Top 7 Technology Trends 2021:
- AI and Machine Learning
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
- Edge Computing
- Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Nobody needs to be reminded that technology is moving faster than ever. The proof is everywhere. Progress, change, and disruption are occurring regularly. It’s wonderful to see, while at the same time exhausting and perhaps even unnerving. But the rolling stone of technology continues to accelerate. This article lists some of the new technology trends of 2021 to keep an eye on.
Now, perhaps more than ever, is a time to stay informed on tech trends. Doing so will give you an advantage as we all continue forward into the future. For one, this information helps you identify what skills will most likely translate to job security. It will help you adapt to our ever-changing world and to take advantage of professional opportunities.
Check out these two really good resources on why it’s important to know technology trends:
Now, let’s get into it.
1. AI and Machine Learning
AI (artificial intelligence) isn’t a new concept. But with 5G on the horizon, AI talk has heated up (we address 5G below, under heading 7). We used to view this technology only as futuristic. Science fiction films from every era have portrayed visions of what AI might look like. But now, the real-time response and hyper-connectivity of 5G is adding a new spark to all the AI advances to date, giving us tangible glimpses of how artificial intelligence can affect our personal and professional lives, even though 5G is still in an early stage.
Even before 5G began to emerge, AI had lots of buzz – particularly in the last ten years. Breakthroughs in ride-sharing apps, smartphone personal assistants, navigation apps, and speech and image recognition (to name only a few) have all implemented aspects of AI.
This year, we can expect AI development to follow its current path – that is, being used to analyze and predict information. In other words, decision-making. It’s currently being implemented in a variety of industries to better predict demand, resource utilization, and behavioral patterns. As AI gets closer to real-time data analysis (as it certainly will in 2021), personalized needs will be met faster which means revenues will increase.
Some experts predict that this year alone will see AI global spending approach $60 billion and that by 2025, AI will be a near-$200 billion industry. As the influence of this revolutionary technology spreads across the world, new jobs such as maintenance, support, testing, programming, and development will certainly be created (to name only a few). The salaries for these positions are already enviable, averaging between $125,000-$145,000 per year. This alone puts it at or near the top of new technology trends for 2021.
Important To Know
The subset of AI is machine learning. It’s already being deployed in many industries. Skilled professionals in this field are in high demand. One authority predicts that all new American jobs created by 2025 will be AI-related, particularly automation and machine learning. This will include jobs like content curation, automation specialist, data scientist, robot monitoring professional, and many more.
2. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA is automating many jobs, much like AI and machine learning. RPA is “the use of software to automate business processes such as interpreting applications, processing transactions, dealing with data, and even replying to emails” (simplilearn.com). Essentially, repetitive tasks traditionally performed by human beings are automated by RPA.
Many people are concerned about RPA eliminating jobs and putting people out of work. Projections do suggest that at some point in the future, around 230 million jobs will be threatened at the hand of RPA. That’s almost 10% of the global workforce. However, a quick glance at history shows that virtually every disruptive technological advancement has resulted in a net positive economic impact, even on the job front. Jobs are replaced, not solely eliminated. It’s also worth noting that less than 5% of occupations can even be automated, according to estimates, while around 60% can be partially automated.
If you’re a forward-thinking IT professional keeping up to speed with the technology trends of 2021, then you know that RPA may soon be the most opportunity-rich job market. Careers such as consultant, solution architect, business analyst, project manager, and developer are position titles to keep an eye on. What’s more, these are very high-paying careers; well over $100,000 per year. RPA is without a doubt one of the top technology trends of 2021.
3. Edge Computing
Preceded by cloud computing (which has been a top technology trend of the past few years by way of Google Cloud Platforming, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services), Edge computing is has taken its place as a rising technology trend of 2021.
Despite countless businesses moving to cloud platforms, this type of computing still has shortcomings – particularly latency. These limitations have become clearer as a result of the ever-increasing amounts of data that organizations deal with. Edge computing was conceived to solve these problems. It processes these vast amounts of information via a datacenter, bypassing cloud computing latency. The idea is to process data as close to the computing source as possible; in other words, on the edge, hence the name.
Think of edge computing like a mini data center. There’s no need for a centralized location to process time-sensitive data. With edge computing, it could even be done in a remote location with very little (or no) connectivity.
As IoT (Internet of Things) increases, so will edge computing. Forecasts predict a $6.72 billion edge computing market globally as soon as 2022. Software engineers should be licking their chops at this news, seeing as virtually all of the jobs created will be primarily for them.
4. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
VR and AR have built up a lot of hype, especially with 5G gaining steam (see heading 7). What’s the difference between VR and AR? Here’s the easiest explanation. VR creates and immerses the user in an environment. The environment is then enhanced by AR.
