Artificial intelligence and machine learning, 5G and Internet of Things are believed to be the most important technologies for 2021, according to an IEEE survey. The technical professional organization surveyed CIOs and CTOs and found that nearly one-third (32%) believe AI and machine learning to be most important, followed by 5G (20%) and IoT (14%).
CIOs and CTOs have also sped up adopting some technologies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leading the way in this acceleration is cloud computing (52%) followed by 5G adoption (52%) and AI and machine learning (51%). Other technologies being accelerated by businesses in 2020 are IoT, augmented and virtual reality, and video conferencing.
The IEEE 2020 Global Survey of CIOs and CTOs surveyed 350 people in the U.S., China, U.K. and Brazil during September and October. More than half of respondents (52%) see their biggest challenge in 2021 as dealing with aspects of COVID-19 recovery in relation to business operations. These challenges include a permanent hybrid remote and office work structure (22%), office and facilities re-openings and return (17%), and managing permanent remote working (13%).
A further 11% said their biggest challenge in 2021 will be the agility to stop and start IT initiatives as this unpredictable environment continues. An equivalent number cited online security threats, including those related to remote workers, as the biggest challenges they see next year.
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In the survey, manufacturing, healthcare, financial services and education were identified as the industries that most believe will be impacted by technology in 2021. When asked which technologies will have the greatest impact on global COVID-19 recovery, one in four of those surveyed said AI and machine learning.
Compared to a year ago, CIOs and CTOs overwhelmingly (92%) believe their company is better prepared to respond to a potentially catastrophic interruption such as a data breach or natural disaster. And of those who say they are better prepared, 58% strongly agree that COVID-19 accelerated their preparedness.
The two leading concerns for respondents when it comes to cyber security are issues relating to the mobile workforce including employees bringing their devices to work (37%), and ensuring the Internet of Things is secure (35%). One third said they can track and managed 26-50% of devices connected to their business, while 20% of those surveyed said they could track and mange 51-75% of connected devices.