Digital transformation in 2021 will mostly be fueled by COVID-19 uncertainties and the lessons businesses have learned through the 2020 recession. Every sector has to adapt to the radical changes that the pandemic has precipitated. Companies will no longer be passive consumers of digital technology; they now have to align it with their mission and vision and bring all employees on board. There is a need to automate manufacturing and customer interactions via the Internet of Things (IoT). AI has also never been more urgent. The same goes for the integration of smart technologies (e.g. smart labels) in supply and distribution chains.
Digital transformation across different industries
Digital transformation varies from one industry to another due to differences in capabilities, systems, and cultures. In this article, we will take a closer look at the digitalization initiatives happening in four key industries.
The backbone of banking and finance in 2021 will be robotics, analytics, and cloud computing. Robotics, through machine learning, has significantly reduced human error in banking. Cloud computing, on the other hand, has made financial management easier for both financial institutions and their customers. Speaking of customers, digital technology has already given birth to mobile banking apps, virtual customer assistance, and smart ATMs. In 2021, banks and other financial institutions will need to keep enhancing their performance through self-service and automation.
Education as we know it is now history. Traditional lessons belong to the past. Instead of going to school, the global pandemic forced the school to come to our homes. Everything became virtual, which has both advantages and disadvantages. But what’s needed for virtual school to really work? Technology is the most essential element when it comes to virtual education. To enable tasks like streaming videos and downloading documents, a strong network connection is needed. In addition, students – and teachers – will need to connect to the internet and must have a personal device (tablet, laptop) on which to do their work. Since protecting the online presence and personal information of young children is of utmost importance, parents and teachers also need to know how to protect their data and the devices on which it is stored.
Health and pharmacy
The Internet of Things (IoT) is now a key part of manufacturing and supply processes in the pharmaceutical industry – earning the moniker PharmaIoT. This technology has enhanced quality control by ensuring safe and hygienic packaging as well as ensuring strict adherence to standard storage requirements – for example, monitoring drugs’ temperature. Through smart labels, IoT monitors the integrity and quality of pharma products during transit.
Wearable technology is also central to digital transformation in the health industry. Patients are now able to track their health conditions in real-time through smartwatches and devices like Fitbit. IoT will keep disrupting this industry in 2021 and beyond.
Another major development in the healthcare industry which was accelerated due to the pandemic is the advent of telehealth – the ability to schedule virtual visits and consultations with healthcare providers instead of needing to go in person. In other words, telehealth makes use of technology and electronic information to support long-distance healthcare. Of course, if you do still need to go in person, you can make use of a free route planner which will help you keep track of all these visits.
Technologies like the internet, videoconferences, streaming media and wireless communications will play a major role in disrupting health education and administration.
Music and eCommerce
For a long time now, artists have been disenfranchised by the streaming economy whereby music rights holders benefit unfairly at the expense of actual musicians. But the lockdown, with the help of digital technology, has brought about new trends such as ticketed livestreams and virtual merchandise that could change musicians’ fortunes for the better. These platforms enable artists to interact and conduct business directly with their fans, without middlemen. Virtual concerts are quickly becoming the key revenue drivers in the industry, which is a big shift from a couple of years back when artists only interacted with online fans for engagement. User-generated content (UGC) music revenues will also grow immensely in 2021 thanks to the growing popularity of dancing and singing challenges on social media.
Music production software and collaboration tools have taken a huge shift as well. Case in point, Virtual Studio Technology (VST) plugins will become extremely popular in 2021 as more artists embrace virtual music production. VSTs, when plugged into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), mimic the analog equipment that artists use in physical studios. That makes it easier, faster, and affordable to create and record music.
The effect of the post-pandemic 5G rollout
Remote work goes hand in hand with videoconferencing and digital collaboration. And with more people working remotely and kids attending school online, the need for reliable connectivity will expedite the rolling out of 5G networks in the developed world. Huawei and other leading tech companies already started a 5G deployment before the pandemic, so there is hope that the technology will go mainstream within a few short months. And with leading handset manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung, Xiomi, and Apple manufacturing 5G devices for all price tiers, the technology might become standard by 2022.
On a related note...work-from-home isn’t going anywhere anytime soon
The world has not seen the last of smart work-from-home technologies. Platforms such as Skype, Pexip, Webex, RingCentral, and Microsoft Teams will only grow in relevance in 2021. Their explosive growth will necessitate better security and improved user experience, which in turn will increase the demand for secure connectivity software such as SD-WAN and VPN.
Why cybersecurity should be at the top of your resolutions for 2021
Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity issues have increased with the growth of the remote workforce and shift towards digitalization. Businesses now have to invest in hardware and software for their networks in order to get a clear view of their attack surface. They will need to give devices and software official authorization to access their systems so that they can easily identify intrusive malicious software and block unauthorized access. The devices businesses authorize will then need to be secured to seal any loopholes through which malware can attack a secure network.
That’s not all. Restrictive security guidelines for personal devices have to be implemented, too, to prevent unsecured BYOD devices from compromising secure networks.
Other cybersecurity resolutions include:
- An increased need to document security configuration standards for mobile devices and laptops in the workplace in order to paint a complete picture of potential threats. On top of that, all operating systems and software used in the workplace network should be constantly monitored by Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP).
- Audit logs need to be monitored, analyzed regularly, reviewed in real-time, and maintained not just for compliance reasons but mainly for the purposes of blocking potential attacks and damages.
- Administrative credentials that are poorly managed or easy to guess make it easy for hackers to access and steal data from sensitive administrative accounts. That is why companies need to regularly review administrative privileges at the workplace. They need to implement multi-factor authentication on top of training senior staff members on how to create unique and complex passwords.
Digital transformation has been a hot topic for years, but the pandemic has now made it a top priority. You have no choice but to transform your systems and processes if your business wants to compete in this new digital world. Luckily, it is not too late to make some resolutions for the next one-to-five years – just make sure security is at the top of your list.
Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.