Will Technology Reinvent ‘the New Normal’ in 2021?

2020 can only be described as an unpredictable year and one that brought with it some of the most dramatic shifts we’ve seen in the way we live and work.

In a year of uncertainty, it’s safe to say that technology was the one constant – the platform that transformed the fundamentals of commerce, healthcare, education, and financial services across the world.

Disruption is a process that plays out over time; sometimes slowly, but completely and the pandemic proved this to be true. It showed that it’s imperative for organisations to invest in a holistic and strategic approach to respond to the pace of disruption.

This investment calls for the convergence of technologies, to connect, collaborate and create new services that will ultimately help weather disruption.


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As we head into 2021, the MERAT region is centered around one common theme – how to transform for the long term?

Hybrid cloud for the hybrid workforce: A recent IDC survey showed that across the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa region, at least one-third of CIOs are planning to increase their spending on cloud.

Investments in cloud operating models that span public, private, and edge environments will continue to grow, enabling rapid scale and management of IT everywhere, with the security and visibility organizations need to keep their data protected.

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Edge opportunity comes into focus: The increase in remote work and learning combined with data-powered smart applications has meant that data workloads need to be managed and analyzed in real-time at the edge.

Across every industry, organizations are now looking to edge technology to improve agility and customer experiences. According to IDC, the worldwide edge computing market will reach $250.6 billion in 2024 with a compound annual growth rate of 12.5% over the 2019–2024 forecast period.

This means we’ll see even more investments into simpler and faster deploy distributed technology infrastructure, particularly within the education and healthcare sectors.

The promise of 5G: The pandemic may have slowed the deployment of 5G networks in non-GCC markets, however, 5G leaders in the GCC have continued to invest in the technology, and 5G activities in non-GCC countries are expected to gather pace again from 2021 according to the GSMA. Effective management of spectrum is key to maximizing this opportunity, and mobile network operators will invest in modern IT that “cloudifies” their network architecture – bringing us closer to widespread connectivity and edge processing made possible by 5G.

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Intelligent PCs will make work and play more seamless, intelligent and enjoyable: A Forrester Consulting survey revealed that remote work is likely to become the norm, with 67% of decision-makers extending remote working arrangements for some employees even after the pandemic, and 57% introducing more flexible work-from-home policies.

As people adapt to hybrid remote working models, technology will continue to evolve as well. We’ll see a combination of AI, cloud, and improved connectivity merge to improve user experiences with devices. AI will make PCs more seamless, customized, and hassle-free.

Intelligent software will help your device understand when you do not want to be seen in a video conference and new apps and services will continue to make collaboration easier and more organic, and the systems we’re using will also start to see upgrades in functionality.

Read also: Artificial Intelligence Centre Of Excellence meet to build capacity and grow the AI economy in Africa

AI disruption will unlock human potential: Technology will enable a greater sense of connectivity in a time where we’re working and learning further apart from our homes. AI and automation will reimagine the division of labor between humans and machines.

In this region, AI, IoT, and other new interfaces are already changing how organizations and governments operate, with the annual growth in the contribution of AI expected to range between 20-34% per year across the region according to PWC, with the fastest growth in the UAE followed by KSA. AI is also expected to contribute over US$135.2 billion in 2030 to the KSA economy alone.

We’ll offload more thinking tasks to AI instead of just mechanical ones, leading to faster, deeper, and more meaningful insights that enable us to shift our focus to greater innovation, purposeful work, and human connections.

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