Technological trends of coming years. What industries and companies are worth looking at
In what direction is digitalisation moving, and how can it help in business development? Today, Artur Safiulin, a columnist for Realnoe Vremya and economist with extensive banking experience, offers to discuss the development of digital technologies, the companies implementing innovative solutions, and the sectors of the economy that will benefit primarily from this progress. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the transition to digitalisation, starting the process of fundamental restructuring of the economy as a whole. The limiting factor was the realisation of the need for a precautionary approach in the development of powerful digital ways of controlling the individual. People are not ready to lose their freedom.
Let's look at where digitalisation is heading. The term hyperautomatisation is increasingly used. By this we mean the transfer to machines of the processes that require decision-making (smart management), not just routine tasks. There are already examples of creating entire business ecosystems. Analysts say that thanks to effective algorithms, properly collected data and more developed neural networks, the amount of working time spent by staff on collecting information, processing data, moving around the office and communicating with colleagues will be reduced by 80%.
The work with so-called big data is also developing. To unlock the potential of “smart” technologies, it is necessary to initially collect data specifically for their requirements. There is a rethinking of data “capture” coming and management methods, the expansion of server capacities, the formation of databases, and the construction of data centres.
In the development of artificial intelligence, there has been a transition to “explicable” AI, the design of which gives the opportunity to understand the logic of making a decision by a machine and adjust it, if necessary. For example, Google has developed its own version of “transparent” AI, which guarantees the impartiality and expediency of the decisions made. Mass adoption of this type of AI will not be in the near future, but the introduction of the “unexplained” is in full swing — in 2020, about 60% of companies planned to use it to increase revenue. You yourself probably notice the term “smartness” in many projects.
In the coming years, many companies will create virtual “digital twins” of business processes for better visualisation. This is a kind of peak of business digitalisation, to achieve which it is necessary to master the tools for working with big data, implementing algorithms and robotics.
To achieve the above tasks, IT infrastructure, such as cloud services, is required. In the context of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in cloud services, the demand for which is not going to decline — according to the forecast, by the end of 2021, 80% of enterprises will be twice as fast to switch to cloud infrastructure. Moreover, by 2023, all innovative solutions in the industry will involve the use of a cloud ecosystem for real-time analytics and resource management. In Russia, the cloud services market amounted to 86 billion rubles in 2019, with a forecast of growth to 155 billion rubles by 2023.
There are several problems that need to be addressed. In particular, due to the complexity of the solutions used, more and more different cloud solutions are used by companies and there appear version conflicts, inappropriate configurations, performance bottlenecks. The work is underway to standardise industry solutions, and there will be standard solutions for a wide range of tasks.
Another trend will be the emergence of hybrid cloud solutions — part of the enterprise infrastructure will still remain in the offices, since not everything can be transferred to the cloud (both technically and legally). In this way, customers' budgets will also be saved in order to transfer only necessary systems and pay for them as they are used. There is a multi-cloud format appearing — the company has several public clouds at once, which increases the capacity of the infrastructure.
The pandemic played into the hands of cloud providers, as customers realised that it makes no sense to invest in their own infrastructure, and it is much easier to use the services of providers. We are talking about cloud conferencing services, remote desktops, virtual whiteboards, software development and project management tools in the cloud. In 2020, there was a sharp increase in demand for such services. Businesses are becoming more loyal to the cloud also because of information security — it is difficult to invest in security as much as large cloud providers do. More and more solutions will be built on the basis of cloud model.
According to many analysts, now is the time of “zero digital trust”. Much more effort is needed to build a reliable cyber security, due to the transition to hybrid environments, the increase in the number of connected devices and the data they collect.
The security of corporate network when working remotely comes first for organisations. There will be a growing interest in IT solutions for protecting online resources. Losses from cyber attacks in Russia are estimated at 650 billion rubles annually. More than 67% of Russian companies already invest in cybersecurity.
Biometrics will soon replace traditional passwords. As analysts say in the report on the vulnerability of remote work (Duo Trusted Access Report) — about 80% of mobile devices used by employees have been configured to use biometrics.
Industries that will become champions of digitalisation
Finance plus technology: fintech services are projected to compete with traditional financial institutions in 2021. There will be a need for new points of contact with customers and, as a result, for the renewal of the digital infrastructure. The pandemic and quarantine have increased the number of online transactions, increased interest in investment and insurance products, and cash payments have fallen. Interesting new companies have appeared: Russian stock market simulator Fantsay Invest, British Currencecloud, Ukrainian PayCore.io and many others.
Retail plus technologies: contactless delivery is being developed, with the aim of minimising physical contact with the help of drones, robots and “smart” applications. Interesting companies: DoorDash, Grubhub, Uberreats, Nuro. The Russian online commerce market grew by 34% in 2020 compared to 2019, amounting to 2,7 trillion rubles.
Medicine plus technology: telemedicine is gaining momentum, there is already a large-scale diagnosis based on digital data about the patient. In 2020, about 1 billion virtual doctor visits were made in the United States. Analysts predict breakthroughs in the near future in biotechnology and robotic medical care. Interesting companies: Sense.ly, iClinic, Medved.Telemed, CheckMe.
Education plus technology: services that provide effective online interaction between teacher and student will continue to grow and develop. Interesting companies: Age of Learning, Yuanfudao, Outschool, Byju's, Udacity.
In conclusion, I would like to note that we are waiting for an interesting future, in which many services will be offered first in digital form. IT solutions will finally move from the status of auxiliary to system-forming ones. Digitalisation is becoming one of the major drivers of economic development in general.
At the same time, the more we go online, the more data is collected about us. It is easier to violate our privacy if the array of data falls into the wrong hands. This is the reverse side of progress. We still have to find some balance.