Who would want to make any predictions for 2021 based on the annus horribilis of 2020?

Indeed if 2020 has taught us anything it’s that maybe it’s simply too hard to think ahead. We can hope, but make a prediction and you’re bound to get it wrong anyway! If only we could learn to expect the unexpected!

If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me” says the sceptical Banquo in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and his wariness remains a sound guide.

Nonetheless the Tech & IT industry have put their best soothsayer costumes on and peered into their crystal balls, even allowing for the fact that the unpredictable rate of innovation will always spring surprises. For instance, where would Tik Tok feature if you were forecasting the most popular social media video platform just a couple of years ago?

There’s general consensus that continuing developments in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will be highly significant especially in the Healthcare and Retail sectors, even if IT budgets may lag previous year’s investment levels.

On that, Gartner say there will be a dip from 5.4% to 4% in overall IT spending this year. The ‘Enterprise Software’ segment will have the strongest rebound “due to the acceleration of digitalization efforts by enterprises supporting a remote workforce” followed by spending on ‘Data Centre Systems’ driven by expansion from Cloud Hyperscalers and Enterprise digital transformation.

Forrester echo the predicted decline in IT spending seeing a 1.5% fall in US tech investment alone, but also believe that “CIOs will continue to accelerate their spend on cloud, security and risk, networks, and mobility”.

The potential of 5G has appeared on many a prediction over the last few years, which probably accounts for some introspection this time around. The team at Analysys Mason think that 5G will not “provide any meaningful ARPU increase in 2021” but do believe that more 5G services for enterprises will begin to emerge.

Any forecasts would do well to ensure that increasing concerns about privacy and security, not least from a number of worldwide authorities and regulators, are built in to their assessments as they have the wildcard potential to change the landscape very swiftly.

But one of the most hoped for predictions is that this year, and as soon as possible, we can all return to some kind of normality – and that’s something we can all agree on.

Categories: RMC Thinking