Digitalisation is occurring at every corner of the globe, and in 2021, it is anticipated to accelerate at a much faster rate, predicts Telenor Research in its annual Tech Trends report. From new technology to combat loneliness, to remote education, compounded by rising securing concerns – Telenor Research predicts five of the trends that will shape 2021.
For the sixth consecutive year, Bjørn Taale Sandberg, Head of Telenor Research and the Telenor Research team have analysed and reflected on the year that passed.
“The pandemic has triggered us and nearly every industry around the globe to adapt at a rate once thought impossible. The past year has proved that digitalisation will be key to tackling major societal issues and to facilitate new ways of working and living in 2021,” added Sandberg.
The annual Tech Trends report reveals that Covid-19 has given rise to a growing percentage of people who feel isolated and lonely, triggering a host of new health concerns.
The report predicts that a new generation of chatbots, specifically designed to engage and help people who struggle with loneliness, will be launched. Drawing on AI, these personalised digital helpers can respond to questions, initiate calls, offer entertainment, and conduct enriching activities that enhance feelings of being connected.
Telenor research believes that new autonomous modular robots will work in the fields, outside the cities, supporting farmers who struggle to find agricultural workers. Mechanical weeding with machine vision will streamline the use of pesticides, thus reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.
The report states that in 2021, those who are not equipped with proper password solutions or who do not maintain strict digital hygiene will experience a surge in what can be defined as ‘password panic’.
“As employees waste precious time struggling to remember their login details, we expect to see greater implementation of user-friendly security solutions in 2021. Password managers across sectors or iris and fingerprint scanning solutions will be more common, ensuring efficiency, security, and one less pain point for workers,” predicts Sandberg.
The report also points that in 2020, hordes of workers left their offices to work from home. This shift will create new expectations among employees in 2021, especially concerning increased flexibility to work from home or other locations regularly to enable a better work-life balance.
"In 2021, we expect many companies to provide employees with more flexibility to carry out their work outside the office walls. To ensure the necessary competence for the future way of work, managers will increase the upskilling of employees in cyber security, digital hygiene, and the use of digital tools and technologies," explains Sandberg.
The report furthermore adds that while the Covid-19 lockdowns have led to a wave of innovations and important progress in digital learning, it has done less to reduce the global education gap. Millions of children and young people who currently lack internet access at home suffered the loss of education in 2020 when schools went into lockdowns.
Hence, Telenor research predicts that, in 2021 there will be an escalating number of new and creative methods of remote, digital learning to emerge from the rapidly advancing virtual learning sphere. Those equipped with network access and internet-capable devices will be able to take part in this digital leap and reap the rewards.