Get 4 new trends every week
Delivered to your inbox each Tuesday
See trends before they become trends
Trusted by 65,000 people
Insights, expert analysis, and more
Loved by over 65,000 people at companies like:

2021’s Most Important IT Trends

The global information technology (IT) market is estimated to be worth $5 trillion.

It’s fair to say that information technology is more important to the global business community than ever. But it is also changing faster than ever.

To learn more about those innovative changes, read our list of trends below.

1. New IT Initiatives Change How Data is Processed and Stored

Edge computing is a form of distributed computing where computation and data storage takes place closer to the end-user.

edge-computing-min.png
Searches for "Edge Computing" have increased by 985% over the past five years.

As more data is processed and stored each day, it is becoming difficult to process data that is located in far-off data centers.

Edge computing looks to solve this by using smart objects and network gateways to process and store data near the end user’s location.

The rise of remote work, as well as the growth of IoT and smart devices, has driven this market forward. IDC predicts that the workforce impacts of COVID-19 will be responsible for 80% of edge computing investment over the next few years.

The edge computing market is expected to reach $250.6 billion by 2024.

In fact, IDC expects that more than 90% of new organizational operating procedures will be deployed on an edge computing network in 2024. That’s compared to less than 20% today.

In addition, edge computing has the potential to capture much more useful data than the current infrastructure.

It’s estimated that there will be 85 zettabytes of useful data created in 2021. But only a small percentage of that data will be captured by data centers.

edge-data-centers-min.png
Only a fraction of useable data is captured by data centers.

Edge computing can help close this gap. As 5G and the IoT proliferate, devices close to the data source can capture and process a larger portion of the new data that is created.

In addition, local edge data centers are being built to help with the increasing glut of data.

There are currently 2.5 million edge servers deployed. Omdia expects this number to increase to 3 million in 2021. And by 2024, roughly 26% of all servers shipped (5.5 million) are expected to be used for edge computing.

PwC also predicts that by 2024 the global market for edge data centers will have tripled to $13.5 billion.

The edge computing movement is directly related to the rise of distributed cloud infrastructure.

distributed-cloud-min.png
Search interest in "Distributed Cloud".

Distributed cloud computing takes the geographical location of data centers into account. A customer’s data is stored, processed, and transferred from different locations to increase the efficiency of the network.

In the past, the geographical location was not relevant. But as discussed above, increasing data and network traffic make it more difficult to move large quantities of data to the public cloud.

And considering companies are literally paying Amazon to haul their data centers by truck, it looks like the distributed cloud could solve some serious problems.

Gartner predicts that by 2024 most cloud service providers will offer some form of distributed cloud services.

2. Rising Cyberattacks Highlight the Importance of Cybersecurity

Data breaches in the U.S. have been steadily rising over the last 15 years.

statista-data-breaches-min.png
Number of Data Breaches and Records Exposed Annually in the U.S.

In its 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon found that 3,950 data breaches occurred around the globe in 2020. That’s 96% more data breaches than were found in the 2019 report.

In fact, it’s estimated that cybercrime is costing the global economy $16.4 billion a day.

global-cybercrime-damage-min.png
Global Cybercrime in 2021

And as the 2020 SolarWinds hack shows, the IT industry is highly susceptible to cyberattacks.

To combat this, spending on cybersecurity services is expected to increase by 10% to over $60 billion in 2021.

cybersecurity-min.png
Search interest in “Cybersecurity”.

A PwC study also found that over half of corporate executives expect to expand their cybersecurity budgets and increase their cybersecurity staff in 2021.

According to Gartner, the total cybersecurity market (including services, software, hardware, etc.) is worth $123 billion.

gartner-forecasts-worldwide-security-...
Source: Gartner

As you can see from the chart above, roughly 85% of total spending goes towards four segments: Security Services, Infrastructure Protection, Network Security Equipment, and Identity Access Management.

