What to Expect From Innovative Tech in 2021 – What the Experts Say

2020 has been a transformative year for all industries. The effects of the pandemic have meant that adapting to new challenges has, for many, defined this period. However, despite these challenges, the technology industry has continued to provide a wealth of innovative startups and organisations looking to reimagine the way the world works, has continued to grow.

Here are the thoughts of 10 leaders from a number of innovative brands sharing their predictions for the year ahead. 

 

Our Panel of Experts:

  • Michele Romanow – President and Co-Founder of Clearbanc
  • Iggy Bassi – CEO and Founder of Cervest
  • Anna Brailsford – CEO, Code First Girls
  • Benji Vaughan – Founder and CEO, Disciple
  • John Morrison – SVP of International Markets, Extreme Networks
  • Liron Smadja – Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing & International Expansion, Fiverr
  • James Herbert – CEO, Hastee
  • Dr Tim Guilliams – Co-Founder and CEO, Healx
  • Spencer Tuttle – VP EMEA, ThoughtSpot
  • Michael Sentonas – CTO, CrowdStrike

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

techround

 

Michele Romanow, President and Co-Founder, Clearbanc

 

Michele-Romanow

 

“The most successful businesses in the world – like Airbnb and Uber – launched during hard times, and we’ll see the same thing play out in 2021. But capital is a huge barrier and thousands of founders don’t have access to VC networks because they didn’t go to the right schools or know the right people. Unfortunately, COVID made it even harder for founders because you couldn’t fly to pitch your company or meet new investors at events. “

“AI can remove the bias from start-up investments, and Clearbanc uses these algorithms to give UK startups fast and fair funding in just 20 minutes. Because we only look at a company’s economics, we’ve invested in 8x more women than the VC average and 70% of the companies we’ve backed in the UK are outside of London. Our speed and focus on data is crucial if we’re going to build a new generation of British founders across the country and I’m excited to see it come to life.  We’ve already invested over £30M in over 250 UK businesses.”

 

Iggy Bassi, CEO and Founder, Cervest

 

Iggy-Bassi

 

“2020 has been a year unlike any before. Almost every industry across the globe has been thrown into disarray by the effects of COVID-19. With this, politicians, scientists and business owners have been forced to focus their efforts on the pandemic, in turn pulling their efforts away from the battle against the climate crisis.”

“The new year will see a renewed, stronger spotlight on how organisations take responsibility for their climate security and the measures enforced to tackle risk, as the pandemic has brought a new impetus to overall risk frameworks, especially climate. So much so, we expect 2021 to see the first company declaring a goal that all its major business or financial decisions will factor climate into them. Measures are already being put in place to pave the way for this, for example the UK chancellor’s recent announcement to make climate-related financial disclosure fully mandatory by 2025.”

“The recent Biden win has already had the world speculating as to whether the US will re-enter the Paris Agreement, which would have an extreme influence on accelerating the demand for climate intelligence. Regardless, each country’s climate actions for 2021 and beyond will become more visible through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). More businesses will look to seek outside consultation to remain compliant with new guidelines, and enterprises will start to make radical changes to business operations and investments as a result of gaining access to new intelligence on physical and financial climate risk.”

“We also anticipate seeing an uptick in sustainable investments, as investors continue to hold organisations accountable for their transparency, adherence and action around climate risk. Equally, the move towards ‘Paris-aligned’ investing will see a rise in acquisitions within the climate risk space as its importance becomes ever more clear. Unlike the shock factor COVID-19 caused, we already know climate risks are happening. It will be those businesses who actively show improved financial disclosure on their climate security who will be the ones to attract investment in 2021 and years to come.”

 

Anna Brailsford, CEO, Code First Girls 

 

Anna-Brailsford

 

“Today, women make up only 17% of IT specialists in the UK, and a mere 35% of women pursuing STEM at higher education level – but this is changing. As we transition into 2021, companies globally will take the opportunity to reshape the way we work and fight to achieve gender parity in the workplace. By empowering women to upskill in technology, businesses across industries can establish a work culture that enables women to thrive.”

“At a time when businesses are facing increased uncertainty, a highly-skilled diverse team is invaluable and such a workforce doesn’t need to be solely outsourced. Instead, forward-looking organisations will look to their existing employees and provide opportunities to support upskilling and personal growth. Whether in person or through the use of a video-conferencing tool, businesses can partner with organisations dedicated to creating tailored training sessions – empowering attendees with new skills and perspectives. Not only does this help futureproof the business, but this also demonstrates a commitment to a company culture that values its employees.”

“In the new year, don’t rest on your laurels. Take the initiative to set an industry example for 2021, educate and upskill women. The businesses that get this right, and build a diverse and inclusive workplace for women, will thrive.”

 

Benji Vaughan, Founder and CEO, Disciple 

 

Benji-Vaughan

 

“If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that humans are infinitely adaptable. As we’ve seen traditional employers struggle to meet the demands of constantly-changing lockdown and furlough legislation, we’ve found more and more fledgeling entrepreneurs turning their own interests and passions into alternative revenue streams.”

“In order for this raft of new businesses to be successful, they need to bring their content and their audience together in one place – and this is where we can expect to see real growth in 2021.”

“The growth of online communities will skyrocket as an increasing number of entrepreneurs and creators recognise the value these networks can have in supercharging their business. Many of them are now using digital platforms to grow communities of like-minded individuals from all over the world.”

“When digital communities bring audiences together in one place where they can engage with the content they love, this space gives creators a real opportunity to build real value by monetising their fans with subscriptions, online courses, and premium content.”

“This kind of engagement and targeting is something that can’t be matched by traditional social media or mailing lists, which is why we anticipate sustained increase through 2021.”

