Almost any topic related to software has long been trending in the tech world. It has driven some of the most important innovations of the 21st century. We may one day look back at 2020 as the year software went completely mainstream, though. With the global pandemic forcing lockdowns resulting in more people than ever working from home, it was almost impossible to not have software affect your daily life in 2020.
As we move into 2021, the software will continue to be a major force in the technological advancements that will be key to moving us forward in the coming decade. The fallout from the pandemic as well as the normal technological innovations that come with a new year will make 2021 a huge year for software. Here are four software trends to watch in 2021.
1. The Rise of Software as a Medical Device
There is no more important industry in 2021 than the healthcare industry. It is the industry that helped us get through the pandemic and the one that will help take care of the millions of Baby Boomers who will all be 65 and over by the end of the decade. As a consequence, making healthcare more effective and efficient in the coming years will be a top priority.
Software is helping to move healthcare forward in 2021 by offering Software as a Medical Device (SaMD). SaMD refers to software that works independently of any other medical device while offering the functionality of a medical device itself. This software is run on non-medical device platforms such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, wearable devices, and others.
SaMD offers the healthcare industry many benefits for both patients and providers. On the provider side, SaMD makes healthcare more portable, less expensive and offers faster feedback loops to help provide better outcomes for patients.
On the patient side, SaMD helps put healthcare devices that were once only available in hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the palm of the patient’s hand. It gives patients more control and ownership over their own conditions and treatments and makes the whole process more convenient. For a thorough look at software as a medical device, Orthogonal has a comprehensive guide to SaMD.
2. Video Conferencing Software is Here to Stay
Talking on a video phone was once a technology that only appeared in futuristic stories. In 2020, video conferencing became completely mainstream. Sheltering in place and working from home became the norm in 2020 and, even as we hopefully reach the end of the pandemic in 2021, video conferencing software is something that will not recede as life gets back to normal.
Working from home will subside somewhat in 2021 but as companies and employees recognize the benefits of this situation, working from home will more often be a normal business practice. This makes video conferencing software more than just a trend; it is fast becoming an integral part of doing business.
In 2021, we should see more video conferencing software providers as the competition in the space heats up. Look for more platforms to challenge the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting. This competition will drive innovation and every software provider in the space will look to add more features, make the software more user-friendly, and add more security features.
3. More Cloud-based Software
The cloud, an internet-based decentralized system of servers has been providing software to people and businesses for years now. The boom in working from home, coupled with many companies moving away from large traditional offices is making cloud-based software a big trend to watch in 2020.
The other reason cloud-based software will continue to be on the rise in 2021 is a greater demand for software capable of executing very complex processes and computing. The basis of this demand comes from the importance of such factors as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the world today.
From a financial and practical perspective, it doesn’t make sense for many people or companies to invest in proprietary software that can perform these functions. Using cloud-based software to implement new technologies is the way of the future and that future is here in 2021.
4. A Larger Focus on Desktop and Laptop Software
Developing software for desktops and laptops is nothing new in 2021. Even so, a trend to watch is how software developers focus more of their energy on these platforms in the coming year. For the last decade or so, much software development was primarily focused on mobile and wearable platforms. Desktop and laptop development became a secondary consideration in many cases.
The global pandemic of 2020 changed much of that. The idea behind developing software for mobile and wearable devices pre-2020 was that people were out and about and needed access to top-notch software programs wherever they went. In 2020, people were at home. Between social gathering restrictions and the explosion of working from home caused by COVID-19, people are spending far more time on their desktops and laptops.
While 2021 will hopefully be the year the fog of COVID is lifted, this new relationship to more static tech platforms should remain in many cases. Developers will still develop plenty of mobile and wearable-based software but laptops and desktop software development should come back in vogue as well.
No one ever knows exactly what the new year will bring (see 2020) but we do know that whatever happens, the software will play a vital role in the technological innovations that appear. Based on what we saw last year and what we can relatively safely predict going forward, Software as a Medical device, video conferencing software, cloud-based software, and a bigger focus of software for desktops and laptops are trends that are definitely worth keeping an eye on in 2021 and beyond. The coolest thing about software, though, is that the possibilities are endless and there are sure to be more trends to add to this list when we start thinking about 2022.