Here we are folks. We’re standing at the start of a whole new decade. And if the last few are anything to go by, it’s going to be stuffed full of new tech that changes the way we live, work, think, learn and interact. So what game-changers are waiting on the horizon? We asked our MD, Tim Dunton, for his technology trend predictions for 2020…
A shift in consumer awareness
Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly aware of data and cybersecurity. The threats individuals and organisations face online are constantly evolving, and high-profile issues like GDPR have given people a growing focus on issues like privacy.
Over the next 12 months, we’re likely to see greater consumer demand for robust security, more stringent measures for organisations holding data, and a thriving online security industry. People will be more sensitive to how and why their data is collected and it’s likely that more cloud-based solutions will build in privacy tools to protect their users.
Consumers will also be starting to ask more questions about the environmental impact of the products they buy, and the services they use. They’ll demand more transparency, sustainability and accountability – and the organisations able to provide it will reap rewards in terms of brand loyalty. The opposite may well be true for those who don’t.
The big 5G rollout
With speeds reaching up to 100gbps, 5G mobile internet is bound to be one of the biggest tech stories of 2020. Around 100 times faster than its predecessor, it’s already being described as one of the biggest innovations since the internet was born.
While some mobile networks have been offering 5G since May 2019, the rollout has been gradual so far, with many phones still unable to support it and many areas still not connected. Once the iPhone offers 5G – expected to be some time later this year – it’s likely to make massive strides forward and if everything goes to plan we should see the new phone network really take the market by storm.
The benefits will be huge. 4K content in the palm of your hands. More capacity for loading existing content. And the potential to add billions to the global economy, driving new products, services, jobs and businesses.
But it’s not without risks. While 5G will reduce some of today’s online security threats, it will open up new ones, which we’ll need to find fresh ways of tackling. The network needs a huge amount of new infrastructure to support it, making rollout gradual and coverage limited for the time being, with dropped signals likely as the new tech finds its feet.
Connected devices, augmented realities
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for a while, but this year we’ll see it go mainstream, as more people adopt smart home technology and wearables. Some estimates suggest that by the end of 2020, we’ll each have an average of five IoT-connected devices.
We’ll also see this technology trend open up new possibilities for organisations and communities, with real potential in waste management, safety monitoring and water distribution. As businesses follow suit, computers and machines will be able to communicate more smoothly, processing data faster and speeding up business decisions (more on this in a moment).
It’s also likely that we’ll see the applications for virtual, augmented and mixed-reality tech grow over the next 12 months. Until now, VR’s been most widely used in entertainment, gaming, galleries and training, but its potential is huge, particularly in the retail sector. The most realistic, and therefore effective, VR tech has so far been expensive and unwieldy, but as it becomes more established, we should see more portable, affordable offerings.
Augmented and mixed-reality tech, combined with the power of 5G, will soon empower wearable devices to capture more of our biometric data, faster. So, in the near future, we won’t just be able to track our physical data but also use it to control the content we receive, as our heartbeats and brainwaves influence the augmented reality we experience.
The rise of AI and autonomous tech
We’re already using AI every day, in more ways than many of us realise. By enabling things like face and voice recognition, as well as more powerful data processing, it equips our phones, appliances and wearables to do things we’d have thought impossible just a few years ago. That groundbreaking pace of change looks unlikely to slow down.
New applications for the technology are being discovered all the time – in areas including healthcare, agriculture, the military and even government. Jobs that would take experts hours can be done in seconds using AI, at the same time eliminating human error, fatigue and emotional conflict – with the ability to operate entirely logically, without a break, 24/7.
Combined with natural language processing (NLP), AI is becoming increasingly accepted within customer service applications. It powers chatbots, able to deal with simple queries, reduce the pressure on overstretched teams and improve response times for customers. In the next 12 months, we’ll see these chatbots become more realistic and responsive, as well as using smart speakers to engage with customers in a more natural, human way.
But customer service is just part of the story. The cost of these phenomenally advanced technologies is falling all the time and this trend means, throughout 2020 and beyond, AI innovation will be open to more developers and organisations – including smaller, niche ones. In turn, they’ll be able to explore a more diverse range of possibilities and bring to market many more specialised AI-powered products.
A move towards more streamlined management
As this trend continues, it’s likely we’ll see more organisations adopting robotic process automation (RPA). It’s a type of business process automation technology that uses bots or AI workers to communicate with each other and carry out tasks previously done by people – again increasing both speed and accuracy.
As well as reducing the need for human employees in everything from window cleaning to customer service, it’s likely this shift will see many organisations strip out a layer of management, with fewer people needing supervision or HR support.
The potential impact on employment is complex. While some experts believe the growth of AI could make over 73 million jobs obsolete in the next decade, others argue that the tech sector could experience huge growth, with a far greater demand for developers, testers, programmers and specialists in these emerging fields.
Over the past few years, social media has been massively oversold, while being simultaneously misunderstood and misused. Its potential is huge, but beyond the hype, many organisations have failed to master the skills they need to make the most of it.
As 2020 unfolds, we’ll see the hype settle and more businesses find their feet, working successfully with experienced social media strategists across a range of channels.
Developers become more niche
As all of these technology trends evolve, the world’s going to need specialists who genuinely understand how to get the best from them. How to implement change, engage users, exploit opportunities and steer well clear of emerging risks.
The same is true in development. While recent years have seen many companies hiring full-stack developers, 2020 may well see the tide turn.
The push is likely to come from both directions, with developers carving out niche skillsets that let them focus on the tech they love, while organisations define more specific roles in the search for deeper expertise. And amid all this change and innovation, one thing’s for certain – it’s going to be an exciting time to work at the cutting edge.
Thanks Tim! Whatever 2020 brings you, at Nimbus we’ve got your back. So if you’d like to chat about hosting, pick our brains about websites or talk through something techy, we’re right here. Just call our friendly team on 0203 005 9181 or drop us a line at [email protected]. We always love a good natter.