Technology “moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In fact, if you don’t take a look yearly, at the changes coming and those that defined the previous year, you may miss the opportunity to predict and capitalize on those changes and the ones coming in the next year. Data centers, and the businesses they support are no different. There’s no question, in fact, that in the last 5 years big data has driven some major changes not just in the workspace, but in our homes as well.
Further, 2020 was, for all intents and purposes, was driven by the capabilities and power of data centers and technology. Without them, the shift to remote work, the data collection and communications enabled by data centers, SaaS providers, and other remote services, would not have been possible. Perhaps more importantly, as suggested above, those changes set the stage for the year to come. Each step forward enables the next step, or leap, and so it’s important to take a good look at what might be in store for the rest of 2021 in terms of new technology and business development.
Anticipating the 2021 Business Development Industry
In 2021, much of business development will continue to be marked by the changing work structure initiated in 2020 by the arrival of the Coronavirus. While hopes for 2021 to see a marked shift away from some of those adjustments, it’s looking more and more likely that 2021 will be equally impacted by some of the changes needed as Covid-19 lingers and thus significantly impact new developments in technology.
Expect continued changes in the way we do business, from communication, videoconferencing, and remote work to contactless services in delivery and shipping as well as medicine and education. Largely, these evolutions will be supported by existing technologies, but many of these trends in business will also require the expansion and growth of services which are already available.
Some of these technologies will evolve with demands, while others will see new competitors arriving on the market to challenge existing service providers and the pain points associated with security concerns as well as end user experience and technology. Further, more businesses will need to rely on digital spaces and tools to grow their business and have included those business development strategies as part of their 2021 growth plans.
Anticipate, in other words, that many business developments in 2021 will be designed to address the lingering challenges created by the Coronavirus and the significant changes it created in the business environment. Further, many of these challenges will be met by technology developments and advancements.
How Technology Advances Impact Business Processes
Typically, many businesses and industries, as well as their employees, are slow to adopt new technologies. Whether it’s due to expenditures, concerns about risk management, or a failure to understand the technology and its potential to impact business processes, it normally takes a major change to drive adoption.
In 2020, as we all know, that major change came along. While much existing technology enables the shifts we’re witnessing now, widespread adoption was just not a priority. Again, there needs to be a driving force, usually consumer demand. In this case, the technology is, in many ways, driving consumers and forcing businesses to adapt more quickly. In fact, customer interactions are changing rapidly and technology plays a significant role in that shift. New developments or advancements in technology must, then, rise to meet these challenges.
However, companies need to be able to support these changes and much of that comes from the existence, expansion, and advancement of data centers as well as both cloud and edge computing. Without the growth of data centers, companies cannot make the online shifts that will be necessary to be successful in 2021 and moving forward.
It’s no secret that the digitization of the workplace and digital transformations drive productivity, On the business end, many of the drivers of growth already exist; instead, what will, perhaps, be the more significant change in 2021, is continued consumer adoption and demand for these digital products and services.
4 Business Development Trends to Be Aware of in 2021
Much of the business development trends for 2021 will involve or require digital transformations and further shifts to online and digital spaces for employees and customers alike. While many trends will involve existing technologies and rely upon increasing adoption rates, much of what we’ll see will rely upon the expansion and advancements of technologies which have been on the cusp or periphery and are now being shoved center stage due to other catalysts.
1. Expansion of Remote Work and Services
This is one area that saw explosive growth during 2020. As a good portion of the workforce shifted to working from home or working remotely as they isolated to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus, the applications and services that enabled and supported that shift saw massive growth as well. For this reason, expect the tech sector, from data centers, SaaS, DaaS, and videoconferencing, and collaboration applications to grow exponentially. In fact, research suggests the collaborative software market will grow, annually, by nearly 13% between now and 2027.
We’ll see growth and expansion in the existing industry leaders like Zoom, Webex, and GoToMeetings, while the industry is rife for collaborative workspace newcomers like Bluescape, Tandem, Slab, and more. Many of these tools will rely on cloud computing infrastructures that enable improved functionality and the ability to work, collaboratively, in real time. Look for new features and improved service and reliability to be main areas of competition.
2. Contactless Services
For nearly every industry that could initiate contactless delivery of services or goods in 2020, that was done. In healthcare, we saw a 50% increase in telehealth visits in the first quarter of 2020 alone with growth of nearly 154% in the last week of March 2020. Similarly, while online therapy really first appeared around 2015, 2020 saw significant growth as well. Many suspect it’s here to stay with the growth of apps like TalkSpace and BetterHelp.
Similarly, online education experienced significant growth with many students enrolling in online courses rather than on campus or in-seat options. Much like remote work creates opportunities for employers to find talent outside of their area, online education enables students who may not be able to afford to attend a campus in a seat (with room and board costs factored in), online courses and coursework may enable students to explore options previously not available to them.
In the shipping and delivery sectors, we’ve seen an increased demand, due predominantly to the increase in online orders and delivery of everything from takeout food to groceries and household goods. While the freight industry struggled a bit, the increase in demand of “last-mile” deliveries will mean significant changes in these businesses. The need for contactless delivery will drive an increase in drone and robot deliveries as well as the companies and applications that service them.
3. Increase in AI, Robotics, Drones, IoT, and Automation
Shipping and delivery are not the only places we’ll see an increase in the use of AI, robotics, drones and overall automation. Many of these technologies were instituted to comply with precautionary measures put in place by Covid-19 restrictions. However, much of what was initiated will continue, on the automation front, to contend with a shortage of qualified technicians, particularly in the automotive industry and in the IT industry, mostly cybersecurity.
In the automotive industry, growth of AI and automation in production, development, and operations will grow by at least 40%. In other industries, expect to see an introduction of robotics and drones used in warehousing, and the delivery, stocking, and shopping for consumer goods. AI and robotics will be paired with human workers and other methods for data collection to help streamline supply chains as well.
The biggest boon for these devices is not just their ability to make up for a shortage of qualified human hands, but is about data collection. As data collection and usage becomes a fundamental aspect of a successful business (understanding consumer and supply chain patterns), one of the biggest strengths of the IoT is providing data about consumer behavior so that businesses can be more prepared to provide for needs and wants.
4. The Rise of VR and AR
Again, prompted by the need for distance, social and physical, both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will see significant growth. Covid-19 forced many industries, especially entertainment, to develop creative ways to deliver the experiences people missed and craved, which could be, perhaps more importantly, monetized.
The IT resources required to support these initiatives and business developments necessitate considerable space, support staff, and expenditures, both CapEx and OPex. Similarly, there are considerable taxes on power consumption, cooling, security, risk mitigation, redundancies and all of the areas where your data center can, and should, excel.
That’s why, as you search for a colocation partner or data center, you should be connecting with vXchnge. Not only do we offer the network reliability, security, scalability, and capabilities your growing business will require, but we’ve also got the expertise to assist you, as well as a keen understanding of the industries where this growth will be most profound.
About Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about data centers and big data for several industry publications, including The Data Center Journal, Data Center Frontier and insideBIGDATA. To read more posts from Kayla, you can follower her personal tech blog at ProductivityBytes.com.