Due to the pandemic, there has been an increasing necessity for businesses to rapidly adapt to the changes times, as not to succumb to the loss of their entire business model amidst a global health crisis. Over the past year, government IT teams have been very busy establishing remote working conditions for employees, carried out cloud migration and digital transformation projects, and established an ever-growing perimeter over their cybersecurity measures.
Because of the forced mass shift toward remote work, many new technologies have become a non-negotiable necessity for businesses to survive. Furthermore, we all know that tech is an ever-changing field, constantly evolving, independent of the state of the world. As a result, this year we’re seeing major shifts that began in 2020, and will certainly continue in 2021 as the momentum for the evolution of tech increases.
Here are some tech trends to keep an eye out for in 2021:
1. A movement in Automation driven tech for businesses.
Before the pandemic, automation was predominantly used for back-office functions such as approving invoices, triggered emails, sending and receiving payments, etc. In citizen-facing applications, however, automation has become increasingly common with government employees being forced to work remotely. Automation has not only kept employees safe during the pandemic, but it has improved the productivity and efficiency of a number of government services targeted toward the public. If such tools weren't available, people may not have received unemployment benefits or food stamps during the pandemic, as those processes previously relied on the capacity of human labor available. In 2021, it is predicted that even more citizen-facing applications will be powered by automation. Agencies can automate many citizen request forms, identifying instances when a signature is missing and resubmitting the form for it to be corrected, for instance. It’s a huge game-changer for government businesses overwhelmed with the number of assistance requests they must provide to the general public.
2. AI learning in the government.
In 2020, automation and machine learning became increasingly commonplace for government agencies. Data volumes are so large that humans cannot easily process them. At the same time, raw computing power has grown dramatically as well. Because of this, agencies now have the infrastructure necessary, the desire, and the comfort level to rely on AI. This is why it is crucial to develop algorithms that don't just sit on top of all that data, but that are capable of self-learning and reprogramming themselves. Government adoption of AI is crucial both to ensuring strong geopolitical positions and augmenting the capabilities of human-based processes.
3. Remote-access technologies an emerging hot commodity for government agencies.
Business continuity was a major focus for IT professionals in 2020 as the demand to get remote employees connected as quickly as possible increased dramatically. With an increase in cyber threats, malware attacks, and hackers afoot, agencies must implement systems for remote users to be able to work, as well as keeping the delicate information of the company as safe and secure as possible. This implies that the focus will be on securing users and applications, rather than networks themselves.
4. The abilities of the government in data analytics are progressing and will move toward predictive analytics.
Agencies should also integrate predictive analytics into their workflows as a result of the explosion in processing power and data volume. Humans will always play a role in decision-making, but predictive analytics will become more reliable and powerful in the coming year and beyond. The Department of Agriculture, for instance, is turning to predictive analytics to assist farm, forest, and ranch managers in making sustainable decisions regarding their lands. Predictive analytics also enhances the Department of Defense's ability to anticipate when machine parts need to be replaced, enabling vehicles to function more efficiently and for longer periods of time. In 2021 and beyond, predictive analytics will be utilized in an ever-increasing number of applications.
5. CMMC will drive continuous monitoring.
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification will be the security standard for the entire DOD's supply chain, while increasingly moving the government and the defense industry away from basing their decisions on a single assessment or audit. CMMC instead emphasizes continuous improvement in supply chain development and collaboration. Continuous monitoring necessitates as much a change of mindset as it does a technological advancement and allows a greater understanding of any given contractor’s data, systems, and network footprints. In addition, ongoing monitoring offers agencies the opportunity to gather information on a company-by-company basis, which will be a big help for businesses in 2021.
As we can see, there are a lot of exciting changes happening in 2021 with tech. This year we will be able to observe significant advancements in automation, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics, but also a more comprehensive security posture that includes everything from cybersecurity advancements to continuous supply chain monitoring.