The fastest growing markets, however, are Data Security and Cloud Security. This makes sense, considering 92% of enterprises are now using some form of cloud technology.

And as data storage changes, so must data and network protection.

Cybersecurity mesh is one of the most innovative new ways that companies are protecting their networks and data.

cybersecurity-mesh-min.png
Search interest in “Cybersecurity Mesh” has increased by 99x over the last two years.

The cybersecurity mesh concept essentially seeks to develop security protocols that can prevent exposure at every single entry point of a network.

If there is some kind of breach, the cybersecurity mesh system should be able to prevent the bad actor from gaining access to other parts of the network.

This is compared to the traditional perimeter-based approach, where security systems seek to protect the entire “walled-city” of devices and users. If one entry-point is compromised at a certain level of the network in this system, the entire network could be compromised.

This is especially important as corporate teams become more decentralized. Companies can’t control how employees and others access their network, so it’s important to focus security around each access point or potential user.

Gartner predicts that in five years, over 50% of all digital access control requests will be supported by cybersecurity mesh.

Cybersecurity mesh is part of a larger cybersecurity movement, known as “zero-trust security.”

zero-trust-min.png
Searches for “Zero Trust” have jumped by 900% since 2016.

Zero-trust security systems like cybersecurity mesh are witnessing rapid adoption. Over half of all cybersecurity decision makers are expected to have implemented some kind of zero-trust security system in 2020.

3. The “Everything as a Service” Model Shifts IT Spending to the Cloud

Much of the IT market is now directly tied to the cloud.

As a result, remote “as a service” models are proliferating. The Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) markets are growing at a significant rate.

Today, many companies have their entire IT infrastructure on the public cloud. In fact, 59% of tech executives said that they expect most or all of their IT environment to be in the cloud next year.

And ICD predicts that, in 2021, 80% of enterprises will switch to a cloud-based IT infrastructure twice as fast as they did before COVID-19.

According to Statista, the public cloud services market was worth $257.5 billion at the end of 2020. And it is expected to be worth $362-$364 billion by 2022.

gartner-public-cloud-revenue-min.png
Source: Gartner

The largest segment of the cloud services market is the traditional SaaS market, at just over $100 billion in 2020.

saas-min.png
Search interest for "SaaS" over the last decade.

Software as a Service allows companies to take advantage of software that is developed and maintained in another location. The customers simply pay a subscription. There’s no need for on-premises installation or updates.

The largest pure-play SaaS provider is Salesforce.

largest-saas-companies-min.png
Source: BMC

But the competition is growing extremely fast. Twilio’s revenue grew by 55% year-over-year in 2020. And Shopify’s grew by 86%.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the second largest segment, at $51.4 billion in 2020. The IaaS market is expected to grow by 26.9% in 2021. And it is predicted to be worth roughly $80 billion by 2022.

iaas-min.png
Search interest for "Infrastructure as a Service".

The advent of the IaaS market has seriously changed how IT infrastructure is handled. In the second quarter of 2020, spending on public cloud IT infrastructure surpassed on-premises IT infrastructure spending for the first time.

Gartner also shows that IT spending on traditional data center systems shrank by 10% in 2020.

The largest IaaS vendors are the three largest public cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Edge.

As of 2019, AWS controlled roughly 45% of the total IaaS market. The next largest competitor, Microsoft Azure, captured about 17.9%.

The Platform as a Service (PaaS) market accounts for just over 15% of the overall cloud services market.

PaaS consists of cloud computing services that allow customers to develop, launch, and run an app on a cloud-based platform, instead of developing it using in-house tools.

paas-min.png
Search interest in "Platform as a Service".

The PaaS market is estimated to be worth $43.8 billion as of 2020. And it has grown by around 48% since 2018.

And the growth isn’t expected to stop anytime soon. Statista predicts that the PaaS market will be worth almost $60 billion by 2022.

In the PaaS market, the three largest cloud providers and IBM control over 50% of the PaaS market share.