 

John Morrison, SVP of International Markets, Extreme Networks

 

John-Morrison

 

“As a result of the ongoing pandemic and the related increase in remote work, organisations are going to focus even more on their networks in 2021. After all, they are an organisation’s lifeblood, especially during uncertain times.”

“But one of the main challenges for many companies next year will be that they need their network infrastructure to continue delivering optimal performance despite the inevitable budget cuts and resource constraints that the fallout of the global pandemic and the resulting recession will create.”

Network-as-a-service will emerge as one of the key enterprise IT and network connectivity trends of 2021 as it provides organisations with a cost-conscious solution to ensuring consistent connectivity. It also offers companies the flexibility to expand or reduce network services on-demand depending on business needs, without sacrificing performance.”

“2021 will be the year where many companies start to move away from investing in physical network infrastructure and instead consider outsourcing some or all network operations and management by committing to the network-as-a-service model.”

 

 

Liron Smadja, Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing & International Expansion, Fiverr

 

Liron-Smadja

 

“Whilst the pandemic has been incredibly hard on small businesses – one key learning has been the proof that many employees can work from anywhere, any time. Even as vaccines become available, it’s unlikely we will go back to the office full time. The demand for full-time office work simply isn’t there. Business leaders therefore need to ensure they are equipping their staff with the skills to manage and operate in a hybrid team.”

“The workforce structure itself is also changing, and we’ll see this coming to fruition in 2021. Many businesses don’t want to take the risk of hiring full-time employees to meet spikes in work that may prove transient – so we believe the year ahead will bring with it a continued trend towards agility. Bringing freelance specialists in to fully digitised workflows to help cope with this extra demand is something we’ve seen many businesses doing through 2020 – and expect the trend to continue to grow through 2021.”

“More businesses will recognise the value of hiring freelancers as a solution to filling in the skills gap they may have in their immediate teams. Opting to hire freelancers rather than full-time employees will help small businesses be able to acquire an agile, on-demand workforce which can help with their wider business goals without affecting their cash flow.”

 

James Herbert, CEO, Hastee

 

James-Herbert

 

“In what has been a tumultuous year for businesses across every industry, COVID-19 has given the UK an opportunity to show the effectiveness of innovative, people-led solutions to our shared challenges.”

“With the separation from family, friends and colleagues, a spotlight is being shone on our mental and physical wellbeing. Likewise, people are focussing on their finances in an environment of uncertainty. In fact, recent data from our 2020 Workplace Wellbeing Study shows that up to two-thirds (66%) of UK workers have been affected by personal finance-related stress because of the pandemic already.”

“As a result, solutions to financial health issues will increasingly become a business-critical part of employee wellbeing and retention. The earnings-on-demand sector – which enables employees access to a portion of their wages ahead of payday – has seen a dramatic increase in use in 2020 and is set to grow further in 2021. Our research suggests that 59 per cent of UK workers believe these schemes would prevent them from resorting to high-cost credit options such as credit cards and payday loans, which, given current uncertainty for millions of people’s financial futures, could be a key way to unlock financial freedom for millions of British workers.”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

techround

 

Dr Tim Guilliams, Co-Founder and CEO, Healx

 

Tim-Guilliams

 

“Amidst the pandemic, the benefits of AI in healthcare are being realised. Technology has been instrumental in finding treatments for COVID-19, monitoring its spread, and helping to alleviate the strain felt by medical practitioners by supporting their work. This expansion in use indicates a bright future for AI. Indeed, with projected investment expected to reach $45. 2 billion by 2026, the AI sector is set to transform healthcare.”

“The acceleration and automation that AI provides can be utilised to consolidate facts within medical data. It enables medical professionals to learn from, and apply knowledge to every aspect of healthcare from drug discovery and treatment planning, to bed admissions and patient care. As the healthcare sector faces further strain on its resources, the ability to harness AI is paramount. But while technology will feature heavily, the healthcare of the future is also dependent on medical professionals combining their expertise with these technological advancements to deliver the best possible care to their patients.”

 

Spencer Tuttle, VP EMEA, ThoughtSpot

 

Spencer-Tuttle

 

“Over a decade ago, seeing basic data skills on a candidate’s CV could really make them stand out. Today, those skills have become an expected norm.”

“As both the existing and incoming workforce become more data literate, analytics employers will start to expect skills as standard for all business professionals. It is likely that “data proficiency” will disappear from CVs within the next few years, just as “Office proficiency” has. With this transition, the industry has entered a third wave of analytics, with business users now expected to be able to interact with data and understand it by themselves, without the help of a specialist data expert. Moving forward, if you are unable to combine hard data and business context to inform execute business decisions, you will find yourself falling behind the expected skill level.”

“To become the ideal candidate for businesses in 2021 and beyond, workers will need to both understand and communicate data – because very soon, employers will not only demand but expect data literacy. To get ahead, these are skills which people should be investing time to acquire now if to get ahead.”

“And there you have it! 2021 could be the year that allows a lot of industries to come back from the brink. Equally, many industries are expecting another tumultuous year, but not without the positives of continued technological innovation across all.”

 

Michael Sentonas, CTO, CrowdStrike

 

Mike-Sentonas

 

“Nation-state adversaries remain active in the shadow of eCrime. Despite the proliferation of eCrime taking the limelight, 73% of 2020 Global Security Attitude Survey respondents believe nation-state-sponsored cyber attacks will pose the single biggest threat to organizations like theirs in 2021. Nation-state adversaries remain active while taking advantage of global issues spilling into cyberspace. This will result in more attacks against organizations and governments engaged in the race to find a COVID-19 cure through to some nation-states looking to benefit from the rise in financially motivated attacks.”

“In 2021, while all eyes are on the rise in eCrime, organizations will need to remain vigilant in defending against nation-states to prevent potentially devastating attacks.”