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It’s that time of year when…

It’s that time of year when…

Posted on 18th January 2021

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… everyone starts to make predictions about the tech trends that we’ll see in the new year.  Unsurprisingly (or perhaps it is a surprise, given that we all bang on about how quickly tech changes things), for quite a few years now, these predictions have all been much of a muchness. AI has featured heavily, as have the cloud, automation and robotics, self-driving cars and the IoT.  However, having had a quick perusal of a range of different online opinions last December, while the usual suspects are still in vogue (although self-driving cars appear to be going backwards, if you’ll pardon the pun), there are a few new items that have been forced upon us by the pandemic.  Here are some of my favourites.

Let’s start with ‘human experience and productivity’ – something that might be considered a double-edged sword by some.  With the change to more WFH, technology to keep employees engaged and productive is, on the face of it, a good thing, but there are concerns that it may lead to an excessive degree of surveillance and infringements of personal liberty in the hands of unscrupulous bosses.  From tracking keystrokes to video monitoring, there is potential for harm here, but properly used (as, in fact, we do at Be-IT), there it is perfectly possible to increase productivity and keep Big Brother at bay. The idea of an anywhere-plus-office hybrid work environment is going to continue to gain ground, even once we are all vaccinated.  

In addition, with the expected increase in the use of tech all-round the issue of security is going to become ever more important.  The concept of Zero Trust security is one that will continue to grow in importance next year. Tied in with this will, I am confident, be a rising demand for Ethical AI to take centre stage.  Interestingly, Nobel prize-winner Sir Roger Penrose believes that we really don’t have too much to fear from AI, noting that scientists keep pushing back the date at which AI will become self-aware because, “the inability of machines to abstract (to the same level as humans) doesn’t’ bode well for the prospect of their surprising us with original insights.

The one other thing that caught my eye amongst the flurry of 2021 predictions is the move to hyperlocal businesses.  Big and small companies alike can take advantage of local markets in ways that hitherto seemed too hard to manage.  The huge growth of online sales by local food producers, fish merchants, cafes, bars restaurants will continue, driven, no doubt, by the constant advertising of Just Eat.  Here, the aforementioned Zero Trust security will be important in giving consumers confidence that they can safely interact with these new suppliers.

And finally, the oldest member of our marketing team recalls a conversation last century at The Scotsman newspaper, in which an executive suggested that in the future we’d be buying a plastic sleeve filled with some sort of gel which had the means to be unfolded like a conventional paper but with the news being updated by some electronic means so that each page could be read and updated during the days and weeks.  Tablets, of course, put paid to that idea, but it’s interesting to see that rollable smartphones are now an up-and-coming technology.  For Apple et al, the challenge of persuading everyone to upgrade annually to the latest rectangle of plastic and glass every year - and to hand over £1,000 for the privilege. Instead, the smartphone makers are experimenting with radical new designs and LG and Oppo have developed rollable screens which can unfurl to show even more of your favourite apps. This, in some ways, mimics that Scotsman executive’s idea, but in a phone-sized format it is probably too similar to current smartphones.  Nonetheless, these devices are expected to come ot the market in the first half of this year (although don’t expect them to be cheap!). 

The good news in all this is, of course, that tech is now steam-rollering ahead and will be in the vanguard of the economic boom that is (I trust) going to come once we’re all vaccinated.  And that, from a purely personal and biased point of view, is good news for IT recruiters!

Scott Bentley, Be-IT

Posted in News, Opinion

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