What does the tech industry look like in 2020?
The tech industry in the UK is thriving. According to former Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore, the tech sector is growing 50% faster than the rest of the UK economy and contributes over 7% of UK GVA (gross value added). The Tech Nation Report for 2019 shows that not only is the tech sector doing well among other industries in the UK, it’s doing well among comparable tech sectors globally.
The UK leads Europe and is fourth in the world when it comes to scale-up tech investment, and when it comes to scale-up investment into fintech firms, the UK is number one in the world – £4.5 billion in funding was generated between 2015 and 2018. More locally, there are some 19,000 tech businesses in the East of England, employing 89,000 people with a turnover of £8.3 billion.
So what does that suggest for 2020? Here’s what we think you should expect to see.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has the potential to crop up in many aspects of business, and you can expect it to be embraced in surprising new ways. Expect it to take on an increasingly large role in data management and online customer support functions, but it might also play a part in project management and human resources.
5G represents a huge leap forward for cellular technology – it’s fast, reliable, and capable of handling high levels of traffic. The EU aims to provide continuous 5G coverage for railways and major roads by 2025, which will give the capacity to support one hundred times more connected devices per area.
Bots like Amazon’s Alexa indicate that people like being able to simply ask for information and services, rather than having to type or click. However, while what we currently have is impressive it can also be frustrating if you can’t get the bot to understand your accent or meaning. Over the next year or so, things will develop to the stage where bots might be able to more convincingly “chat”, and deal with conversation in a more human way.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things allows devices – such as connected sensors, smartphones and wearable tech – to talk to each other. Industrial applications have the potential to save time and money, and cut down on accidents and waste. With further IoT development the world will become more connected, efficient and safer.
Blockchain tech was developed to support Bitcoin. In effect, it’s a permanent date- and time-stamped record transactions. Blockchain and similar technologies rooted in cryptocurrency technology are likely to become much more widely implemented. The potential offered by Blockchain is immense, as it has the capacity to change the way many industries operate – and even to make some redundant.
Many of us are already familiar with using voice commands to interact with devices, applications are still somewhat limited. However, we can expect voice commands to become not only more prevalent but also more intuitive, as AI and machine learning programs develop and improve. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) could be leveraged to help machines better understand voice, as it has the potential to facilitate understanding of tone, as well as the meaning of spoken words.
In a separate article we took a look at the skills that will be needed from employees based on the trends predicted for 2020. As the article indicated, it’s not just hard tech skills, such as robotics and programming, that will be needed, but also soft skills, such as communication and negotiation. Perhaps the skill that will really help people thrive and contribute will be their ability to adopt a habit of lifelong learning, allowing them to stay on top of continued rapid change.
Considering the growth we have seen throughout the industry so far, it’s fair to say that the things we have mentioned won’t be the only trends to watch out for in 2020 – things are moving rapidly and new technologies are emerging all the time. We can expect the swift pace of innovation and development to be maintained over the coming year, and for levels of growth to be maintained, too. That’s great news not only for the country, but also very much for Suffolk and Norfolk. With three of the UK’s top five fastest-growing city economies in the region – Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich – we can expect to be at the forefront of forthcoming developments in IT jobs and technology.