Predictions, predictions, predictions. After a year of unpredicted chaos, the penchant for renewed predictions has definitely surged!

Here are seven predictions for the world in general:

  1. Developers will have more say We will see an aggressive ‘shift to the left’ across all industries, where CIOs will depend more on their development teams to guide the technical direction of the company. Historically, development teams have taken a top-down approach to move their data to the cloud, but—as have many things in the world—this changed with the pandemic after the reinforcement of Cloud-based environments. In 2021, we will see DevOps teams continuing to have far more say in the data strategy process, and as a result we will see a greater increase in the mobility of workloads, correlating with an increase in cloud data management techniques.  
  • A greater focus on protecting and managing work collaboration platform data

Distributed workforces were already on an upward trajectory but have been completely kicked into overdrive with the pandemic. With many companies extending work-at-home opportunities through mid-next year, reliance on Cloud-based collaboration platforms will only increase. This means even more teams will be looking to harness the power of the Cloud to store an influx of data from collaboration platforms. In 2021, this will create more focus, awareness and need for data protection and management for collaboration software.  

  • Software-defined models will become more prominent 

Appliances will diminish in their appeal as we shift towards software-defined models. Some 10 years ago, appliances were these shiny new toys that everyone wanted to get their hands on; however, they have not had the staying power we predicted they would. In fact, we have seen a shift towards ‘backup-as-a-service’ away from appliances. Remote-working has had a real impact on how we dealt with hardware in 2020 that will continue into 2021 as software-defined models take centerstage. 

  • Machine learning will become democratized

Already, we are seeing organizations recognize the unlimited opportunities available to them through data they have already collected. Data re-use will be a big trend we see organizations shifting to 2021, with many leveraging the power of machine learning to help them do this. This is still in the emerging stages; however, its adoption will increase as organizations recognize how machine learning can help them analyze and re-use data that they already have. By leveraging machine learning in the Cloud, organizations will ultimately become smarter.  

  • Compliance regulation fines will be trending down  

Data privacy and privacy regulations will continue to gain traction in 2021. In particular, I predict we will see the first proposed federal regulations around privacy in the New Year. However, compliance fines will continue on the downward trend we saw in 2020. We saw a massive jump in compliance fines in 2019, which solidified how seriously GDPR, CCPA and others needed to be taken. Now that this attention has been received and the awareness is there, the shift will be more towards more consistency of privacy regulations at the federal level.  

  • Containers will not become mainstream in 2021 

Predictions over the last few years have pointed to containers becoming mainstream, but ultimately, they will not cross the chasm in 2021. Large enterprises will continue to build on Kubernetes, as they enable portability to move outside of the Cloud and unlimited scale; however difficulties associated with deployment will limit its adoption beyond large companies. As part of this continued adoption from enterprises, there will also be a need to develop a Kubernetes-native backup because these environments are so fundamentally different than those based on earlier technologies. To accommodate this, we will see an emergence of new solutions that either introduce or expand data protection to Kubernetes applications. 

  • IT spending will rebound: security and hardware will be a priority 

Despite the economic turbulence brought on by the pandemic, we will see a five to 10% increase in general IT spend in 2021. Allocations will likely focus most on security, general system modernizations (backup, applications, cloud migrations, etc.) and refreshing hardware. In addition, organizations will take a look at what was ‘on hold’ in 2020 to address IT spend that happens on an annual recurring basis. For example, hardware should be refreshed every three years, and if the pandemic halted an organization’s attention to hardware, it is fair to say that will make its way to the top of the list in 2021.  

In the USA, presidential elections tend to show historic slowdowns in how dollars are allocated, due to the uncertainly of the results and the eventual candidate who will occupy the White House. In 2021, we will see dollars funneled in ways that reflect the outcome—IT spend will stabilize as we see a true downturn on the pandemic or progress in a vaccine and a return to neo-normality.

Predictions for the Asia Pacific region (APAC)

  • APAC markets to accelerate all things digital with China as their reference

China’s innovation in payments and e-commerce is a glimpse of the future for the rest of Asia.

Cashless, contactless, video and online—everyone and everything is going digital and nowhere have people been able to adapt to this mode of operating as China. Chinese banks are providing remote on-boarding and eKYC for Chinese citizens to open accounts and trade stocks and conduct finance in Hong Kong—all without being in the city.

  • Potential for advancing digital identity and digital trust enablers

The spotlight on data privacy, digital identity and data protection has intensified. Singapore and Hong Kong’s track-and-trace technologies have highlighted the advancement of technologies like AI, IoT and GPS to create virtual geofencing that can determine if citizens have left the known environment of their home; China’s facial recognition and advanced sensor technology have all been highly effective but have also created heated debates on data privacy and trust, such as in Australia. Asia’s trust levels around data are relatively higher than that of their Western counterparts. Could this lead to faster development of digital identity and digital bio-passports for a post-COVID landscape? 

  1. Increased digital integration to drive digital economies and society

China and APAC are expected to lead global GDP growth rates heading to 2021. A World Economic Forum study shows that an estimated 60–70% of new value created in the economy over the next decade will be based on digitally-enabled platforms. This could set APAC countries to drive much broader and tighter digital integration for business and government to build more seamless business and resilience. This further puts a spotlight in managing data movement, data protection and availability.