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The top 2021 IT trends

every UK business should look out for

2020 has been a year of turbulent changes and yet a scene of powerful transformation. The extreme events of the Coronavirus pandemic will no doubt shape the way companies operate for many years to come. Adapting and speeding up digital solutions as a replacement for the traditional way of operating has moved up from the bottom of the meeting agenda and exceeded all expectations. In light of this, businesses urgently need to adjust their continuity plans to face the challenges brought on by unforeseen events like Covid-19. According to the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC), more than four in ten UK businesses (42%) saw a fall in turnover over the last 12 months, with a slightly higher proportion of small businesses (43%) seeing a decline compared with medium ones (41%).

As such, does the question still remain about how to address the ever-changing landscape after a year that’s altered our lives for good or have we managed to gain a clearer understanding of our priorities? Should business leaders listen to their fundamental survival instincts to determine the future trends that will influence the upcoming years’ workflow and set the tone for next generations? Will our hunger for normalcy be finally met with satisfaction? What if “business as usual” is forever an alien concept? And, how will all of this be reflected in the IT trends of 2021?

Our surrounding environment is far more fluid than ever and the rise of remote working has certainly blurred the line between work and personal life. However, despite all this, enterprises are now looking into a prosperous future built on simplicity and a digital-first approach – coronavirus has heightened demand. The IT tech-scape and digital technologies have become crucial for businesses across all industries, along with employees having the digital savvy to meet the IT skills shortage.

To navigate through the whirlwind affair that was 2020, TWC IT Solutions has looked into and examined the top emerging 2021 IT trends that will dominate the digital agenda for recovery for this year and beyond.

The top IT trends of 2021 according to two industry experts

One of the most reliable sources when looking to understand market vibes is by asking industry professionals. So that’s what we did – we asked two IT experts to share their insights and predictions with us. Here is what they said:

IT expert #1: Mark Hill, CIO at Tenth Revolution Group

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Mark Hill,

CIO at Tenth Revolution Group

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Other than work from home, in what single way did COVID-19 change IT forever?

“Though digital transformation has been on the up for a while, I think COVID may have been the final nail in the coffin for the physical document and analogue-led processes.

Whilst within our business we’ve been fortunate to be a few steps ahead in digitalising our business processes, a lot of companies haven’t been so lucky. Many have had their hand forced, and have had to take their documents and operations online much more quickly than they were expecting to.

Having documents online has been essential for organisations to share information and simply function as workforces have dispersed. How many employees have printed things out while they’ve been working from home? When your workers are mostly remote, access to physical documents is limited, and the need for hard copies disappears with no one to pass them along to. Gradually the last hold-outs to pen and paper are being converted.”

 

What made this single change so momentous?

“Print and paper have endured across almost all industries and geographies, in most cases, far longer than necessary. Despite increasing digitisation, people have clung on to the perceived safety and reassurance of the physical document for more generations than I care to count.

But COVID and home working may finally have quashed paper’s enduring legacy. In the current circumstances, the idea of ‘digital everything’ has prevailed as the only way forward for modern businesses and institutions.”

 

How might this change or evolve over time?

“The realisation that physical documentation isn’t the be-all and end-all is creating a push to move away from paper-based processing. This movement will scale faster than we ever could’ve predicted pre-COVID, and in part will fuel the next wave of the digital revolution in a multitude of ways, including the democratisation of platforms like mobile and web apps, RPA, and CRM and ERP platforms.

Now that organisations have seen the impact of dragging their heels on digitalisation, we’ll see businesses who might have believed they were too small or not the right type of company to implement tools like CRM, or offer customers a mobile app, utilising these technologies to their benefit.”

IT expert #2: Malte Scholz, CEO & Co-Founder of Airfocus

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Malte Scholz,

CEO and Co-Founder of Airfocus

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“Some of the major IT trends in 2021 will be the combination of technology and other industries. For instance, using technology for ensuring sustainability. Also, cybersecurity will continue to be one of the top priorities for IT leaders. As most businesses move online, the need for strong protection will only increase. 

I believe that the major trend in IT will be the fusion of technology and different businesses. Technology has great power and we already see how influential it can be in fighting for causes or assisting in different types of democratic processes. I believe that the role of tech will become crucial even in the industries that don’t necessarily depend on it at the moment. 

We will probably invest in the IT department as well as marketing. On one hand, a skilled IT department allows us to have a high quality product, whereas the marketing section ensures a lot of people hear about it.”

