There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the very nature of the office and accelerated several trends already in motion in the previous years. From a surge in remote-working to the increasing focus on privacy, there have been many changes in how businesses operate. Amidst all that has happened in the last year, here are the five key trends your business absolutely can’t ignore in 2021.
Internet of Behavior
The Internet of Behavior (IoB) refers to data and technology to alter human behavior. While this very description may make it sound draconian and manipulative, this technology has played a key role in coordinating the public response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Take thermal sensors, for example, which were used to identify sick individuals out in public. Even the humble video monitor, which was used to monitor mask-wearing, falls under this ecosystem. The health-tech and insurance industries, in particular, are expected to invest greatly in this technology in the coming years.
While the COVID-19 pandemic and a rising political divide dominated newspaper headlines in 2020, news related to the worsening environmental crisis had often slipped under the tracks. Instead of waiting for governments to take action, tech giants have taken matters into their own hands, leaving us a little more optimistic about the future of our planet. Microsoft has pledged to go carbon-negative in the coming years, and other leading companies such as Intuit, Intel, and Quickbooks have joined the initiative as well. Both shareholders and stakeholders expect more from businesses in reducing their ecological impact.
Fighting Toxic Behavior Online
Trolling, cyber behavior, and other toxic behaviors by individuals using social media websites have increasingly been under scrutiny from both businesses and government authorities in the last year. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, which manufacture most gaming consoles in the market, are working together to fight toxic behavior by their users. While these companies are working hard to maintain the balance between free speech and the protection of their customers, they may benefit from developments in artificial intelligence (AI), which are showing great promise in the mass censorship of offensive speech.
Hyperautomation refers to simplifying, digitizing, and streamlining organizational processes to be automatically handled through software. The developments in this technology rely on the principles of machine learning, which are easier to implement for repetitive and predictable tasks. While this has raised concerns about mass unemployment, companies focused on embedding this trend in their strategic vision believe it will help re-allocate employees to more valuable roles.
Normalization of Remote Work
If you thought remote-working would end as soon as the pandemic fades away from our collective memories, think again. As many as 80% of company leaders plan to continue using this structure, most employees in America are on board with this trend. While the office is not going anywhere, companies are likely to be much more flexible in allowing alternative working arrangements. To this end, businesses are investing in their IT infrastructure to support employees working remotely.