The 21st century has been a century of technology change. Several highly commercial and prevalent technologies during the early 2000s have entirely vanished, and new ones have taken their place. Many completely new technologies have also come up, especially in the arena of computer science and engineering. In 2021, these new technologies are only likely to grow and perhaps even reach the common person’s hands.
Top Trending Technologies in 2021
1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning once represented the cutting edge of computer science. When these technologies were created in the last 20th century, they hardly had any applications and were, in fact, mostly academic. However, these technologies have gained applications over the years and reached ordinary people’s hands through their mobile phones.
Machine learning represents a computer science field in which an algorithm can predict future data based on previously generated data. Artificial intelligence represents the next step in machine learning, in which an algorithm develops data-based intelligence and can even carry out essential tasks on its own.
Both artificial intelligence and machine learning requires advanced knowledge of statistics. Statistics help you determine the results that your algorithm might throw up for a particular dataset, thus evolving it further. The proliferation of machine learning applications has meant that the number of jobs in this field has also grown.
Machine learning is among the leading technologies of this century. A career in this domain can expose you to advanced computational infrastructure and novel research in the field. Having a job in machine learning and artificial intelligence domain(s) places you at the forefront of technological development in the field of computer science.
In fields such as retail and e-commerce, machine learning is an essential component to enhance user experience. The product recommendations that you see on such sites are generally a result of a machine learning algorithm analysing your previous searches and recommending similar products to you. In the healthcare field, machine learning can help analyse data to provide treatment insight to physicians.
2. Data Science
For much of the initial part of the 21st century, data science was the next big thing. Data science has been around for much longer than just the past twenty months. For centuries, data analysis has been an essential task for companies, government, institutions, and departments. Analysing data helps understand the efficiency of processes, conduct surveys of the workforce, and gauge people’s general mood.
However, as of today, much of data analysis has turned digital. Data analysis is among the first jobs that computers are turned to for. In the early 2000s, data analysis was so prevalent that students were being taught introductory courses on the subject in school.
In the 2020s, data analysis is likely to blow up more than ever. With computational technology growing at a more excellent pace than ever, the data analysis capabilities in people’s hands are likely to increase. Newer, faster data analysis algorithms and methods are likely to come up and be put into practice.
The benefit of having a career in data science, regardless of the domain your company works in, is that you are an essential part of the firm’s overall business. The data that you produce and the interpretations that you provide are likely to be a necessary part of the business strategy of any company that you serve.
In retail and e-commerce, data science is widely used to determine campaigns’ success and the general trend of various products’ growth. This, in turn, helps develop strategies for the promotion of particular products or types of products. In health care, data informatics can be essential in recommending low-cost options and packages to patients and allowing doctors to choose the safest yet most effective treatments for them.
3. Full Stack Development
Full-stack development refers to the development of both client-side and server-side software and is bound to be one of the top trending technologies of 2021.
The 21st century started with the dot com boom, and the internet, a relatively new phenomenon, was spreading across homes in the world. In those days, websites were no more than simple web pages, and web development wasn’t the complex field that it is now.
These days, web development involves a front end and a back end. Especially for fields related to services, such as retail and e-commerce, websites include a client-side—the website that you see—and a server-side—the website that the company controls.
Generally, web developers are given the job of handling either the client-side or the website’s server-side. However, being a full stack developer gives you and your company the flexibility of working on both ends of the web development spectrum. The client-side or front end will generally require knowledge of suites such as HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap. The server side requires knowledge of PHP, ASP, and C++.
4. Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automation isn’t just about robots. It is a lot more about the automation of processes than anything else. Before computers, most processes involved some human intervention. Humans ran even manufacturing machines, and large-scale manufacturing employs thousands of people.
However, since computers have taken over most processes, manufacturing hasn’t been left untouched either. All domains, be it manufacturing or information technology, now involve some automation in their processes. The amount of human intervention in these processes is only reducing, and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Jobs in robotic process automation typically involve a significant amount of coding knowledge. You would typically need to write code that would enable computerised or non-computerised processes to be done automatically without human intervention.
These processes could mean anything from automatic email replies to automated data analysis and automatic processing and financial transactions approval. Robotic process automation makes tasks considerably faster for the common consumer by making such approvals automatic based on certain conditions entered by the programmer.
In sectors such as financial services, robotic process automation can reduce the lean time to approve financial transactions online. It improves the productivity of the company as a whole, as well as that of its clients.
5. Edge Computing
During the early part of the 21st century, cloud computing was considered the next big thing. In cloud computing, data is uploaded to a centralised repository that may access it regardless of location. Cloud computing began to be used in commercial devices only close to 2010. By the time it was 2020, cloud computing had become a prevalent technology.
In just about a decade, cloud computing had turned from being an esoteric term to being a part of a few devices in almost everybody’s house. In 2021, cloud computing is no longer among the top technology trends but rather a thing of the past.
