As we wave goodbye to 2020, I’m sure we speak for a large portion of the UK population when we say “good riddance!”. The year a global pandemic hit was full of unwelcome surprises that heavily impacted our daily lives and pretty much every area of our economy. Now in our third national lockdown 2021 remains steeped in uncertainty, though the roll out of vaccinations is driving genuine optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Covid-19 also sped up a number of exciting digital transformations across the globe as we were all forced into staying connected using technology. Virtually overnight businesses were ordered to shut their doors and figure out a way of staying afloat for an indefinite period of time. The silver lining of any crisis is that there is no better opportunity to drive change and it’s fair to say that 2020 sparked the biggest change to the world of work as we know it.
Covid-19 acted as a catalyst for innovation as we were forced to adapt to our current situation, quickly learning how to do things more efficiently and safely. Consumers have moved to online channels with companies and industries following closely behind. Modern technology was already evolving rapidly but now the rate of change has been accelerated. The adoption of digital and emerging technologies in engineering is a topic on everyone’s lips and is a good reason to be optimistic for the future. Many of these adaptations will likely stick around in 2021 and we’ll also see the emergence of new tech trends as we continue to accelerate the pace of advancements in analytics and automation.
Below we’ve highlighted a couple of tech trends to look out for this year that we believe will heavily influence the engineering landscape in 2021:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning
AI is one of the biggest tech trends currently, resulting in a major shift in the global economy and seen as a key driver of revolutionising our industry. The outbreak of the pandemic has propelled us into this future world of work as AI has proven itself indispensable and a valuable tool in helping us to interpret the world around us. Suddenly we’ve been forced into collecting huge volumes of data on healthcare, infection rates and whether or not our preventative measures across the nation have slowed the rate at which the disease is transmitted. This has resulted in better informed machine learning algorithms as they have become increasingly sophisticated, spotting results and insights that would go unnoticed by human analysis.
AI will be a game changer in the engineering and manufacturing industries as it will enable us to collect bigger and more complex amounts of information that can be processed across operations and the supply chain. AI will help us identify inefficiencies as well as predict potential issues or challenges before they’ve even emerged, streamlining the whole process. We’ll see a reduction in product defects as quality control will be automated which in turn, will drastically reduce costs.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA is the use of software to automate repetitive, manual tasks and is designed to be used across multiple applications and systems within an existing workflow. RPA allows companies to increase productivity as staff can focus on more critical tasks and similar to AI, its values lie in accuracy and cost-saving. RPA has grown to automate all kinds of business processes such as processing transactions, organising data and even replying to emails. Fancy that, a bot designed to answer the never-ending stream of emails that filter into your inbox daily – we can dream! AI is a pretty big tech trend currently as it has enabled businesses to stay connected across teams and systems and we’re excited for what the future holds.
For those of us that have navigated the engineering industry for some time, we know how important it is to stay on top of emerging technology trends as they shape the way our industry evolves. Particularly now more than ever, it is crucial to stay ahead of the curve as we enter into the new year not knowing what’s around the corner!
At Wagstaff, we are looking forward to what the engineering industry may throw at us next as emerging technology continues to impact our world of work. We do not believe that processes like automation will result in a reduction of humans involved in the engineering landscape but rather create new opportunities within the jobs market.
So watch this space!