When it comes to reflecting on the year, Tech Trends of 2021 are about as pleasant of a subject as you can find. When thinking about our collective life in general, 2021 feels a lot like an extension of the end of 2020, which for a lot of us, is not a good thing. Covid continues to affect our daily lives. Sadly, many of us have lost loved ones or suffer from longterm or economic hardships. The supply chain has slowed and we find ourselves having to worry about things we didn’t have to give a lot of thought to before – though thankfully no more toilet paper shortages! We’ll take the wins where we can get them…
When it comes to technology, the year had some goods and some bad. The new normal has created and accelerated a lot of trends. And there have also been a few technology trends that have been unrelated or at least less obviously related to the coronavirus.
Some of the new tech trends have involved RCI products, others just affected all our lives. So here are the tech trends of 2021, at least as I see them, and a little on what to expect in 2022.
Video and Crime
At RCI, we provide Roanoke surveillance equipment as a crime prevention and documentation tool (among other uses) but this year saw a slew of a different type of crime videos.
We live in a world where nearly everyone carries a high quality camera in their pocket. This has inevitably led to people sharing more and more of their daily lives with friends and strangers alike.
Surprisingly for some people this has meant documenting criminal acts that they were in the process of committing!
The year started with an attack on the capital. While this was shocking, perhaps more surprising still was the number of people who filmed themselves engaging in criminal activity!
Video has been pivotal in several highly publicized criminal trials in 2021 and a shocking amount of those videos were filmed by people perpetuating the crimes.
Whether the well-publicized nature of video used in court cases will eventually lead to better behavior, or just less documentation of it, is yet to be seen.
Remote Working – A Tech Trend The Coronavirus Accelerated
Workforce statistics reveal that over a quarter of US workers were working remotely in 2021.
In fact working from home has increased so exponentially that it now has an well-recognized acronym – WFH.
With the new ubiquity of work from home, certain new technologies have thrived. I’ve written several blogs about working from home already where I’ve gone into detail on some of the tech adaptations we’ve all made. But here’s a brief summary of a few.
Video meetings in general, and Zoom in particular, has become an essential tool for both business and personal use. You know something is an important product when it becomes a verb i.e. “Google that” or “We need to zoom later.”
VOIP and cloud telephone systems have continued their rise. Being able to plug a phone into the internet so that it then connects back to the office has greatly increased efficiency and decreased costs.
While wireless phones have always been a possibility, they have grown by leaps and bounds in the past year. Today you can get wireless desk phones that work identically to the traditional wired models. As I’ve written, this is a game changer for older and more difficult to cable buildings.
Social Media Backlash
Social Media companies, once the entrepreneurial darlings of elected officials on both sides of the political spectrum have this year experience bipartisan backlash.
While the reasons behind frustration with social media companies sometimes caused disagreement, one place where both parties came together is the way social causes addiction and body dysmorphia in younger users.
And the backlash was not only heard in the halls of Congress. Mainstreet families also found themselves concerned for their children’s safety.
Where will it lead? That’s an open question. Social networks are such a part of personal and business life it’s doubtful they will go away and it’s certain they will fight any moves to reduce their influence. In a year, perhaps we’ll be having a difficult conversation but I non-controversially predict 2022 will have more argument over the size and influence of social media in our lives and the lives of our youth.
Digital’s Death March
With the continuing rise of VOIP, Digital telephone systems march closer to death. Just this month, one of our two telephone manufacturers, ESI, announced it was ending its digital line of telephone products. They were one of the last manufacturers to offer digital communication systems. We will miss the reliability of digital products. But hopefully, as VOIP continues its ascension, the quality will continue to improve and internet telephony will one day reach the sound and reliability quality enjoyed by traditional telephone systems.
The Continuing Rise of Fiber & High Speed Internet
The rise of internet telephony along with so many students having to learn from home has helped to hasten the spread of high-speed broadband internet services. In fact, in Virginia, 2 Billion in grants has just been announced to continue this expansion. This is great news for people in rural areas and students/workers with limited high speed internet service available.
For a long time, many in this country have been left behind as infrastructure grew in more affluent areas. One bright side of the pandemic is it has shined a light on the inequity in technology. Hopefully more actions will continue to be taken to create internet equity.
When it comes to top 10 lists and listicles, there will always be some taint of the author’s perspective. I make no claim that this is the definitive list of what mattered the most about 2021 or even what mattered the most in tech trends in 2021.
I’m sure I missed a few 2021 tech trends, probably many. And I’d love to hear your perspective. When it comes to technology, how did things change in 2021 and what are you expecting tech to do in the New Year?