The next step after cloud computing is edge computing. It is very similar to cloud computing, except that data is not stored in a centralised repository. In areas where network access might be difficult or impossible, cloud computing is challenging since you can no longer access the repository where your data is stored. What edge computing does is transfer data closer to the location where it needs to be used.
Edge computing has excellent applications in the Internet of Things devices. As far as IoT is concerned, a physical device you need to control with your smartphone should not need to access data from a centralised repository that might be thousands of kilometres away. Instead, data should stay as close to the device as possible.
Edge computing allows the data to remain at the ‘edge’ of the cloud and the device for processing so that commands can be followed through in a smaller amount of time.
Edge computing jobs have only begun to grow with IoT devices’ proliferation over the past few years. As the number of these devices increases, edge computing roles are likely to become more prevalent and lucrative, placing it firmly among the top technology trends of 2021.
6. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have both been technology buzzwords for over a decade now. However, these top technology trends have so far failed to materialise into widely available consumer products. The presence of virtual reality and augmented reality in our real lives is minimal.
Virtual reality has been used widely in video games thus far and augmented reality-based apps did become popular for a while a few years ago, before waning. However, the best way virtual reality can become a top technology trend for the future is by making it a part of people’s daily lives.
Over the past few years, virtual reality has also begun to find applications in training programs. Another domain where virtual reality experiences have been useful is in providing experiences to museum-goers. The trajectory of the rise of virtual reality is very similar to that of 3D technology—it might take just one application, such as cinema in 3D, for the technology to become mainstream.
Virtual reality jobs do not currently require a lot of training. Simple programming skills should be enough to land you a job, alongside an interest in the field and the power of visualisation. With millions of virtual reality devices being sold worldwide every year, it is only a matter of time before we see VR and AR take over our daily lives.
You have probably heard of Blockchain in the past few years, mostly in the context of cryptocurrency. However, Blockchain has grown to have several different applications. The significant part about Blockchain is that it is never under the complete control of a single entity due to being entirely consensus-driven. It can never change the data you store in the Blockchain used widely in sharing medical data in the healthcare industry.
Due to the security that Blockchain provides, this data can be shared among parties pretty much seamlessly. Another application of Blockchain is in maintaining the integrity of payment systems. Blockchain-based payment systems are currently highly immune to external attacks and theft. Blockchain can also be used in tracking the status of products in a supply chain in real-time.
The number of blockchain jobs has unexpectedly increased in the past few years and continues to increase. However, the number of applicants for such positions has also been growing in tandem. To bag a job in the blockchain domain, you need experience in multiple programming languages and in-depth knowledge of data structure and algorithms, OOPS, relational database management systems, and app development.
If there is one technology, the knowledge of which is still little, it is 5G. Companies and governments around the world have spent years preparing for the rollout of 5G technology. In several countries, this technology has already been rolled out and achieved a significant amount of success. Since 5G is currently in a nascent stage, it is available only to a limited extent and is also relatively expensive.
The number of compatible devices with 5G is also not appreciable, although most new mobile devices being released have 5G compatibility. 5G has a much greater capacity than the current 4G technology, with an average network speed of 100 Mbps and a peak speed of 20 Gbps. If you have multiple mobile devices in your home, 5G will probably connect to these devices and use them concurrently significantly easier.
When 5G technology was only in the development stage, 5G jobs were few, and most such jobs were allocated to employees within companies. However, companies have begun to hire network engineers over the past few months, specifically for jobs associated with their 5G networks.
As 5G technology has become more prevalent, there has been a scramble among networks to purchase spectrum and roll out the technology first. This has led to the requirement of a larger workforce focussed on the development and release of 5G networks.
9. Cyber Security
The number of devices and coverage about digital technologies has been rising, hence the threat by cyber-attacks on such devices. Cyber attacks can take many forms, from phishing to identity theft, and the need to guard the greater user coverage of the internet is greater than ever.
Simple antivirus software is no longer sufficient if you want to save yourself from cyber attacks. The development of better, more sophisticated technologies to guard against cyber threats is the subject of multiple academia and industry projects worldwide.
Companies are involved not just in making new commercial technologies to protect individual domestic consumers against cyber attacks. Some of the most frequent cyber-attacks are government data repositories or the storage facilities of large companies. Nearly all large companies need a way to protect their data and their employees’ data and associated firms.
Jobs in cybersecurity have been growing at thrice the pace as other tech jobs, primarily due to the reasons mentioned above. Not only are these jobs incredibly well-paying, but they are also some of the most critical positions in any firm.
Especially in domains such as e-commerce and retail, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be underscored. Thousands of customers store their personal and financial data on retail companies’ websites to allow for easy payments. They also have accounts and passwords, which need to be protected. Similarly, in the healthcare industry, patient data needs to be protected against cyber threats.
The year 2021 will see the global economy’s reemergence, and new technologies will almost certainly drive this. The top technology trends mentioned above are likely to take over our regular lives in the coming years. Jobs in these technologies and skills associated with them will be extremely invaluable, and gaining education related to them is bound to help you considerably in your career over the long term.