Okay, so 2020 was a year not many of us will want all over again, writes Esti Kilian, head of business development and marketing at Itec SA. And yet, it was a year in which the tech industry came into its own, and learned lessons about adaptability, resilience and collaboration that have changed the way we work forever.

Perhaps the hardest thing for businesses this year was the uncertainty – which makes predicting trends for 2021 more challenging than usual. But as we move into what will hopefully be a post-Covid reality, here’s my view of the top five tech trends that will impact local businesses in the coming year. Not surprisingly, most of them are being driven by the need for the ‘next normal’.

Welcome to the Internet of Behaviours (IoB) 

Anyone who loves a good tech acronym will know the Internet of Things (IoT), is the network of interconnected physical objects – from fridges to data centres – that gather and exchange information and data over the internet. The Internet of Behaviours (IoB) takes this data and uses it to make sense of human behaviours: like using data from telematics to change the driving behaviour of fleet drivers, for example, or using facial recognition data from security systems to track movements within a retail store.

Devices related to location, facial recognition and more can essentially act as guides to mapping behaviour. This doesn’t just give companies insights to past performance, but will allow them to predict future behaviour more accurately. It’s early days, but watch this space.

The rise of the cybersecurity mesh 

This sounds a bit like The Matrix, but what the cybersecurity mesh does is to allow anyone to access any digital asset securely, no matter where the asset or person is located – effectively allowing identity to become the security perimeter.

This has been coming for a while with companies that have mobile or remote workforces, but as people start working from home, we’re going to see the cybersecurity mesh supporting more digital access control requests than ever. Most business cyber assets now lie outside the traditional physical and logical security perimeters, and this is the most practical way to ensure secure access to applications and data.

The age of hyper-automation 

This is another of those trends that was already steadily on the rise, but has been turbo-charged by the pandemic with the sudden requirement for everything to be ‘digital first.’ Basically, hyper-automation suggests that anything that can and should be automated in an organisation, will be.

We’re already working with several clients to identify and automate as many approved business and IT processes as possible as they look to streamline their operations and move to the ‘better normal’, and it’s only going to grow.

The headlong rush to the cloud 

The move to the cloud is nothing new. But we saw many businesses caught off guard during lockdown. Not having the right cloud strategies in place made it difficult and cumbersome – and in some cases, downright impossible – to work and deploy a productive remote workforce.

Today, most enterprises and SMEs are moving their critical businesses online, and they will be looking for trusted technology partners to help them make the transition as rapidly and seamlessly as possible. What they will realise is that going onto the cloud will actually help them emerge from the crisis even stronger, as cloud unlocks numerous opportunities without heavy upfront IT investment.

A greater focus on employee experience

In 2020, we quickly saw which companies had a good grip of employee experience, and which didn’t. Those who did were able to make sudden and immediate changes to their way of working far more easily, and this was critical to making the switch to working from home.

2021 will see even more pressure put on technology functions and partners to create a better employee experience in the face of tight budgets. Top of mind will be enterprise connectivity integration to allow teams to use company infrastructure instead of their own, using shared VPNs and APNs to ensure cyber security compliance, and using cloud computing to deliver IT platforms and access to business critical information.

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