Top Tech Trends for 2020 & Beyond
As the end of Q1 2020 quickly approaches, it’s full speed ahead on what we could call the Roaring Tech Twenties. Even as technology suffuses every aspect of daily life, it hasn’t let up on change since its inception; it’s always evolving and expanding as users expect more, different, and better.
For 2020 and beyond, the top tech trends appropriately highlight adaptability, agility, and customer centricity. IT budgets are forecasted to grow in 2020 as businesses upgrade outdated IT infrastructure and deploy imaginative new initiatives. In this list of six top tech trends, we look at how this growth mindset will affect people, businesses, and the economy as well as how new or expanding technologies are evolving to address them.
REGULATORY TECHNOLOGY (RegTech)
Complex regulatory challenges are growing faster than ever as risk and compliance continue to be daily concerns for modern business. Policies and procedures need to be kept up to date, and the rapidly changing world of regulations and requirements is putting more pressure on the risk and compliance teams that hold down the regulatory fort. As a result, the need for IT solutions designed specifically for regulatory compliance will continue to grow.
In comes Regulation Technology (RegTech) to save the day! RegTech started in the financial sector a few years ago and is now quickly demonstrating its value within other industries, especially the consumer goods industry. According to Forrester, “In the first three quarters of 2019, RegTech scored $4.6 billion in funding at a year-over-year growth rate of 103%—with no signs of slowing down.”
Consumer goods and products, including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics, are at the mercy of differing regulations according to countries or regions. For instance, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the EU demands different regulatory compliance than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. If your business operates internationally, you need to keep up with multiple governing bodies and their various updates. Additionally, as we have seen with recent data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), compliance issues are going digital. RegTech offers a critical method for automating the work that would otherwise require hours of manpower and big budget spending in risk and compliance team members and training.
Speaking of finances, the cost of noncompliance is a big threat to any industry, as it can result in not only moderate to severe fines and a plethora of other penalties, but significant loss of revenue if noncompliance costs a company its reputation. RegTech can provide automated solutions for compliance management, risk management, regulatory reporting, and more. Some examples of current RegTech solutions include blockchain, data mining and analytics, big data, cloud computing, and machine learning. Each of these will become increasingly crucial as enterprises continue to refine their compliance policies, engage more personally with customers, and protect their brand reputation more fiercely than ever.
Edge computing is not necessarily new, but we expect to see it become more readily available and increasingly necessary for digital economy business in 2020. In short, edge computing allows IT systems to process and store data closer to where it’s being produced or consumed, resulting in increased connectivity speeds and lower costs of bandwidth. With the growing demand of Internet of Things (IoT) and the impending promise of 5G (discussed below), real-time data analytics and computing is what every company wants.
“For many companies, the cost savings alone can be a driver toward deploying an edge-computing architecture,” explains IT World from IDG. “Companies that embraced the cloud for many of their applications may have discovered that the costs in bandwidth were higher than they expected. Increasingly, though, the biggest benefit of edge computing is the ability to process and store data faster, enabling for more efficient real-time applications that are critical to companies.”
At a time when many businesses are operating in the cloud, edge computing has a leg up on cloud computing when it comes to cost, speed, and reliability, since the data doesn’t need to travel over long distances to a central location. For instance, if your IoT device is using biometrics such as facial recognition, the processing speeds will greatly improve when using edge computing. If your distribution center uses a complex RFID monitoring and GPS tracking system, you need to have the most up-to-date information on which shipments are coming and going. Automated electric vehicles depend on instantaneous data collection, processing, and decision. Edge computing enables myriad applications that would have never been possible otherwise.
IT AUTOMATION (yes, more automation)
The digital economy is demanding a new level of IT performance, to the extent that it’s no longer feasible to assume that human workers can keep up without robotic assistance. Forrester predicts that “Automation will replace, on net, 1.06 million jobs from cubicle, coordinator, and function-specific knowledge worker personas in 2020.” However, before you panic, they also say that this doesn’t necessarily mean that we will all be without work.
IT automation will carry the burden of all those mundane, repetitive tasks that drive us crazy, so skilled IT professionals can focus on the higher-value jobs that need a real human brain. The continued growth of automation will certainly cause a job shift, but not necessarily job losses. There will be a growing need for support staff to build and manage these software bots.
So where is IT automation increasing? Well, everywhere, but robotic process automation (RPA) and hyperautomation are ready for a growth spurt. Over the last few years, RPA software has taken over routine IT tasks such as help desk ticketing, processing transactions, application support, and generating automatic e-mail responses. It can also help with security patches, software and firmware updates, and more. Ultimately, the benefits of RPA go beyond cost savings to support what every business is pursuing: a better end-user experience.
