Well, that was a challenging year. If the Mayan calendar had ended in 2020 rather than 2012 we may well have just accepted our fate (given that it was written in the stars). But instead what we saw was incredible resilience, flexibility and resolve, with a shift in focus to our families, communities and the most vulnerable amongst us.
2020 saw technology ebb ever further into our day to day with Zoom calls, Slack check-ins and Miro boards, alongside rapid vaccine development, accelerated chatbots releases and the scaling of enterprise IT infrastructure at a rate that no one really thought possible.
The year that was for Waracle was a strange one, but we have been incredibly fortunate to grow our business and our culture in the best way possible, with our people front and centre delivering work with real purpose for our visionary clients.
Now, as we snuggle up in front of Die Hard (or Home Alone) with a Baileys and a mince pie (read: box of celebrations), it is time to look forward to the year to come.
Here are our tech predictions for 2021!
Mobile is still the imperative
You may think that every business has adjusted to a mobile-first or mobile-only business model by 2020, but you’d be wrong.
It is incredible how many businesses across financial services, energy, healthcare, retail and other sectors either have no mobile solution, or an unloved, unused and outdated app.
If 2020 taught us anything about how we interact with businesses, it was that mobile is the most timely, flexible, scalable and simple way to interact with your chosen provider for any good or service.
For businesses who have taken mobile seriously for the last ten years, we predict that they will focus on consolidation, where discrete applications become feature sets in their core solution.
As our Business Development Director David Romilly put it “Mobile became the dominant form factor 10 years ago. Mobile will still be the dominant form factor in 10 years time.”
Extended reality comes of age
We’ve been building augmented and virtual reality solutions for the last five years, but the advent of lockdown changed the way that extended reality solutions are viewed by the public. They are now well and truly mainstream.
The beauty of extended reality is that it’s potential hasn’t really yet been realised. Yes, we have IKEA apps that place furniture in our rooms, Google arts & culture placing million year old extinct creatures in our kids bedrooms… but the full potential of extended reality for brand building, learning and development, virtual try ons, remote engineering, problem solving and more has still to be explored.
We can see 2021 being the year of extended reality for luxury brand experiences, for financial literacy and money management, for off-shore wind farm engineering and rapid upskilling of workforces.
It isn’t just snapchat filters and Pokemon Go, you know!
Machine learning becomes mainstream
Machine learning and artificial intelligence really does bring to mind the Terminator franchise. It seems to conjure some dystopian version of the future in our minds’ eyes.
Yet, machine learning is really just the process of training models on large data sets, which a human couldn’t possibly process whilst looking for trends, identifying commonalities and establishing patterns.
The value of machine learning is that it can be trained on uncommon data sets, whether images, text, time series or more. This means that problems that aren’t just related to numerical challenges can be addressed like the size and shape of cancerous skin growths, the seasonal requirements on transport hubs or the early indicators of fraudulent card payments.
Machine learning is more accessible than you might think, and 2021 will see a huge growth in the development of data labs for testing out useful hypotheses.
Bitcoin’s new heights drive blockchain interest
Bitcoin’s 2020 had been a little up and down until Q4 when the bulls were firmly back in charge. A new ATH in December 2020 has everyone shouting about Bitcoin as the new gold and institutional money flowing into the virtual asset at a rate of noughts.
The underlying technology of blockchain and distributed ledger technology will see a ground swell of interest in 2021 with businesses beginning to decode how the cryptographic proof of work and proof of stake models can be adopted within their operational frameworks.
Whether it is supply chains, international payments, rewards offering or any number of other applications creating trust and transparency via distributed ledgers will become commonplace in 2021.
Voice quietly becomes louder
Many of us have Alexa on call 24/7. But apart from asking her about the weather and getting her to play musical statues with the kids, is the voice UI really where we expected it to be?
Whether it is banks offering account services via voice or digital health apps offering medication reminders to encourage treatment adherence, we can see 2021 being the year where voice breaks through the novel and becomes tangibly useful for our most important interactions.
As with any predictions, we understand that our crystal ball is foggy. But upon reflection, we’d just like to thank all of our people, our partners and our clients for working with us in 2020 and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy new year.