5 Tech Trends That Will Shape the 2020s
I love new starts, and 2020 is a new decade full of potential and opportunities in which technology will certainly play the starring role. My certainty comes from the fact that the world needs technology (and always has) to evolve. From the invention of the wheel and axle to the SpaceX rockets of today, we depend on technology to propel humanity forward. As a global community we rely on technology to keep us informed, connected, and safe. Right now, the global spread of the coronavirus is being identified, mapped, measured, forecast, and fought through the latest in AI, data analytics, and vaccine development—technologies the world couldn’t have conceived of even 100 years ago when the Spanish Flu outbreak killed hundreds of millions worldwide.
From quantum computing and servant robots to space elevators, we are a world rich in prodigious expectations for what technology can do. While innovators and futurists are tackling the big leaps, where should the strategic business focus be? What technology opportunities and advances are most important for business leaders to pay attention to in the 2020s? Here are my predictions:
AI: Get Smarter, Faster
Our thirst for data cannot be quenched. But the more data we have, the harder it is for us, mere humans, to use it to learn and act. AI, however, has answers. The vast processing power of AI allows us to build systems that can learn from vast amounts of data. Over the next decade, businesses will not only want but need to tap into that powerful learning capability to understand the marketplace, the customers and their opportunities. In my opinion, we are living in an enlightenment period and it’s a topic I cover often here on CIO.com.
South America: An Innovative Tech Force to Leverage
South America has been a growing IT outsourcing destination for years, but only in a few technology functions. While help desk and support centers have seen strong growth and performance across the continent, security concerns and political unrest have kept a large majority of businesses from outsourcing software development and more sophisticated innovation work to South America.
With several Latin American nations making high appearances on the Global Innovation Index (Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil in 2019), businesses are taking note of strong economies and innovative institutions across the region. As countries that have been longtime centers of innovation, such as Japan, face the challenge of declining populations, the young and growing workforce of South America offers opportunities to businesses. In the decade ahead, I believe more and more businesses will look to South America for support of their software development and strategic innovation work.
Amazon: Setting the Pace, Disrupting Plenty
Remember when Amazon, the company that just hit a $1 trillion market cap, was simply a modest online bookseller? Wow, times have changed and so has Amazon’s business strategy. Now the dominant force in the American retail industry and growing force in media and technology, Amazon will leverage its innovation prowess to continue to redefine our lives—and not simply our shopping lives. From payment processes and systems—Amazon is pioneering the 100% cashier-free department store—to delivery with its own fleet of trucks and drones, the company will be reshaping and disrupting plenty of industries along the way.
In the decade ahead, Amazon will be the market’s bellwether of innovation and economic health. Business leaders would be wise to pay attention to its strategies and how it is reshaping the numerous industries it touches.
Healthcare: The Data to Help & Heal
The healthcare industry will make giant leaps in patient and disease understanding and healing. Data science and AI now allows for greater and faster understanding of the diseases, genetics and environmental factors that shape our health. With the power to crunch data faster than ever, the 2020s will be an unprecedented era of discovery and understanding in the healthcare field. In this moment of opportunity and increasing knowledge for the industry, numerous businesses will also have the opportunity to support and innovate alongside healthcare, pharmaceutical, and medical device firms, building the systems and the tools that make health and healing possible.
Diversity: This Is the Decade
The prior decade put the entire technology industry on notice. The imbalances in the workforce and in leadership no longer make sense. And, the lack of diversity is a detriment to innovation, we learned. In the 2020s, the lessons learned in years prior will be put to work as forward-thinking businesses look to build the most diverse teams the industry has ever seen. Businesses that ignore pay gaps and creative hiring approaches, avoid more progress and have only innovation to lose.
The decade is already off and running and full of tech promise. It will be defined by AI and learning, boosted by South America’s innovation force, shaped by Amazon, invigorated by medical data, and driven by diversity. Now that’s a new beginning worth embracing.