2020 brought us the coronavirus pandemic, and, as a consequence, greatly expanded the use of technology during lockdowns. With schools moving their classes online and more and more people switching to remote work, technological breakthroughs have proved to be valuable allies in the fight against COVID-19. This year changed a lot of routines, forcing individuals and businesses into adjustments that rely heavily on technology. As learning and working moved online, so did social interactions, fitness classes, medical appointments, and recreational and leisure activities. However, with vaccines estimated to reach hundreds of millions of people in early 2021, will technology also thrive the following year?
While some voices are calling for precautions when dealing with technological progress, others point to the fact that technology may play an even greater role during the process of returning to normal. Driven by a host of recent changes, technological advancements may not only be here to stay but also here to grow. Here are five predictions of what may happen.
The Internet Will Become an Important Part of Our Lives
During the coronavirus pandemic, almost 93% of U.S. adults stated that a major interruption to their internet and cellphone services would be a cause for concern, according to the Pew Research Center. Out of the 93%, 49% saw an outage as a very big problem in 2020, and 28% said it would be a moderately big problem. Although vaccine news is encouraging for now, companies everywhere may opt for remote or hybrid work even after the end of the crisis. For businesses and schools around the world, the coronavirus pandemic might have brought a persistent change in the organization of both jobs and classes.
While the internet has played an important role in our lives since its creation, the coronavirus pandemic may have shown us all there is still room to grow.
Remote Work Might Continue Once the Crisis Is Over
While the health crisis has seen remote work rising to never seen before levels, new studies show not all employees will return to offices once the pandemic ends. According to a new survey, at least 16% of the people now working from home will continue to work remotely long after the COVID-19 crisis ends.
We should keep in mind that working from home comes with multiple benefits for both employers and employees. Savings on both office space and equipment increased productivity and employee retention rates are just some of these advantages.
Remote Schooling Options Might Become More Easily Available
While many schools were ill-prepared for providing remote education during the pandemic, some managed to implement hybrid approaches once the situation demanded them. Access to technology was a priceless asset during this crisis, and it also proved that remote learning is not only possible but also beneficial in education. The move to remote education may prove to be a permanent one, at least for some students around the world.
Although students everywhere will probably return to traditional classes in 2021, online learning demonstrated that it can be a good alternative to it, at least during a time of crisis.
Adoption of Machine Learning Across Industries Will Accelerate
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning were also invaluable in predicting risks, helping develop vaccines and cures faster than ever, while also predicting the spread of and understanding the virus. As scientists and governments around the world joined forces to collect important data and develop unique solutions, machine learning became an important technological tool in the fight against COVID-19.
AI and machine learning will prove important tools in the future, not only in preventing the next pandemic but also across industries and institutions.
IT Spending Will Continue to Grow in 2021
According to the latest estimates from Gartner, “worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2021, an increase of 4% from 2020”. The biggest surge will be seen in enterprise software spending, which is projected to grow by 7.2% in 2021. Spending on data center systems will follow with an estimated growth rate of 5.2%. However, spending on devices and other tools may decrease the following year. “Companies have more IT to do and less money to do it, so they are pulling money out of the areas they can afford, such as mobile phone and printer refreshes, which is why there will be less growth in the devices and communications services segments,” warned John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner.
With the weight of the pandemic gradually lifting and the hope for an effective vaccine on the rise, now the future seems brighter than it did in the previous months. However, change will remain a keyword in 2021, and the technologies that helped us so far will continue to play the same crucial role.