IT trends for 2021

Now that 2020 is finally over, most of us are ready to forget all about the ‘year of the pandemic’. Ready to move on to the new year? Let’s see what 2021 has to offer in the field of information and communications technologies. Here’s a look at some interesting trends for the year ahead.

It’s impossible to provide an outlook for the year ahead, or even the next five years, without taking the developments of 2020 into account. The virus not only took us all by surprise, it also radically changed the way we live and work. And this has brought with it some far-reaching consequences for developments in the ICT field, which will continue to be felt for years. Working from home has now become the norm for many people. Online retail is through the roof. These are just two trends that will help to shape developments in our industry moving forward. And here are four more.

Agile becomes the norm

Before ever making it to the top of the Gartner Hype Cycle, every trend has to start out small. First, a trend has to prove its value. And agile work methods in software development were no exception. Along the way, this project-based approach has won plenty of fans. Estimates vary, but it appears that a majority of software developers are now using an agile methodology.

Internet of behaviours

Internet-of-things (IoT) equipment has been collecting a huge flow of data for the past few years. Until now, only a small portion of that data has been used for further analysis. Most IoT devices and sensors were designed above all for direct response. Like a smart smoke detector that instantly notifies you wherever you are, or a smartwatch that keeps track of how many steps you take in a day. The underlying data that these devices collect could provide some interesting insights that can help us control our behaviour, especially if we can combine data from various sources, such as IoT sensors, social media, commercial (customer) information and facial recognition. It’s important to continually analyse the consolidated data in (near-)real-time. Experts generally predict that the internet of behaviours will be on the rise in 2021, which will create new applications for data analytics. At the same time, not everyone is happy about this development. The public is becoming increasingly sceptical of the way large corporations collect their data. In order to succeed, the internet of behaviours will have to provide clear advantages to consumers.

Everything is in the cloud

The cloud will become more important than ever in 2021. The physical location of your workplace will become less important, so the cloud will become more important than ever in keeping everyone connected. So, what will this new cloud look like? The distributed cloud seems to be the best candidate: this is a public cloud that is based in the best possible physical location. The cloud provider takes care of everything, but the cloud is always wherever you need it to be. That means less latency, but also less hassle with privacy rules: a public service, but geographically in the right location. This offers all the advantages of a private cloud, for the price of a public one. And that will be a winning formula in 2021.

Cybersecurity mesh

This term began suddenly popping up in the media in the middle of last year and a trackback reveals that it actually originated with Gartner. Some people have ridiculed it, because Gartner has only given a very brief explanation of what it means. The research company defines it as a ‘distributed approach to a scalable, flexible, reliable form of cybersecurity’, before going on to explain that, due to the rise of working from home, more and more company property and people will be situated outside of an organisation’s safety net. This raises serious implications for cybersecurity.

In any case, company information is more spread out than ever before. Not only employees working from home but also external partners now have more and more access to a company’s sensitive business information. Gartner has advocated a mesh model which determines which person has access to which data, with which options and with which device, and from which location. It’s no coincidence that this concept partially overlaps with the Zero Trust model proposed by Gartner’s competitor Forrester. Under the Zero Trust model, companies assume to begin with that no one should have access to anything, before then deciding who to grant access to. The idea behind this is that hackers create access for themselves, enabling them to break into the ‘inside’. So, perhaps it’s not such a great idea to automatically grant data access to someone just because they’re already on the inside. The cybersecurity mesh will continue to be woven in the year ahead.

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