In addition to the three “as a service” categories listed above, IT services are also being productized.

IT as a Service (ITaas) allows enterprise IT service providers to deliver traditional IT services through a subscription-based model.

itaas-min.png
Searches for "ITaaS" have grown by 740% in the last two years.

ITaaS doesn’t necessarily have to be a cloud offering. Many times, on-premises work is still necessary.

The ITaaS instead allows enterprises to completely outsource and reliably estimate IT spend without needing to do things like invest in a native data center.

4. The Internet of Behaviors Seeks to Take Advantage of New Data

We’re all familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT). But there’s a new IT trend that you may not have heard of.

It’s called the Internet of Behaviors (IoB).

internet-of-behaviors-min.png
Searches for "Internet of Behaviors" have grown by 614% in 5 years.

The IoB interprets the data collected by the IoT. It then uses this data to influence customer (or employee) behavior.

And the IoB is quickly gaining traction.

Gartner predicts that by 2023, 40% of people worldwide will be influenced by the IoB. That’s equivalent to roughly 3 billion people.

The growth of the IoT market (estimated $1.4 trillion by 2027) along with the adoption of edge computing will allow for more data collection and storage than ever before. This will only increase the influence of the IoB over people’s lives.

And while there may be benefits, many people are also focused on the risks.

A survey by the Internet Society found that 63% of people think it’s “creepy” that IoT devices are constantly collecting data on them.

In addition, the Economist Intelligence Unit polled 1,600 consumers to find that 92% of them want control over their own data.

So, as the IoB continues to grow, expect increasing social and regulatory pushback.

5. The Role of The CIO Expands

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are typically the leaders of IT departments.

Because they oversee information technology, rapid change is something they are used to dealing with.

And as things like ITaaS gain acceptance, new data indicate that the role of the CIO is changing faster than ever.

CIO’s 2021 State of the CIO report found that 82% of CIOs said they had implemented some new form of technology or methodology because of the pandemic.

In addition, 96% of CIOs feel that their job is expanding beyond the traditional IT boundaries.

cio-roles-min.png
The Many New Roles a CIO must Play.

As you can see, more than half of CIOs say their job now includes cybersecurity obligations. This has even led some organizations to create a new position - the Chief Information Security Officer.

cios-min.png
Searches for "Chief Information Security Officer" have increased by 20% since 2016.

Every corporation in the Fortune 500 now has a CISO.

IT’s increasing importance is also driving the need for more IT personnel.

In December, when the total U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs, the IT market grew by 391,000. IT service companies also added a net of 22,000 jobs in December.

6. Privacy-Enhancing Computation Looks to Secure Customer Data

As discussed in the section on data breaches, internet privacy is a big concern for consumers. In fact, 82% of consumers avoid revealing their personal information online for fear of interference by third parties.

data-privacy-min.png
Searches for "Data Privacy" had grown by 224% over the last decade.

IT departments are addressing this by deploying privacy-enhancing technologies. These technologies basically allow businesses to collect data while, at the same time, put consumer privacy protections in place.

This is different from typical data protection methods. Privacy-enhancing computation is software that actively protects data while it is being used – even by third parties.

And the need for this technology will only increase as consumer privacy regulation grows.

Gartner predicts that over the next three years, 65% of the world’s population will be covered by some kind of consumer privacy regulations like the GDPR and CCPA. That’s compared to about a fifth of the population today.

To combat the problems associated with this, it’s estimated that 50% of all enterprises will implement some kind of privacy-enhancing computation to process data over the next few years.

Conclusion

That’s all for the top IT trends of 2021.

As digital innovation changes everything about the economy, IT departments and initiatives are becoming more important than ever.

Last Updated: 
March 12, 2021
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.

Get Weekly Trending Topics

Our best Exploding Topics, plus expert analysis.

548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
privacyterms
© 2021  Exploding Topics