So, 2020 didn’t go as planned … for really anyone or anything. All five of my predictions from last year were impacted (four negatively but one positively) by COVID.
Let us see if I can do better this year.
1. Work from home will become a standard option for many employees. This is a result of COVID. I think many companies were hesitant about the idea of working from home. Before 2020, only a few percent of jobs were “work at home.”
However, there are a number of companies (major ones such as Amazon) that will make working from home an option for a number of their employees. Companies have found cost savings (no need for a big office) and employees like the flexibility of being able to live anywhere.
Of course not all jobs can be made remote, but don’t be surprised if you see “remote option” on more job listings.
2. The 5G roll out will cause disruptions in traditional media companies. Cable companies are at an obvious threat with 5G. The speeds for 5G can rival many physical cable connections such as optic, meaning for many people their cell service might be enough for their TV and internet connection.
However, we should start seeing content created and delivered differently as well. News, sports and entertainment already have supported “mobile,” but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more strategies around mobile first or mobile only for video content.
The big cell carriers also may want to have a play on content as 5G opens up more bandwidth, and they will need to give their customers more reasons to upgrade.
3. There will be a stronger demand to access public records. This partially comes as a side effect of COVID. Many states have created COVID dashboards showing which locations have been hit the hardest.
I think the question is going to be “Why not dashboard more government data?”
Most data that is being shared by government agencies are buried in websites and are often in formats that are hard for the general public to digest … such as spreadsheets. But think about other datasets that should be made easily for the public to acquire (perhaps by using their new 5G connection): crime rates, pollution levels, tax collections, budgets, business filings, etc.
Wouldn’t it be great if the information that the government has is published and easy to get to?
4. Microsoft will continue its hot streak and become even more user friendly. I am not a fan of a lot of Microsoft’s user interfaces. I find them clunky and messy. But I will say, they are starting to get better.
Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has become less monopolistic and controlling and has become more user centric and even more open. It has been slow and Microsoft still has a long way to go, but I think in 2021 you might see more praise from users and shareholders.
5. I am putting augmented reality back on the list for 2021. I predicted it would gain more market acceptance in 2020, but I think we were all a little too distracted to embrace new technology.
Augmented reality (AR) is when a computer adds information to the real world (virtual reality is when the world is completely made by a computer). The technology is tricky as you have to train a computer to see things in the real world and then add objects to them in a way that makes sense.
Perspective and distance matter, location and angle can change how things are seen, and it needs to tell the difference between different types of objects and their rules (birds can fly but cars do not). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you see more AR in retail and gaming.