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Guest Post

3 technology predictions for 2021

As IT leaders prepare their organizations for the year ahead, we're offering insights into the technology trends we predict will have the biggest impact.

With 2020 behind us, now is a good time to look back at the at the most impactful IT industry trends of the last 12 months, as well as forecast some of the top technology predictions for 2021. The following are three predictions that stand out the most.

1. IoT finally gets unleashed

In Randstad's report on the state of digital transformation today, 63% of technology leaders stated that COVID-19 pushed their organizations to embrace digital transformation sooner and faster than they had ever expected prior to the pandemic.

It may not be surprising for many, but the overwhelmingly positive impact they're reporting across the board is. In fact, 64% indicated that their companies have seen ROI from recent technology investments, according to one survey.

This suggests the conditions may finally be ripe for IoT to go mainstream.

Data shows that reducing costs is the primary driver of IoT investments, and as the economy slowly bounces back, it's going to remain top of mind for many business leaders. Add to that the fact that the number of connected IoT devices is rapidly increasing. The total number of devices is expected to grow to 75 billion by 2025, according to Statista Research Department.

McKinsey also expects $4 trillion to $11 trillion in business value to come from IoT applications.

And the number of potential applications for IoT is effectively limitless. They include connected healthcare, remote asset monitoring, employee productivity and engagement assessments.

2. Remote collaboration remains king

According to a large-scale survey by KPMG, 70% of organizations reported that collaboration between teams was actually stronger during the pandemic. This is a testament to the ways in which digital tools can unlock new capabilities for organizations. Given that the same leaders said employee productivity was the top factor fueling tech investment in 2020, it's clear that tech-enabled collaboration is going to be one of the major themes in the year ahead.

What is all of that going to look like in action? Probably not so different than it does today, as many business leaders say they expect pandemic-related work-from-home arrangements to outlast the pandemic itself.

In 2020, several companies also witnessed the impact of low-code platforms -- another driver of innovation -- and its ability to significantly truncate the average deployment timeline for new apps. This will only further drive innovation as low-code, cloud-based tools can enable non-tech business leaders and developers to work collaboratively.

3. Human capital concerns escalate

A return to traditional, colocated work environments in 2021 may be feasible for some companies, but it's not expected to be the same as the workplace pre-pandemic. In fact, the prognosis from many forecasters is for more people to be working remotely in 2021 than in 2020. For example, Forrester predicts the figure will be three times pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2021.

Regardless of how it ultimately shapes up, it's clear that remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future and will remain an option for most employees. In theory, it could open up a more diverse, geographically unbound talent pool to employers -- but the reality for most will be that tech hiring is just as difficult as ever.

Finally, as the pace of change continues to accelerate, reskilling and upskilling employees is going to be more important than ever. Organizations actively investing in ongoing talent development stand to gain an edge on their competitors, retain more of their most valuable contributors and position themselves for success over the long haul.

About the author
Graig Paglieri is the CEO at Randstad Technologies Group and is responsible for day-to-day operational leadership and strategic direction for Randstad's professional staffing and solutions, including the Technologies, Engineering and Life Sciences line of businesses as well as the company's technology consulting brand, Celerity. Supporting Randstad globally, Paglieri manages the Randstad Offshore Services teams to bring efficiencies and delivery back to the U.S. market. Starting his career with the U.S. Marine Corps after college, Paglieri has since spent the last two decades in professional staffing, IT managed services and management consulting.

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