According to Forrester’s Predictions 2021 report, next year we’ll see more companies increasing their spend on technology operations, products, and ecosystems. 2020 has been an interesting year for growth in the enterprise blockchain and DLT space. Next year, 30% of firms will invest more in cloud, security & risk and networks, while 35% of companies are expected to double down on workplace AI (Artificial Intelligence).

The report, available in full here, states that firms did things that once seemed impossible when they were faced with the Covid-19 pandemic which took the world by storm. “The value of your company depends on how customer-obsessed, resilient, creative, and adaptive you are in jumping to the next growth curve in your industry. Much of your success will depend on how quickly and how well you harness technology to both enable your workforce in the new normal and build platforms that differentiate your firm. Indeed, technology acceleration is the common thread in our predictions for the coming year. Yes, that means investing in new technology.”

Public cloud infrastructure market set to grow

Forrester believes that 30% of firms will continue to accelerate their spend on cloud, security and risk, networks, and mobility in 2021. “Leading CIOs will embrace cloud-first and platform strategies for speed and adaptiveness, eschewing stovepipes for end-to-end solutions. Interviews with leading CIOs found that they are collaborating more across organizations, objectives, and budgets, extending IT-business partnerships into enterprise-level shared accountability. They will also invest aggressively in employees, breaking down old ideals and resolving resistance within the organization.”

Forrester predicts that the public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35%, to $120 billion in 2021, and that Alibaba Cloud will take the number three revenue spot globally, after AWS and Azure. “Mid-pandemic, the four largest public clouds maintained very strong revenue growth (AWS: 29%; Microsoft Azure: 47%; Google Cloud: 43%; and Alibaba: 59%) as companies accelerated cloud migrations and rushed out new apps to meet fast-changing consumer demands.”

As per the report, CIOs will also “make the needed investments to foster social collaboration, make information easier to find and use, and provide security that’s less distracting. Organizations with CIOs who are slow or unable to adapt will have at least two problems on their hands: massive attrition and getting mired in short-term fixes, like tech modernization, simplification, and consolidation.”

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Increased focus on workplace AI

The workplace landscape which has changed radically in 2020 because of Covid-19 will continue to evolve in 2021 and new technology will be needed to support it. “Many firms will invest in conversational artificial intelligence, machine learning, and hardware advances to help smooth some of these workplace changes: Work-from-home staff will see EX automation perform tasks that were previously done in the office or that held higher labor costs, such as employee self-service, customer service support, and document extraction”, reads Forrester’s report.

“We forecast that by the end of 2021, one out of every four remote workers will be supported by new forms of automation, either directly or indirectly. Direct support will be the rarer form — giving a bot to individual workers to support their daily journey. But indirect support will blossom, as robotic process automation (RPA) bots combined with conversational intelligence and other intelligent automation will handle business tasks often invisible to the home worker.”

In a statement for Cointelegraph, Allistair Rennie, IBM Blockchain’s general manager, said that predicting 30% of enterprise blockchain projects will move into production in 2021 is consistent with what IBM has seen with its clients until now. “Due to the increased strain that the pandemic put on supply chains, clients are finding there is a dire need to accelerate their digital transformation to emerge stronger than before. We are seeing both expansions of existing blockchain projects and new ones. The most successful of these are the ones that are underpinned by solid business use cases and have a clearly defined value to add to the business.”