Technology has been our saviour this year, allowing us to continue to work and communicate, as well as contributing to the swift creation of a pandemic vaccine. But what does 2021 have in store? Pete Hanlon, Chief Technology Officer for Moneypenny predicts the following:
#1 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL FIND ITS PLACE
The trend for large tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook to open source their research has supercharged the speed of innovation in 2020, specifically in the field of Natural Language Processing. The breakthroughs have been significant, but up to now much of the technology has been limited to academia and research labs.
During 2021 we will start to see the technology mature into mainstream products allowing the wider business community to reap the benefits of these advancements; working smarter, giving us better ways to analyse data, streamlining supply chains, improving production processes and more, meaning less waste in our systems and increased sustainability.
#2 DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS WILL INCREASE
Businesses have had to embrace the use of digital communication technologies in order to ensure business continuity. This forcing of their hands will see the wider adoption and acceptance of technologies as both the technology advances and the new-normality resumes.
This will not replace human communication but allow us to discover new ways to connect. I believe that businesses achieve greatest performance when human and machine work in partnership so consider AI as a way of enhancing rather than replacing human capabilities.
#3 ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE WILL BECOME MORE PRIVATE
Concerns around privacy will force companies to move AI processing closer to the end-user. Mobile phones, sensors and smart home devices will run AI processing locally thereby removing the need for data to be sent to a centralised service. This change in approach will mean faster AI capabilities with increased privacy.
We can see this move starting to happen with the release of Apple’s M1 chip which comes with a Neural Engine baked directly into the silicon, setting the groundwork for privacy first AI solutions. For example, processing such as voice recognition or image processing that would normally use cloud services can happen directly on the device, keeping your data private and secure.
#4 THE CONTINUED ADVANCEMENT OF SMART HOME-WORKING TECHNOLOGIES
With the pandemic proving that agility and flexibility will be the key to business success in the new-normal, more and more businesses with be embracing remote-working and so the further development of smart home working technologies will be the focus. Keep a look out for some of the smaller tech companies innovating in niche markets too, like more immersive and natural video calling.
#5 TECHNOLOGY WILL BECOME KINDER TO THE ENVIRONMENT
Right now, not enough thought has gone into the impact of AI and Natural Language Processing on the environment, the power that is used and what is produced as a by-product. As these technological advances are embraced and refined, the impact of them will increasingly become a focus for researchers and companies alike.
#6 TECHNOLOGY WILL BECOME MORE BESPOKE
Service businesses will continue to develop the ability to tailor their technology more so than ever to their clients’ needs and, more cost-effectively, meaning that smaller businesses will be able to benefit from those solutions typically only afforded by the larger multi-nationals. Already being demonstrated by companies like Amazon is technology that will provide more personalisation in real time, predicting clients wants and needs with ever-increasing accuracy.
#7 OUTSOURCING WILL INCREASE
2020 taught us to focus on what we do best, bringing in experts in where we need specific solutions. This will only continue next year as businesses realise the benefits and adopt this business model.
Pete Hanlon is CTO at Moneypenny which handles outsourced calls, live chat and digital communications for UK and US companies.