Tech Trends to Watch in 2021: Thoughts from CES

Tech Trends to Watch in 2021: Thoughts from CES

Last week I had the honour of virtually attending CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the world's most important electronics fair, where the most disruptive technological innovations are presented year after year - a big thanks to COVID for digitizing it 😅

Among other learnings, I want share here the standout tech trends that are sure to make waves in the coming year, noted from a keynote by Steve Koenig, VP of Market Research at CTA (Consumer Technology Association), and Lesley Rohrbaugh, Director of Market Research at CTA. 2020 certainly took us by surprise, and has been a struggle on many fronts, but it also accelerated innovation in a way we've never seen before.

"Innovation accelerates and multiplies during economic recessions, only to be triggered when the economy begins to recover, leading to powerful new waves of technological change" - Christopher Freeman, British Economist.

In a study conducted in April 2020, McKinsey showed us that tech adoption advanced like never before in a variety of sectors.

Let's dig a bit deeper into these sectors. Although in aggregate the use of technology accelerated, there are six distinct trends that should be on everyone's radar...

1. Digital Health

The digital health universe continues to expand and meet overwhelming demand—from the most common applications (e.g. monitoring our day-to-day lives with a device), to digital consultations, to more advanced developments like support robots for medical personnel.

The future of innovation in digital health is marked by both the use of AI for medical diagnosis and the application of virtual, augmented and mixed reality in medicine, the latter perhaps with greater relevance given the rules of social distancing.

2. Digital Transformation

"We have witnessed two years of digital transformation in two months." - Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft.

Big companies are looking to the cloud, and who could have predicated a health crisis would be the catalyst for that push?

On the other hand, it's clear that digital transformation isn't just for large organisations anymore. Small businesses are going digital (and fast). Fitness, education and legal companies in particular have seen sea change.


3. Robotics and Drones

Robots to the rescue! In reality, robotics are becoming increasingly necessary for safety purposes. From 'robotina' for housework, to other more advanced robots that monitor the health of critical patients, all are seen as an aid “from another world”.

Just a few years prior, we humans opposed the development of robots for fear of being replaced. Some of that inhibition is still warranted, but they're slowly but surely evolving into something we need to lead normal and healthy lives, especially when we consider the implications of social distancing.

Autonomous Delivery Systems

4. 5G Connectivity

The fifth generation of mobile networks that we've looked forward to for so long is finally here to change the way we communicate. This new mobile technology goes further than its predecessors, allowing everyday devices—like your refrigerator or your car—to connect, learn and educate in real time.

5G Networks

5. Smart Autos

From cutting-edge car design to transportation services, although trends in autos were already gaining relevance in years prior, they also benefited from the rules of social distancing, the necessary optimisation of processes and the growing awareness around environmental impact.

Electric, autonomous and C-V2X (vehicle to everything) design are key in new automotive developments.


6. Intelligent Cities

Finally, smart cities, a complicated trend to be sure, as it was necessary for a number of actors and resources to converge for our current state of affairs.

Again, credits are taken by COVID-19. Cities as a whole have used this crisis an opportunity to implement network sensors, smart kiosks, public data boards and the like.

Buildings are also becoming smart, all under the aim of incentivising and safely welcoming employees upon their return to the office in some locations.

Encouraging A Return to work


2021 may come with more surprises than its predecessor. Today the unexpected event was a pandemic, tomorrow it may be something bigger, something unimaginable, and you have to be prepared.

"If you are not reinventing your business, someone else is" - Salim Ismail, Exponential Organizations.

What's your take on the matter? Let's talk about how these trends are impacting your business. Give us a shout!


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