The only industry in the world that is evolving at the speed of light is technology. Let me give you an example of that in terms of innovation: If the automotive industry had the same speed as the technology industry, cars would be flying by now. They would use solar, hydrogen or some other energy source that would not pollute and on top of that, the car would have a highly accessible cost. That's why technology innovation each year surpasses the previous one and new models of computers, smart phones, home robots, 3D printers and all sorts of digital devices – like headsets, watches, bracelets, clothing – keep coming out.
2021 comes with a new telecommunications standard called 5G, which is 100 times faster than the current standard, which is 4G. Although 5G will effectively make cell phones much faster, that’s not its main purpose. It’s designed to connect cars, refrigerators, televisions, assembly lines, clothing, security cameras and many other devices to the internet. Its goal is to send information as fast as lightning. Unfortunately, it will not be available in all of Mexico but only in certain places of high population density and at specific sites, such as malls, factories and student campuses. This is due to the fact that the 5G communications protocol uses very small antennas instead of the tall cellular and communication towers we know of today.
Another new technology that most will have at their disposal is called hyper personalization and it goes hand in hand with the use of social networks and apps. This means that the user will receive friend suggestions, advertising, news and multimedia material like photos, videos and podcasts according to what they really like or aspire to. At first, for many, it might even be perceived as magic. But this comes at a price, users will be wrapped in a digital bubble where their opinions and way of thinking will never, or almost never, be challenged. It will lack a counterbalance or opposite idea. Companies will know exactly how to persuade you to have a favorable opinion and influence your decisions. Again, it will have advantages because it will be convenient, since it’s highly personalized. Companies will know and suggest your exact size, colors and shapes according to what you like. But the danger prevails, as it will also reinforce biases and opinions in many ways without opening a path to other ways of thinking and being.
2021 will be a year of citizen awakening on privacy and security issues as a consequence of a lot of hackings of micro and small businesses, as well as theft of SIM devices through SMS or WhatsApp messages. This will cause people to gain awareness and make them realize that for hackers, all people and companies are a target of attack. Thus, a lot of email and device users will begin to take a different stance on their personal data, the applications they use and the information they share.
This year, artificial intelligence will slide into the home and businesses of many. Siri, Apple’s AI, Alexa from Amazon and Google Assistant on Android have always been smarter in English than in Spanish, for various reasons. However, in 2021, they will be truly smarter in their Spanish version in Mexico. Commands and orders will be better interpreted and executed, and they will have more extensive databases. Many companies will start implementing RPA – Robotic Process Automation – which are intelligent systems capable of performing repetitive administrative, financial and accounting tasks. The cost of RPA programs has been decreasing due to economic pressure. This will force multiple companies to get rid of financing, accounting and administrative personnel. Tasks such as checks and policy generation, balances, invoicing and many others will be automatized. This phenomenon – that until not long ago affected only laborers who were displaced by intelligent robots – will now extend to administrative and office work. This technology already exists and it's here; mass adoption started detonating earlier this year.
The consolidation of Netflix, Disney, HBO Max and Amazon Prime-type content payment services will be the replacement for big movie releases given the situation with cinemas, and because a large volume of the population won't be vaccinated until 2022. The film industry will rely on the services mentioned for its premieres and projections worldwide as a strategy, first of survival, but later of expansion.
Another important change is that Huawei will emerge with its own store as a new contender in a market where there was room only for two players: Android with Google Play Store, and Apple with the App Store. The issues that arose between Google and China, sparked by former President Donald Trump, forced Huawei to develop Harmony, which is its own operating system. It’s worth noting that previously, Huawei was the biggest seller of devices with Android operating systems. Ever since Microsoft’s failed attempt to buy Nokia and having Windows Mobile as an alternative, which by the way didn’t work, there hadn’t been a competitor of such importance able to come into the market. Thus, in 2021, we will be able to see phones with high performance at low prices from the Chinese seeking to grow their installed base worldwide. Of course, success is not granted and only time will tell if Huawei’s strategy of launching its own operating system and digital store was the right bet.
We will also see relevant changes with 3D printing, which is the generation of plastic artifacts made literally from a printer connected to a computer with design software. Also, thanks to their integrated security, sensors and devices connected to the internet will be detonated, known as the internet of things. Appliances, workplaces and many other areas will begin to change due to their integration with apps and connectivity to the cloud, virtual reality and extended reality sites will help in education and industry as alternatives to confinement.
As we slowly go back to normal, we will realize that our interaction habits, such as meetings and hangouts via video conferencing, buying things through an application and using apps for fitness programs, among other things that came with confinement, are here to stay.
The use of alternative energy, such as solar and wind, has started to gain popularity. But, unfortunately, not in Mexico due to the wrong strategy. However, many other countries will start making use of this energy.
In an election year, fake news will abound and it is highly likely that foreign hackers may want to influence the election decision of millions, a chapter similar to what happened with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But that, dear reader, you’ll have to do your own research on.
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