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Influencers Tech insights for 2021

As we prepare for 2021, we can look back to the past year - and all the change and disruption that came with it - to determine the transformative role that technology has played for businesses. With digitisation occurring in all aspects of daily life - from remote teams to Zoom pub quizzes - we asked our community of experts what technology trends they expect to see in the new year.

The rise of remote working

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One of the biggest changes to both business operations and general day-to-day life in 2020 has been the widespread shift to working from home, mainly to comply with social distancing and other restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But remote working could continue to be the norm for businesses even after restrictions have been lifted - increased flexibility for employees and savings on costs for businesses will be the main motivators for implementing a hybrid work-from-home policy. Frank Jennings (@thecloudlawyer) points out that “plenty have got used to WFH, no commute, better tech. I think WFH will be on offer much more than before as part of modern, flexible working practices.”

Teams will need to build skills around communication, management, teamwork and autonomy. Giuliano Liguori (@ingliguori) advises that businesses with remote teams “should invest in coaching plans in order to develop more resilient workforces and improve skills” that will ensure a productive, collaborative environment even from a distance. Training and awareness programmes for cybersecurity and data protection are also expected to ramp up as pointed out by Ellie Hurst (@IM_Advent_Comms).

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Changing roles for IT managers

Cybersecurity and data protection will remain major challenges for businesses and will likely be exacerbated as employees and businesses increasingly operate remotely. Shadow IT - tech and tools used by employees without the knowledge or approval of IT departments - will likely bring new challenges to security and require specific training and guidelines from businesses.

The fast-changing landscape of cybersecurity threats, along with the scope and usage of technology, will also transform the role of IT Managers. Rafael Bloom (@rafibloom73) points out that “'Digital Services Manager' might be more accurate today with the Cloud and SaaS having eliminated many IT tasks.” Focus will shift towards providing support for remote workers and implementing cybersecurity measures, meaning that IT Managers will soon be taking on a crucial role in supporting remote organisations.

Systems shifting from on-premise use (think desktops, thin clients) to off-premise (laptops, tablets) necessitate IT departments to invest in new systems that need a revised security configuration; tougher authentication policies, increases in monitoring and auditing capabilities and more. With the hybrid WFH mode these systems also need to be adaptable to both home and office use, so the investment must be carefully balanced, from a productivity and cost-effectiveness standpoint. The nature of trust has changed through WFH, needing a balance of appropriate non-intrusive productivity monitoring, and ensuring employees continue to feel trusted while remote working.

Artificial intelligence and cyber security

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be an asset to cybersecurity in 2021 - with teams physically spread out, businesses will be more reliant on automation and machine learning to implement cybersecurity and data privacy measures, especially as they need to access corporate networks. However, Solutions Marketing Director Nigel Tozer (@NigelTozer) also notes that AI could be used against businesses in cyber-attacks - “Cyber Criminals are now much more advanced than they used to be, & their tools will only get better. As more companies deploy AI defences, attackers will also use AI.”

A number of other tools and processes will be used alongside AI to mitigate cybersecurity risks. Hubgets Co-founder Elena Carstoiu recommends implementing Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions that allow businesses to be “location-agnostic” and guarantees secure access regardless of location, applications, or devices - especially important as we see more and more teams working remotely.

Artificial Intelligence will continue to be a key player in 2021, alongside the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and the Cloud. Nigel Tozer predicts that “you can certainly expect renewed fights for privacy where Artificial Intelligence is concerned”, especially around facial recognition technology. On the other hand, ISP Connect (@ispconnect) says that AI hasn’t reached its full potential - “It’s improving, but 2021 will not be the year of the big breakthrough yet.”

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The future of the Technology

Alongside the increase in work from home policies and developments in technology, IT budgets are also expected to rise in the upcoming year. Ramsac Managing Director Rob May (@robmay70) expects that IT budgets will be increased in order to invest in “new technology projects around efficiency, productivity, cybersecurity, and support for remote workforces”. With so much more business activity taking place online day-to-day, IT budgets must be adjusted to support all the different aspects of this digital transformation.

Aside from artificial intelligence’s future role in cybersecurity, and an expected (and welcomed) increase in IT budgets, 2021 will bring in new and rising trends in technology. Roland Broch (@rolandbroch) expects to see “hyper automation”, the integration of AI and machine learning into end-to-end automation - even automating the automation. Rafael Bloom (@rafibloom73) predicts that trust will become “a valuable, provable commodity - thinking about fake news, online harms, invisible data processing, etc.”, while Rob May (@robmay70) expects to see the focus on cybersecurity continue to rise - and perhaps develop into “CyberResilience”.

While not all the above predictions may come true - and we may even see a few surprises – we are the trusted advisors and enablers who support businesses and their own digital transformation. Whether it’s AI, Cybersecurity or other advances in Technology, Kingston is with you no matter what you do, working to support your business needs.


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