The gaming industry is the clear beneficiary of these technologies, at least initially. But other industries are already utilizing it, as well. For example, the United States Coast Guard, Army, and Navy are implementing VR/AR into their training programs. A simulation software called VirtualShip is already in wide use.
In fact, last year saw VR/AR device sales exceed 14 million units. Predictions indicate that, by 2022, this global market will approach $210 billion. This will most certainly create new opportunities for jobs and other endeavors related to this field.
Without a doubt, this year we’ll see VR and AR reach new heights as it continues to integrate itself into our lives. It almost always works cooperatively with other technologies (some even from this list). In addition to gaming, VR/AR is already finding its way into physical rehabilitation, marketing, education, entertainment, training, and more. Even theme parks and museums are developing new ways to enhance the customer experience with it.
If VR/AR interests you, you’ll be pleased to know that specialized knowledge isn’t typically required to get started. It’s a misconception that an optics skill-set is required to get your foot in the door. One of the main reasons that VR/AR is a top technology trend of 2021 is because basic programming skills and a creative mind are usually enough for you to find work here.
Though most people associate blockchain technology with Bitcoin, its scope stretches far beyond cryptocurrency. The security that this exciting technology offers is incredibly useful and diverse.
The innovation of blockchain tech centers around the fact that you can’t take data away from it. You can only add to it. It’s like a perpetually growing data “chain”, hence the name. And this characteristic is what makes it so secure. It’s also decentralized, meaning it’s impossible for a person or group to take control. Everything is driven by consensus. There is no transaction validation by “trusted” third-party overseers.
Blockchain is already being utilized in a number of industries. Its popularity increases all the time which is great news for skilled professionals. The demand for you will only get stronger. What does a blockchain developer do? Their specialization is the development and implementation of blockchain-powered solutions. And you probably guessed this comment was coming: these jobs pay a lot.
Interested in a blockchain career? The perfect time to start is right now. You’ll need to be versed in networking, web app development, data structures, relational databases, flat databases, OOPS, and programming languages.
6. Internet of Things (IoT)
With each passing year, more and more things are built with the ability to connect to the internet. It’s not just computers and smartphones anymore. Things like cars and home appliances are being transformed into “smart” devices by implementing WiFi connectivity. And if they can connect to the internet, they can connect to each other and exchange data. This is what’s meant by the internet of things.
Chances are you already benefit from IoT in a number of ways. Mobile apps allow you to do things like preheat your oven and lock your doors when you’re away from home. Devices like Fitbits track your fitness goals and personal health. And these are just simple examples. Companies use IoT to collect mass amounts of data and analyze it, increasing efficiency and safety in all areas of their business. It allows for better decision making in areas like customer service, medical care, predictive maintenance, and other ways that haven’t even been thought of yet.
And this is only the beginning for IoT. If current trends continue, more than 50 billion devices worldwide will be connected to the internet by 2030. Automobiles, appliances, smartphones, computers, hearing aids and other medical devices, garage doors – the list of what’s possible is endless. All these devices will be interconnected with the ability to communicate. By 2022, we’ll likely see IoT global spending at $1.1 trillion. The main reason these numbers will climb so quickly is because of 5G.
Anyone interested in getting into this technology trend of 2021 would do well to educate themselves in a number of areas. These areas include device design, embedded systems, automations, data analytics, hardware interfacing, networking, machine learning, AI, and information security.
IoT and 5G go hand-in-hand. 5G is what will accelerate the internet of things to unimaginable places. For years now, 3G and 4G have given us mobile internet browsing, a variety of data-driven services, high-bandwidth streaming (YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, etc), and much more. All of these things could certainly be considered revolutionary at the time they were all made possible. But 5G is something else entirely. It will bring about a revolution on a MUCH larger scale, changing almost every facet of our daily lives. 5G will allow the full potential of advanced technologies (like the previously mentioned VR and AR) to be reached.
Every major telecom company is going peddle-to-the-metal with 5G implementation. Qualcomm, Nokia Corp, Apple, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T – all of them. If all goes as planned, 2021 will be the year when 5G is officially available worldwide. By the end of the year, 50+ operators in roughly 30 countries will be offering 5G services, perhaps making it the biggest technology trend of 2021.
5G systems are already being implemented in places beyond what the telecom networks are doing. Stadiums and factories are already getting their own 5G infrastructures. Retail, grid control, and traffic management are just a few areas where 5G is facilitating improvements.
Top 7 Technology Trends 2021 (Essential Guide) – Conclusion
There are certainly more technology trends than the 7 primary ones we’ve mentioned. Here are two honorable mentions that are absolutely worth knowing about:
- 6 Experts Share Quantum Computing Predictions for 2021
- Quantum Computing 2021: How Will This Tech Fare in the Coming Months?