Technology has become an intrinsic part of life, more so in the COVID-19 era. We have seen significant growth in consumer-facing technology such as digital payments, telehealth, productivity aids, communication tools, and robotics or AI-driven equipment. Some of these trends are irreversible and will continue to shape the technological developments of the next year. Research of technology trends at PGA Labs indicates seven trends.
1. Cybersecurity: The increased use of technological tools is exposing networks and applications to security vulnerabilities such as privacy intrusion of individual users and security threats to corporations. 2020 already saw a 37 percent increase in cyberattacks (first half of 2020 over H2 of 2019). Heightened cyber threats coupled with higher user awareness for security is going to increase the focus on cybersecurity. Additionally, with more ubiquitous and pervasive connectivity, the need for cybersecurity will expand from enterprises to individuals.
Populous countries like India have the highest numbers of internet users. It is not a surprise that the US, China, and India are the top three countries with instances of phishing and malware attacks. Cybersecurity issues are not only limited to stealing data or money frauds but also national security. Given its sheer importance, the Government of India is planning to bring a new cybersecurity policy to protect information infrastructure, build capability to prevent and respond to cyber threats.
2. Use of drones and robotics: While drones and robots were already in use in some specific cases like surveillance, videography, etc., the pandemic has accelerated their usage in other aspects of human lives. The pandemic made the world realise the dependence on human interactions, especially in labour and consumer-focused businesses such as retail, restaurants, and manufacturing. Many delivery companies and restaurants in the US and China launched contactless delivery services where goods are picked up and dropped off at a designated location instead of from or into the hands of a person.
The government of India has also allowed hyperlocal delivery start-ups to start testing Beyond the Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) drones for commercial deliveries and the regulatory framework is expected to crystallise soon.
3. Telehealth and Telemedicine: The pandemic led to a surge in teleconsultations not only for COVID related consultations but also for other chronic diseases. During this period, many governments, hospitals, e-pharmacies, and even corporations have adopted telemedicine in their employee wellness strategies.
An increase in digital penetration and changing patient behaviour will lead to rapid growth in telemedicine. We believe that telehealth will see rapid growth, much like what EdTech has seen in the last two years.
4. Cloud-native technologies will become mainstream: The lockdown and subsequent months saw a shift in the way organisations operate, with many employees working remotely. This required many small and large organisations to adopt technologies associated with remote working and move more workloads to the Cloud. In tandem with growth in cloud-native technologies, services such as communication, cloud sharing, personal productivity tools, and advisory support to pick the right cloud-based solutions are likely to grow as well.
5. Blockchain to play a larger role: While blockchain has been around for years, 2021 can see faster uptake of this technology in sharing and securing data which will be used in improving supply chains, and creating better healthcare outcomes. Scale blockchain implementations are yet to see success in India but increased digitisation and deeper penetration of Fintech will make the environment more conducive for blockchain to be adopted in simpler supply chains.
6. Internet of Voice: Voice search is here to stay. The global market for hearable devices is expected to exceed $40 billion. The Indian market has seen enormous growth in voice searches in terms of seeking out automobile specifications or aligning in-home security features. A combination of computer vision, vernacular speech recognition, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will shift the focus away from text to voice and video.
7. 5G technology rollout: Many countries such as South Korea and China are already in mature stages of building and deploying 5G technology. India will not be far behind especially as the number of internet users has swelled and data consumption has become akin to the need to consume electricity. 5G technology will provide high speed and reliable mobile internet. 5G is the first wireless technology designed primarily to support mobility services for machines and will eventually be used to connect with machines and pave the way for the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Indian government is likely to auction 5G spectrum over the next six months. To improve access to 5G, policy initiatives must ensure spectrum availability at affordable prices with uniform right of way for fiberisation.Madhur Singhal is Practice Leader, HiTech, IT and Tech, Praxis Global Alliance