Emerging IT trend #1: The undeniable popularity of Cloud computing.

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There were predictions back in 2019 about Cloud defining the modern IT architecture in the coming years. Businesses moving towards and investing in Cloud technologies will only continue to increase in 2021. Cloud systems are the key ingredients in many SME disaster recovery or business continuity plans, managing CRM, Unified Communications or Virtual Networks. Moving to the Cloud not only results in reduced business costs, but at the same time improves flexibility of everyday practices and collaboration efficiency for businesses new to the digital era.

Emerging IT trend #2: Cybersecurity remains a top priority.

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Since the pandemic began, businesses globally have fallen victim to waves of cyberattacks; the exposure to cyber criminals is more likely to further expand in 2021. Businesses with less than a thousand employees are targeted at an estimated 61% of the time (FinancesOnline). Despite many companies struggling to cope with the sudden need of adapting to working from home and updating their systems at the beginning of the pandemic, they will opt for a hybrid, partial remote working model instead of returning to their offices, for a whole host of reasons, not least financial. This calls for strengthening of cybersecurity systems, minimising the need to recover from data breaches and maintain business productivity and cost savings therein.

Emerging IT trend #3: Revolutionised digital workplace solutions.

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According to Forrester, remote work will permanently increase to 300% of pre-pandemic levels. As one of the pandemic’s top emerging trends, it has brought along a whole ecosystem of technologies. At first glance, HR Tech is on the rise. When hiring, business leaders and HR lost the chance to conduct face-to-face interviews and the onboarding of successful candidates also had to be completed remotely. Virtual Call Centre solutions, such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco or omni channel solutions like Content Guru or Five9, have gained significant traction. Software unification will continue to play a key role in the modern workplace to save business time and improve business continuity.

Emerging IT trend #4: 5G technology as a digital trendsetter.

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Digital shifts are opening new doors across retail, healthcare, financial services and technology each and every day. A scalable and future-proof internet connection is a powerful tool – introducing 5G. The adaption of the fifth generation of cellular capability will allow faster data transmission and be far more capable of providing support for interconnected smart devices. Business operations can be revolutionised due to the higher connection density, reliable connection, and greater flexibility facilitated by 5G.

Emerging IT trend #5: The future is AI.

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There are certain benefits that have been born from living through the pandemic. It has shone some light on areas of our lives that can profit from technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence. AI has been a hot topic over the years and, as it’s incorporated into many solutions, the SME market will have the chance to take advantage of the different scenarios where it appears. Using technologies integrated with AI has resulted in the appearance of voice assistants and chatbots, creating a seamless customer experience to save business time and budget.

Emerging IT trend #6: Edge to take over Cloud.

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Photo credits: natanaelginting

While the race to get to the Cloud has never been faster, a new computing technology is here to challenge the heir to the throne. Edge computing has been slowly, but surely, taking over the global market and is still predicted to evolve and grow massively in the coming years. Allocating resources into edge-driven investments, and moving computation and storage to the edge network, will speed up performance and resilience across different verticals.

Emerging IT trend #7: Blockchain.

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The list of new trends accelerated by the pandemic is growing by the day. Digital transformation is taking place and many businesses have shown a growing interest in the adaptation of new technologies to enhance their operational procedures. One such movement not previously forecasted is the ever-increasing global blockchain market. Gartner described it as one of the most disruptive technologies in 2020, coming second only to machine learning and artificial intelligence. Blockchain technology can help industries hit the hardest by the Coronavirus to get back on their feet. One of the main advantages of implementing a distributed ledger technology is the advanced protection against cyber hacks. It was built around security to prevent the tampering of information and privacy as all records are individually encrypted, with all network participants agreeing to the validity of each record.

Leading global establishments of the tech and finance industry have also summarised their predictions about the IT trends that will set the digital compass for business in 2021, deepening the understanding of the upcoming industry trends:

Convert the trends into action

With this notoriously historic year behind us, it’s essential to realise that the power of planning ahead and investing in unexpected scenarios should never be underestimated. Regardless of its size, it can save a business from complete shutdown.

However, as the IT trends of 2021 indicate, enterprise should not take risks and invest in technologies without reliable guidance. TWC IT Solutions has built up a deep understanding of the SME landscape over its ten year history and assisted over 200+ London-based businesses. Its industry-leading SLA and multiple locations worldwide make it one of the most responsive and efficient IT providers of the SME market.

Convert these predictions into actions with our help and call us today on 08000 248 900.

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