By Prithwis De
The year 2020 will be marked as an unprecedented year in history due to the adverse impact of coronavirus worldwide. This pandemic has started bringing extraordinary changes in some key areas. The trends of faster drug development, effective remote care, efficient supply chain, etc, will continue into 2021. Drone technology is already playing a vital role in delivering food and other essentials alongside relief activities.
With Covid-19 came a new concept of the Internet of Behaviour within organisations to track human behaviour in the work environment and trace any slack in maintaining guidelines. Now on, organisations are set to capture and combine behaviour-related data from different sources and use it. We can assertively say it will affect the way organisations interact with people, going forward. Students are experiencing distance learning, taking examinations under remotely-monitored and proctored surveillance systems through identity verification and authentication in real time.
All these will have a high impact on technology, which will shape our outlook in the future. Businesses around the globe are taking the giant leap to become tech-savvy with quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, etc. AI and cloud computing are alluring us all towards an environment of efficiency, security, optimisation and confidence. What better time than now to unveil what to look out for in the world of AI and technology in 2021.
What 2020 has paved the way for is quantum computing. Now, be prepared to adapt to a hybrid computing approach (conventional cum quantum computing) to problem-solving. This paradigm shift in computing will result in the emergence of implausible ways to solve existing business problems and ideate new opportunities. Its effects will be visible on our ability to perform better in diverse areas—financial forecasting, weather predictions, drug and vaccine development, blood-protein analysis, supply chain planning and optimisation, etc. Quantum Computing as a Service (QCaaS) will be a natural choice for organisations to plug into the experiments as we advance. Forward-thinking businesses are excited to take the quantum leap, but the transition is still in a nascent stage. This new year will be a crucial stepping stone towards the future of things to change in the following years.
Cloud providers such as Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure) and Google will continue to hog the limelight as the AI tool providers for most companies leaning towards real-time experiments in their business processes in the months to follow. Efficiency, security and customisation are the advantages for which serverless and hybrid cloud computing are gaining firm ground with big enterprises. It will continue to do so in 2021.
Going forward, the aim is to make the ‘black box’ of AI transparent with explainable AI. The lack of clarity hampers our ability to trust AI yet. Automated machine learning (AutoML), another crucial area, is likely to be very popular in the near future. One more trend that caught on like wildfire in 2020 is Machine Learning Operations (MLOps). It provides organisations visibility of their models and has become an efficient tool to steer clear of duplicated efforts in AI. Most of the companies have been graduating from AI experimentations and pilot projects to implementation. This endeavour is bound to grow further and enable AI experts to have more control over their work from end-to-end now onwards.
Cybersecurity will gain prime importance in 2021 and beyond as there is no doubt that hacking and cybercrime prevention are priorities for all businesses with sensitive data becoming easily accessible with advanced phishing tools. Advanced prediction algorithms, along with AI, will play a decisive role in the future to prevent such breaches in data security.
AI and the Internet of Things along with edge computing, which is data processing nearer the source closer to the device at the edge of the network, will usher in a new era for actionable insights from the vast amount of data. The in-memory-accelerated-real-time AI will be needed, particularly when 5G has started creating new opportunities for disruption.
In 2020, there was a dip in overall funding as the pandemic had badly impacted the investment sector due to a reduction in activity. Some of the technology start-ups are still unable to cope up with the challenges created due to Covid-19 and the consequent worsening economic conditions. According to NASSCOM, around 40% of Indian start-ups were forced to stop their operations. In 2021, mergers and acquisitions of start-ups are expected. The larger companies are likely to target smaller companies, specialised mainly in niche and innovative areas such as drug development, cybersecurity, AI chips, cloud computing, MLOps, etc.
The businesses in 2021 and beyond will develop into efficient workplaces for everybody who believes in the power of technology. It is important to bear in mind that all trends are not necessarily independent of each other, but rather form the support base of the other as well as work in tandem with human intervention. So, are the hybrid trends and solutions here to stay for the next few years for the smooth running of various organisations? Only time will tell. But the need for AI and newer technology adoption and modernisation increases manifold.
The author is an analytics and AI professional, based in London, working in a big IT company. Views are personal