2021 will test the permanence of these digital tools that make life in a COVID world possible. Blockchain, eCommerce, SaaS, AI, and IoT are creating and disrupting industries at a speed we’ve never seen before. 2020 was a big year for tech companies. According to MarketBeat FAANG stocks are valued at a total of $6.07 trillion as of December 22, 2020.
Today, we’re covering some of the top technology trends ripe with opportunity and bound for disruption in 2021.
Bitcoin’s relevance continues to rise
Blockchain is a decentralized, internet-based technology used to safely and securely manage, access, and trade cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) and information.
The platforms effectively distribute power and risk across all players, regardless of personal reputation or financial backing. Blockchain is leveling the playing field by creating a space where VCs, angels, and the public all have equal opportunities. Blockchain startups are discovering new ways to automate contracts and process payments while maintaining a high-security level.
As we become evermore technology-focused, the threat of hacking and our need for the protection of digital assets grows. Gameflip is just one of the many companies using cryptocurrency to create a safer buying process for digital goods.
Digital trophies, skins, and weapons hold significant value to gamers, and many will pay to gain access to them, but without a safe way to process payment, they’ve been left sitting on accounts, unused. Gameflip is working to empower gamers to buy and sell precious digital assets on the blockchain, a billion-dollar industry, and growing.
Companies like SparkleCoin are making great strides in bringing about widespread adoption of blockchain marketplaces by empowering anyone to complete online transactions for physical products and everyday services with cryptocurrency. Technological improvements like this could completely transform business as we know it and promise secure transactions for every person, every time.
“The seismic shifts in the business landscape are causing bouts of jitters among the budding entrepreneurs, but they will have to be pragmatic enough to understand the dynamics, accept the technological disruptions and adapt accordingly,” advises Ashish Mittal, Angel Investor and Founder of TurningIdeas Ventures.
We’ve only seen the very beginnings of blockchain and you can be sure to hear a lot more about it in 2021.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is king (and queen) fueled by remote work due to COVID
Recurring revenue models are quickly replacing pay-per-use models in almost every industry, from groceries and office supplies, to entertainment and automation platforms for business.
Software as a Service (SaaS) models is being applied across the board to automate routine purchases, delivering them to our doorsteps and computers on a scheduled and recurring basis. As more and more businesses switch to a subscription-based revenue model, businesses and consumers alike can accurately and systematically predict monthly expenditures to better plan for innovation and improvement.
In 2021, startups should embrace the growth of SaaS and look for areas of specialization to increase opportunities for differentiation.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Remote work make IoT highly relevant, again
A Business Insider Intelligence report predicts a spend upwards of $6 trillion on IoT solutions over the next five years, reaching over 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020.
Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed an astronomical increase in the number of connected devices, including, but not limited to, home appliances, entertainment electronics, security systems, and transportation. Combined, technological innovations and machine learning have proven themselves effective in automating routine tasks and eradicating inefficiencies and mistakes caused by simple human error.
Embedded geospatial data
Embedded geospatial data continues to further the growth of IoT by predicting human routine, adjusting to customized preferences, and automating mundane tasks, thereby allowing us the clear-headedness to further innovate.
According to CBS, FireEye was hacked as part of a much wider cyberattack. This is only the beginning of a much bigger effort targeting US tech startups and enterprises. In 2021 you can expect to see increased efforts towards the security of IoT devices even as Mike Bell, EVP IoT, and Devices at Canonical warns us of at least two or three large-scale attacks on IoT-related hardware to come in the next year.
Startups in the IoT space should double down on efforts to secure devices and privacy while learning from the successes of automatic software updates in the consumer space.
True Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI starts to take shape and becomes useful to end-users
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) form a power team in alleviating customer service constraints and providing a quicker and more satisfying shopping experience.
Automated chatbot messaging
Automated chatbot messaging tools leverage AI to create a personalized, interactive, and increasingly helpful customer service experience to answer commonly asked questions, address personal account issues, and drive quicker conversions. By replacing the need for a human to human interaction on basic and common inquiries, our teams have been freed from mundane tasks to focus their efforts on positive innovation and higher-level questions. In turn, conversion signs have increased across industries, and customers report feeling a higher level of satisfaction and confidence in their purchases and the companies that provide them.
Enterprise messaging bots have spurred the growth of company-built chatbots that run on company websites and in native platforms like Facebook and Slack. Using AI, chatbots will grow in their capability and response to provide even better customer service, decrease conversion times, process payments, and even automatically market your business.
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) gets closer to generating conversations that feel more real
The growing abilities of and access to speech analysis tools within AI are helping to improve human connection. In analyzing and comparing phone conversations completed at call centers, AI is able to recognize patterns and voice inflections that tell us far more than the average employees can. By studying the response, words, tone, and pauses, AI can provide customized scripts in real-time that result in better understanding and more productive calls.
Over the next few years we expect to see enormous AI disruptions in process-based jobs from administrative assistants and brokers to manual labor and customer facing retail positions. AI will help us automate and optimize routine tasks and conversations, paving way for human employees to do what they do best.
Technology becomes part of human life
Disruption, a powerful word that gained popularity in 1990s tech business to describe an innovative application that challenges market leaders, introduces a new way to do something and effectively transforms whole industries.
Disruptive technology will continue to grow in 2018, following game changing trends spurred by companies like Airbnb, who transformed the adage of hotel chains, Amazon, who changed how and where we shop, and Virta Health, who is working to connect patients in need with doctors in real time.
eCommerce grows as Shopify, Amazon, and BigCommerce solidify their positions as the leaders of eCommerce
With the coupling of eCommerce and AI, a sharing economy is taking hold and growing quickly, finding new ways to connect a growing human population while decreasing the barrier to entry. We’ve witnessed the rise of transportation sharing services like ZipCar and Uber, which empower urban dwellers to cut down on their environmental impact by sharing vehicles. And the server sharing market, lead by Amazon and Google, makes it possible for early-stage startups and budding bloggers to get up and running quickly at a fraction of the cost of buying an expensive server.
2021 looks to be an exciting year for any startup or entrepreneur ready to make waves and embrace technological trends in SaaS, AI, IoT, eCommerce and blockchain.