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By Vatsal Jain

While most technology predictions for 2021 are positive about the digital impact, there are also cautionary and even warning indications about the threats of cyber-attacks and loss of data security and hegemony. Policymakers will play a significantly huge role in such an ambiguous future.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the 5G tech will kick off more connectivity prospects, and work from home (WFH) will speed up. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for healthcare tech and drove even more gig workers. Further, in terms of innovation, we will see more unicorns.

As we march towards the coming decade and long for a better year, scroll down to read the key trends in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that we can look forward to.  

1. Healthcare Goes Digital

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The COVID-19 crisis has speeded up the deployment and use of ICT in the healthcare sector. The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine elaborated how technologies such as telemedicine allow forward triaging that enables patients to be effectively scanned without face-to-face interaction as the initial step and decreases in-person visits to hospitals.

“Although we are yet to see a thriving deployment of COVID-19 mobile apps for contact tracking, except in some countries, ICT will play a huge role in delivering COVID-19 vaccines efficiently in 2021.”

2. The Saga of Big Tech and Antitrust Issues

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The antitrust lawsuits against Big Tech – Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook – are expected to persist, not only in Europe and the US but in other countries too.

While the policymakers allowed the tech firms to break new grounds and flourish, their near-monopoly in domains such as social media, e-commerce, searching, and device ecosystem has triggered the regulators such as the European Union (EU) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine their misuse of monopoly power. With Google and Facebook acquiring stakes in Reliance Jio, it might be just a matter of time before the antitrust issues knock the doors of the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

3. Universal Connectivity

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Nearly half of the global population (about 3.8 billion) uses mobile internet, and 3G and 4G have covered almost 50% of the global population. As such, the challenge is to cover the remaining half in the rural and semi-urban regions with the purview of mobile broadband.

4. Automation to Assist

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We will see increasing mainstreaming of AI-based automation in all spheres of life. Even though automation may replace jobs in particular areas, it has significant complementary impacts on labor thus boosting efficiency, increasing earnings, and spurring the demand for labor.

5. On-demand Work Will Reach New Heights

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Gigs or on-demand work – enabled via digital platforms – is anticipated to mushroom and keep on questioning the conventional forms of employment. As highlighted in the Fairwork India 2020 report, workplace environment, wages, and their management by digital solutions will continue to remain under scrutiny.

The policymakers across the world are expected to devise regulations and laws on platform work and employees to encourage the positive sides of gig work, simultaneously minimizing the potential adverse effects.

6. Data Nationalism on Rise

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‘Data Nationalism’ is not simply a momentary political phenomenon subject to the peaks and troughs of protectionist emotions, but the expression of a deep unease with the past couple of decades of rising globalization compounded by the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica incident.

Over the year ahead, we are expected to see increasing cross-border data flow barriers and a rising tendency of governments to impose data localization norms, in order to gain data supremacy.

7. More Unicorns in the Field

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Start-ups are anticipated to play more vital roles in the digital economy, persisting to innovate and challenge the incumbents. Nykaa, Pine Labs, Razorpay, Unacademy, and many more have joined the Unicorn club in 2020, spanning across industries such as EdTech, FinTech, media, e-commerce, and cooperative work. This trend will continue to go upwards in 2021 with more “soonicorns” advanced to unicorns.

8. WFH is Here to Stay

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The COVID-19 crisis is expected to extend work from home (WFH) for the majority of the IT workforce.

“We are likely to witness at-scale adoption of remote workforce and project management tools, video digital assistants, communication services, and home office security products to encourage safe and flexible WFH models.”

9. Privacy Remains at the Helm

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We genuinely hope that governments worldwide will pass and enact laws to preserve the privacy of respective citizens. In parallel, we expect to witness initial measures in executing data sharing blueprint for non-personal data (NPD), to utilize the perks of data economy for the benefit of communities at length.

10. Cyber-attacks Will Still Be a Concern

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Owing to digitization, cyber-attacks will continue to rise. Cybersecurity experts have revealed that a cyber-attack will occur every 11 seconds in 2021, with cost to the worldwide economy hitting US$6 Tn. Netizens have to be cautious and security-aware to secure their information resources.

Sadly, companies will continue to offer little respect to data security and protection, with breaches occurring across verticals. As such, we have to preserve not only our health but also data assets in 2021.

What are your thoughts on these ICT trends?

1 Comment

  1. Yes, we do need to be aware of the pros and cons of ICT’s. Interesting read!

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