Hyperautomation is an expansion of this, combining RPA and other artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies. It encompasses a more sophisticated AI-based process automation that combines the benefits of multiple tools.
“As no single tool can replace humans, hyperautomation today involves a combination of tools,” explained by Gartner, “including robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent business management software (iBPMS), and AI, with a goal of increasingly AI-driven decision making.” Hyperautomation will allow more knowledge-based work to be automated for things like decision making and analytics purposes. RPA got the ball rolling, and now hyperautomation is taking it up a notch with end-to-end automation.
Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is a simplified solution in replacing legacy infrastructure, and though it has gained momentum over the last year, we expect it to skyrocket in 2020. Like its name suggests, HCI combines the whole data center stack into a software-defined IT infrastructure that blends compute, network, storage, and virtualization technologies. This platform allows businesses to scale as needed and stay competitive in the ever-changing IT market.
HCI aims to replace outdated three-tier legacy infrastructures, which just aren’t cutting it for modern businesses that need scalability, faster time-to-market, and increased performance. HCI gives all of that seamlessly. According to Spiceworks, “70% of large enterprises plan to use hyper-converged infrastructure by 2021.”
One big change that’s expected in 2020 and beyond are software and hardware vendors working together to provide the best of the best for HCI capabilities and overall innovation. Along with HCI, there are new IT infrastructure models that have entered the market. Subscription and IT Infrastructure as a Service models are now providing multiplatform infrastructure services in monthly units, which can drastically enhance a company’s IT innovation abilities.
5G TECHNOLOGY (and the need for speed)
One of the biggest buzzwords in 2019 is quickly achieving even greater degrees of notoriety in 2020: the fifth generation (5G) mobile network. The hype for 5G is real, as it brings wireless speeds so fast that they can be competitive with fiber-optic networks. The thrills of 5G offer high bandwidth, huge capacity, and strong reliability. We are living in a highly connected world where the need for speed is ever increasing. The 5G network promises to not only interconnect people’s mobile devices faster, but it will also show great enhancements in interconnecting machines and objects for industries like healthcare, factory automation, and smart grids.
It seems like we’ve been hearing about 5G for years, and that’s because it’s been in the works for almost a decade. The International Telecommunication Union’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) created the “International Mobile Telecommunications for 2020 and Beyond” (IMT-2020) in 2012, which marked the beginning stages of standards for 5G networks. A focus group was established in 2015, and the minimum requirements for 5G were released in 2017. After years of anticipation, some carriers started rolling out 5G services in 2019 to select cities and countries. This year, as it goes live on a larger scale, we expect businesses to imagine even more uses for the technology.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (CX): Expectations and technologies
An area that is arguably going through the largest amount of change is customer experience (CX). Consumers now hold more knowledge and power than ever before, and it’s changing how every single industry operates. Many modern businesses are now competing in the mobile space via apps and websites, where consumers can drop one service for another at the press of a button, creating this notion of the empowered consumer. It’s worth first noting the growing trends among customer expectations. Customers increasingly want to know more about the companies they are supporting. What are their environmental impacts, political views, and ethical values? Are they using renewable energy, giving back a portion of their proceeds, and using their power for the greater good?
A 2018 global survey of consumers conducted by Accenture found that “62% of them want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues such as sustainability, transparency, and fair employment practices.” The ways in which a company communicates with its customers can help them learn more about the company’s values, which can be a major selling point or a serious deal breaker.
However, when it comes down to the deciding factor, what do all customers want more than anything? Fast, easy to use, and high-quality service. This explains the advent of the new multiexperience development. Not to be confused with omnichannel experience, which typically focuses on the ways in which consumers can communicate with a business, a multiexperience development incorporates multisensory and immersive experiences using virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality in devices like wearables (think smart watches) and mobile apps. These technologies are changing the way customers interact with a company, providing a more robust, personal experience, and therefore influencing how consumers perceive a company. We expect that as the digital economy continues to evolve, businesses will differentiate themselves through all of these efforts to personalize their own operations alongside the experiences of their customers.
Change is constant, especially as businesses grapple with the impact of global issues such as the recent COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. TenFour has taken steps to support its customers in this trying time, but we feel that it’s important to stay positive and focused on the innovations of the future. It can be daunting for any business leader to incorporate new technologies into their operation as they deal with daily challenges. Luckily, all of these trends point toward a broader trend of simplicity and streamlining. So, even if you lean toward a pessimistic “Oww” brain instead of an optimistic “Wow” brain (side reference to Todd Herman’s viewpoint), you can rest assured there’s hope on the horizon. We look forward to embracing and capitalizing on these new technologies right alongside you in the new decade.