examples how companies are meeting or exceeding ESG goals and have more thoughts over on www.sustainablecircularworld.com.

What are your thoughts? How are we seeing technology trends coming together in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic? What do you believe comes next?

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