Many businesses across the technology sector spent 2020 demonstrating that they were financially ‘pandemic proof’. This position has been strengthened given that Coronavirus has accelerated an overall shift towards digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence, thereby driving up demand for technology businesses’ services. Capability is increasing rapidly, 5G rollout will continue at pace next year, and more and more businesses and consumers are turning to technology for convenience, financial gains and sustainability.
So, against this backdrop, what will 2021 hold for the technology sector? Below we explore three key themes that are likely to emerge.
1. Accelerating the development of Smart Cities
One lasting impact of Coronavirus will be the impact on our cities. Many office workers will not return to their offices full time and some will never return there again. Businesses are instead embracing remote and agile working to reduce costs and widen the available talent pool beyond those that live locally. At the same time, High Streets will not be the same again, with the pandemic quickening the shift to online retail.
People will want different things from cities, and smart technology will continue to change consumer habits and business opportunity. Data collected from smart, sometimes driverless, cars and the transport grid can help prevent gridlock but it also creates opportunities for businesses on the ground. Artificial intelligence gives more information on peaks (and troughs?) and allows businesses to manage resource and consider their pricing models accordingly.
2. Understanding changes in behaviours
Plenty of information on changing trends will emerge, both as the impact of the pandemic evolves but also as we trend towards normality. More of what we do will be done online and we expect to see the emergence of software and ideas that cater for this shift. Greater connectivity and download speeds resulting from the 5G rollout will increase the flexibility to shop, work, advertise, recruit, educate and organise from not just any location but also any device. Tools which can continue to encourage collaboration and diversity of ideas will emerge, and cybersecurity will need to continue to evolve with this changing landscape.
As more smart devices collect more information, our behaviours become easier to track and therefore to incentivise change through reward. For example, health insurance providers already incentivise tracking physical activity and the buying of healthy foods. Smart technology will allow for our driving styles to be tracked which will be of interest to vehicle insurers, while the benefits of knowledge about how and where consumers want to use their spare time are clear.
3. Advancement of sustainable technology
The threat of climate change has been a significant risk to the future economy for years, but the disastrous effects of the pandemic will mean that greater emphasis is placed on solutions that are sustainable going forward. This will be supported by increased political emphasis as the UK Government continues to set more ambitious targets [MONITOR JOHNSON SPEECH UPCOMING ON THIS] and the impact of the Biden Administration in USA.
Technology allows natural energy to be captured and stored but also helps to ensure energy is used efficiently, such as through ‘learning’ smart thermostats and vehicle-to-grid electricity storage, a technology that enables energy to be pushed back to the power grid from the battery of an electric car. Emerging technologies will further this theme and businesses will continue to seek to mitigate risk caused by climate change and to reduce carbon emissions in supply chains.
How can we help?
We work with technology businesses from start-ups to international corporates offering strategic advice, planning for change and support compliance requirements.
If you would like to discuss any of the above, please contact David Hough using the details on this page.
You can also visit our Technology Hub for more information and insights.