“As work becomes less of a place you go and more of a task you perform, employees expect to be able to work whenever they want, wherever they want.” Cile Montgomery, senior consultant with Dell Technologies Unified Workspace

Meeting your employees where they are has changed from a nice “perk” to a “must-have.” In order to effectively move to the flexible work environment employees requires a different way of thinking when it comes to IT delivery and security.

As 2020 is finally starting to come to a close, it’s time to look ahead to 2021. The trends that were put into place because of the twin forces of COVID-19 and rapid growth in the retirement of baby boomers and influx of the next generation leads us to believe that there are 4 key trends that will emerge next year.

Key Technology Trends for 2021

2020 taught us that work can be done from anywhere. As author Diane Mulcahy tells human resources giant ADP, “The traditional way of work mandates that work is a place. Working means being at the office, at your desk and in your chair. The new workplace will be more flexible, more variable, and more dispersed. Offices will emerge at home, in co-working spaces, in small commercial buildings, and at beach houses. Workplaces will become wherever work gets done, not a place where workers go.” In order for work to become something we do, not just somewhere we go, businesses will need to implement the following technologies into their IT infrastructure:

Unified-Communications-as-a-Service or UCaaS – Unified Communications is a term that is used to describe the integration of vital communications methods. At a minimum, UC includes voice, video, instant messaging, and presence. Unified Communications comes in two delivery methods: On-premise or as-a-Service (i.e.in the cloud). Both have their benefits but for the majority of businesses, UCaaS is going to be the de facto solution for 2021.

Why?

Flexibility, scalability, agility. Due to UCaaS being a subscription service, you only pay for what you use. It also means that you can scale up or down depending on your business needs. UCaaS also makes mobility much easier to achieve. With features such as find-me/follow-me, call forwarding, and mobile applications, employees can collaborate from their cell phones as if they were in the office. For this reason, we see UCaaS as the #1 technology to consider for 2021

Digital Workspaces or Desktop-as-a-Service – Another of the “as-a-Service” offerings is digital workspaces or also known as Desktop-as-a-service. Just like UCaaS, DaaS is a cloud solution that also allows for significant growth. Some of the main benefits of DaaS:

● Users can log in to their desktop from any internet-connected device and work as if they were at their physical office computer.

● Deploying a DaaS solution can aid in the deployment of a BYOD strategy, allowing your employees to use whatever device they are most comfortable while also maintaining the security of your corporate data.

● Increases data security. Because DaaS is housed in a data center that is maintained by the provider, and not the actual device, the data contained on it is automatically more secure. If a

device is lost or stolen, the actual data is not accessible. Additionally, cyber risks change at the drop of a hat. Providers know this and continually educate and recruit top talent to secure their solutions and keep your data safe.

● Agility – instead of days, new employees can become productive in a manner of minutes. All they need is a computer and a login to the DaaS solution and they have instant access to all corporate software.

DaaS is becoming the de facto solution for many businesses who are looking to increase their flexibility and ability to pivot in these challenging times. Because of this, we believe that this technology will be crucial to ongoing business success.

Mobility – Mobility is not a single technology, but a combination of several disparate technologies that enable employees to work together… from anywhere. Website SearchMobileComputing defines mobility as “an approach to work in which employees can do their jobs from anywhere using a variety of devices and applications.”

Mobility is important because it offers several benefits similar to UCaaS and DaaS, in that it enables employees to work from wherever they are and whenever they can, all while maintaining security surrounding corporate data.

Since the introduction of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 and the quickly following Google Android devices, mobile devices have become an integral part of business communications. Users often installed productivity applications on their devices for work and without IT input, creating security risks for many corporations. IT couldn’t ban the technology and instead had to find a way to accept the mobile devices and incorporate them into their IT security workflow.

The attraction to the technology was because employees realized that they could be more productive through the use of the device and allowed them to be more flexible in how they worked, and where they worked. The happier an employee is, the more likely they are to stay and to go above expectations.

Because of the widespread and rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, this technology earned a spot as the third technology to add to your playbook for 2021.

Automation – According to Wikipedia, Automation, or labor-saving technology is the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal human assistance. Research from WorkMarket, a freelance management solution, and NYU’s Professor Arun Sundararajan, found that “90% of respondents believe there are advantages to automating tasks at their organization, particularly a reduction in manual errors (48%), an increase in the speed at which tasks are completed (42%) and better quality work product (38%).”

In addition to the reduction of errors and an increase in productivity, automation also helps businesses reduce costs, streamline workflows, and save you time. With this, we believe that automation is the 4th technology to keep a lookout for in 2021.

There are many other technologies as well that should be noted, such as digital transformation, AI, broadband and how the rise of Generation Z will have an impact on how people work in the coming decade.