Strategic platforms with advanced analytics, automation, and AI are on tap for 2021, according to Deloitte.

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Deloitte has released a slew of predictions for 2021, including in the enterprise tech, data and tech, media, telecom spaces.

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Deloitte picked resilience as the theme for its 12th annual tech trends report; a word that became a mantra in nearly every organization after their 2020 plans were upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a webinar Monday, the firm identified nine trends separated into three groups that focus on how organizations can use technology to digitize, modernize, and enhance their businesses. Some have been spurred by COVID-19 and some by changes that have been ongoing for years, said Scott Buchholz, a managing director with Deloitte Consulting and emerging tech research director.

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The first group is dubbed “Strategy, engineered,” and addresses the notion that the corporate and tech strategies “have really become intertwined as we move forward and increasingly become one and the same,” Buchholz said. This means the C-suite has to think about how the tech choices being made potentially in IT impact the enterprise, and vice versa, he said.

The second group Deloitte identified is “Core revival,” which addresses whether increasingly core systems running in the back, middle, and front office need to be refreshed, modernized, or moved to the cloud, Buchholz said.

This is becoming an increasing focus as organizations seek to reduce their technical debt, he said.

The third group is “Supply unchained,” and addresses the stark reality of discovering that supply chains were not as resilient and robust during the early part of the pandemic as organizations believed them to be.

“The tide went out and we’re starting to see organizations getting more serious about digital transformations across supply chains from sourcing to procurement and everything in between,” Buchholz said. As part of this, organizations will focus on the ability to connect systems across the enterprise and apply AI and ML and increasingly accelerate their ability to go from sales opportunities to sales value, he said.

The back office in particular, is getting transformed, Buchholz added.

The human experience

Other trends for next year are a focus on the human experience and rebooting the physical workplace, according to Mike Bechtel, a managing director and chief futurist at Deloitte Consulting.

While there was an early sense among leaders that this would result in productivity decline, “our research indicates it’s not only climbed but increased,” he said.

Physical workspaces will be reconfigured to be less about individual productivity and more about collaboration and team rooms, Buchholz said.

Another trend will be tools for diversity, equity, and inclusion. While 90% of organizations acknowledge that this is important to address, Deloitte’s research shows that only 13% are ready, Bechtel said. What used to be the exclusive purview of HR, now it’s also the responsibility of the CIO and CTO, he said.

There will be tools used in recruitment to detect bias in job postings and to identify optimal candidates for promotion from within the organization. There will also be tools for inclusivity, retention, to measure insights, he said.

Machines and humans needed

Deloitte also issued a set of data-related trends. Specifically, “MLOps: Industrialized AI,” which the firm described as the application of the engineering discipline to automate machine learning models to shorten development life cycles and industrialize artificial intelligence.

“The future is the ‘and model,’ and will be comprised of both humans and machines,” Buchholz said. Machines are very good at doing thousands of real-time recommendations, he said. To achieve the benefits and scale of AI and MLOps, data must be tuned for native machine consumption, he said, and this will cause organizations to rethink data management.

The second trend within data is “Machine data revolution: Feeding the machine.” This focuses on changing the insights derived from data. The third data trend is “Zero trust: Never trust, always verify.”

For too long, organizations have assumed they could protect the organization’s boundaries like a physical perimeter, with anything inside considered safe, Buchholz said. “The reality is many people have snuck past the front door, so people are rethinking how we do secure and change in posture and architecture that will dramatically improve the security of most organizations.”

One way to do it is to “throw a lot more money at security,” but another is to move from more of a “paper posture to an engineering posture. We want to build security in” at the outset and not validate it at the end, Buchholz said.

This requires the use of more automation “to do more with less and thinking about how we’re putting cybersecurity in our organizations,” which have a “huge opportunity to improve their cyber posture and amplify the back office.” This will also amplify the agility of IT, while lowering costs at the same time, he said.

Tech, media, and telecom predictions

Separately, Deloitte released a set of predictions in the tech, media, and telecom verticals. Among them are that:

The pandemic drives cloud growth: Revenue growth will remain greater than 30% for 2021 through 2025 as companies migrate to the cloud to save money, become more agile, and drive innovation.

Unleashing Industry 4.0 with the intelligent edge: In 2021, the global market for the intelligent edge will reach $12 billion, continuing a CAGR of around 35%. That increase is being driven primarily by telecommunications companies and their expanding 5G networks, along with hyperscale cloud providers.

Education and the enterprise opt for virtual reality: Led by purchases by corporations and educational institutions, sales for enterprise and educational use of wearable headsets for virtual, augmented and mixed reality—collectively known as XR or digital reality—will grow by 100% in 2021 over 2019 levels.

Bigger, sharper TVs will prevail: 2021 will see the rise of 8K TVs (33 million pixels) as prices fall from an average of $3,000 to $1,500. Deloitte is predicting that sales of 8K TV will reach one million units.

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