Information Technology Trends and Predictions for 2021

Matthew George | Monday, November 16, 2020

Information Technology Trends and Predictions for 2021

After a year of uncertain economic conditions and rapid digital transformation to embrace the work-from-home workforce, the IT industry is settling into a new rhythm. As 2020 draws to a close, business leaders have gained new perspectives and implemented sweeping changes. In the IT sector, the global pandemic became a catalyst for transformation, including widespread cloud adoption, and 76 percent of businesses plan to keep the changes they have made this year for the long term.

For IT professionals, 2021 is looking to be an exciting year, even with the budget restrictions that typically accompany economic uncertainty. Consider the following significant trends for 2021 as you plan your career development strategy and capitalize on emerging needs.

1) The Shift to Remote Work Dominates Business Decision–Making

While the ability to work from home has been a reality for many years, global stay-at-home orders in 2020 resulted in an immediate and non-negotiable challenge for many organizations. IT departments suddenly faced drastically increased demands for networking, storage and application delivery solutions to support a work-from-home workforce. These demands became the catalyst for digital transformation and cloud adoption. Additionally, cloud technology seized the chance to prove itself throughout 2020. The organizations that had already adopted cloud benefited from scalability — both up and down. And in response to the shift to work-from-home, IT leadership teams and executives reshaped their strategies around cloud delivery, citing the need for flexibility and business agility:

  • 44% have already accelerated their digital transformation or plan to in 2021
  • 33% plan to improve IT security
  • 36% recognize the need to improve IT operations and systems performance
  • 2021 hardware budgets will drop to 31% from 35% in 2019, while hosted/cloud services and managed services budgets will increase from 21% to 24% and 14% to 16%, respectively

For technology professionals, the shift to remote work provides a significant opportunity for upskilling. With businesses investing in cloud technology to connect employees, they’ll need trained and certified cloud architects and administrators to lead the way. Cloud developers will also find their place in the transforming IT industry, as organizations steadily move away from on-premises hardware to robust, widespread cloud environments. If you work in AWS, IBM, Vmware, or other popular brands you'll see a shift in your work flexibility in the coming years. 

2) IT Spending Will Rebound in Line With Revenue Increases

With looming economic uncertainty and declining revenue numbers, IT budgets shrank over 2020, and many IT leaders held off on net-new technology purchases throughout the year. However, 33 percent of organizations expect revenue growth over 2021, which means there is potential for increased technology spending for those organizations. Additionally, Gartner projects worldwide IT spending to grow to a total of $3.8 trillion in 2021, which is a 4-percent increase from 2020. For companies that make purchase decisions in the coming year, technology that propels transformation will lead. Look for spending in cloud technology and solutions to support hybrid cloud environments and the remote workforce, including enterprise software, communication tools, virtual desktops, cloud networking and security solutions.

There is much uncertainty across the bulk of organizations in terms of anticipated financial growth. An overall 33 percent of organizations anticipate growth, 26 percent expect no change, 31 percent expect a decrease and 10 percent don’t know what to expect. However, those numbers vary when looking at specific industry segments. For example, half of the businesses in the financial services industry and educational institutions expect revenue increases. Geographical location factors into perceived revenue potential, too; 41 percent of U.K. businesses expect their revenues to decline by 2021.

3) Operational Resiliency Drives Tech-Buying Decisions in 2021

Keeping businesses operating through rapidly changing conditions is challenging in the best of times. With more people working remotely and consumers shifting even more toward online purchasing, operational resiliency and data analytics have become central to strategic discussions both about and within IT. Into 2021 and beyond, organizational leadership will lean hard into technologies that support each individual — regardless of location — to keep them connected, involved and productive. Some of the top strategic trends for 2021 include:

  • Internet of Behaviors and Total Experience Delivery: Internet of behaviors (IoB) technologies, including facial recognition, location tracking, artificial intelligence and big data, help businesses connect data to associated behaviors. The resulting data points can help improve customer experiences, even when the business has no direct contact with the customer. Additionally, organizations can use IoB data to improve critical interactions through mobile and virtual interfaces. This “total experience” (TX) delivery model drives greater customer satisfaction and helps businesses outperform competitors.
  • Distributed Cloud and Anywhere Operations: Public clouds are dynamic, distributed environments by nature. The public cloud provides an agile environment that delivers much-needed cost reduction as businesses face the challenge of keeping employees and customers connected. As more employees shift to permanent remote work, distributed cloud options improve application performance and reduce latency, leading to greater productivity and connectivity. However, these distributed solutions elevate the need for experts in “anywhere operations” that are designed to support customers everywhere. Cloud operations management requires upskilled workers who are collaborative and productive, understand the importance of secure remote access and are committed to delivering an exceptional digital experience in a rapidly changing environment.

A Remote Workforce Introduces New Privacy and Security Challenges

In addition to the well-known governance and compliance requirements that many organizations face, the widespread remote workforce — coupled with a customer base that’s increasingly relying on online buying — introduce new data privacy and security challenges. Cloud security is highly dependent upon proper configuration and careful monitoring, yet 99 percent of cloud misconfigurations go unnoticed. The resulting cloud-native breaches lead to costly data losses and violations of customer trust.

IT security in the cloud represents a significant shift in both culture and technology requirements. By 2025, half of large organizations will implement privacy-enhancing measures and cybersecurity mesh enhancements to enforce best-practices configurations, protect sensitive data and enforce security policies in the cloud.

5) Automation Increases the Importance of the Knowledge Worker

The rapid shift toward digital transformation in 2020 has propelled automation to the forefront of strategic discussions. Business-driven automation improves efficiency, reduces human error in repetitive tasks and delivers consistency. The mantra for many organizations is now, “automate everything possible,” and 70 percent of commercial organizations are undertaking hyper-automation initiatives.

The shift toward widespread automation represents both disruption and new opportunities. Operations jobs are shifting in nature to require upskilled knowledge workers. Training and certification options in application and solution administration, software development and testing are now a sought-after differentiator for IT operations engineers in the job market.  Additionally, operations professionals are diversifying their skill sets with training in business intelligence, project management and even emerging technologies like analytics and big data.

Find the IT Training You Need to Succeed in 2021

With the accelerated drive toward digital transformation continuing into 2021, many IT professionals will benefit from additional training. ExitCertified offers the latest, vendor-certified training for an array of leading technology platforms and disciplines. In this webinar, we discuss the situation and challenges for businesses attempting to upskill IT employees to drive digital transformation and outline the benefits of a single point of contact for multi-vendor training. Our courses can be taken in person or remotely, with online self-paced courses and our instructor-led virtual learning option. You can choose from over 9,500 stand-alone courses or follow a learning path to become a certified professional in Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and other technologies that will help you succeed in 2021 and beyond.

Ready to embrace the trends of 2021 and beyond? 
See what training courses align with your goals for the future and explore our training paths to get started.