What did the seismic shock in 2020 mean for tech trends?

Laptop on table with graphs on the screen

Written by Adrian Leer, Managing Director, Triad Group Plc

Following an in-depth piece of tech trends research in 2019 in which nearly 300 respondents told us what technology they expected to shape 2020 and beyond, I ran a follow-up tech’ trends pulse check at the end of 2020.

Only asking three questions, we wanted to see if and to what extent key technologies and sentiments had changed following the first global pandemic in the modern world.  We were intrigued to see whether and how the unprecedented global reach of Covid would impact views about technology.

The results are both expected and challenging, posing questions themselves.  

  • Whilst smaller in size this year, our cohort of respondents mirrored quite closely the breakdown from last year.  Roughly half were from the private sector, a third from the public sector, and the rest selected “other”.  

 

We asked people to identify the technology likely to have the most impact in 2021.  

Despite the enormous swing from working at work to working at home, the cloud’s significance is still second to artificial intelligence. Before receiving the results, we had anticipated a resounding first place for cloud.

However, the apparent ease with which organisations across all sectors managed to adapt to the working at home/living at work paradigm has possibly relegated the general concept of cloud computing to that of a ubiquitous commodity.  Indeed, it’s analogous to expecting oxygen to be the number one priority in the hierarchy of needs, yet we tend to treat that as a given.

The extent to which artificial intelligence won this particular tech’ trends race is also interesting in its own right.  

AI almost defies definition, it can mean many things to many people.  Some vendors will say that their own AI offering is not emulating the human brain, whilst other people have a tendency to classify the conventional application of software as AI or an algorithm.  Nonetheless, there is clearly a groundswell that suggests AI, in its many guises, will have a very significant impact on the way we live our lives – whether that is as workers, consumers or citizens.

So, despite the perhaps nebulous nature of “artificial intelligence”, what we can safely deduce is that high degrees of innovation look like playing a part in our lives shortly.  And perhaps it is the seismic shock of Covid that has acted as a global catalyst for change, to be delivered through the medium of AI.  

Interestingly, it looks like there may be the funding to achieve this too.  Our second survey indicates that pressure on budgets is less acute than it was a year earlier. The proportion of respondents reporting high pressure on budgets was half the amount recorded a year earlier.  

Obviously, our survey didn’t cover organisations that have sadly disappeared in the last twelve months, so there is possibly an element of self-selection in the mix.  However, it does feel that there is a nice combination of appetite, ambition and innovation playing out in what looks to be an exciting year in technology.


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