When you meet a new acquaintance and they ask you what industry you work in, how do you respond?

Sure, mentioning the technology industry is an easy reply, but the true answer is always more nuanced than that. It’s not like the restaurant industry where one can quickly and easily define their type of cuisine, exact location, and whether they’re gourmet or fast-casual. The tech sector is home to thousands of different niches, all with their own focuses, innovations, processes, and outcomes.

No matter how you define your business or IT function, there are a number of 2021 IT industry trends that will impact the way you operate this year, especially when it comes to recruiting. In addition to addressing specific technologies which are set to spike, these trends represent the forces that will change how you hire for years to come.

Recruiting in Key Technologies

One of the most important questions an IT hiring manager can ask themselves is, “What type of talent should I seek out for my recruiting pipeline?” After all, knowing what skills your business needs right now is easy, but knowing what skills you’ll need in the future is what separates the best in technology from the mediocre. That’s because those organizations begin recruiting top individuals early, getting a leg up on the competition.

While this isn’t an all-inclusive list, the following are specific areas where you’ll see a lot of hiring throughout 2021:

Artificial Intelligence

Yes, we’ve been talking about AI for years, but for good reason. The potential of artificial intelligence grows exponentially with each stride in the field. One Salesforce executive has suggested that by the end of 2021 AI will be mainstream. It’s permeating new products and services each day, while trends like edge AI promise unheard-of levels of connectivity and efficiency.

5G & IoT

Most consumers only recognize 5G as a selling point for iPhones, but those in the tech industry realize it’s ushering in the cusp of a new era. 5G technology is set to revolutionize IoT technologies by connecting devices, programs, servers, and clouds like never before. It’s being touted as one of the biggest factors accelerating the shift toward Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

App Development:

These days, it seems like there’s an app for everything. That’s because consumers and businesses are demanding them. And considering that 71% of uninstalls are motivated by app crashes, it’s clear that standards are high. Quality matters in application development. Whether it’s a silly game for distracting kids or an analytics tool to monitor a production line, apps have to be created and updated with care to maintain success in 2021.

Big Data:

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are 40 times more bytes of data in existence than there are stars in the observable universe? For several years, big data and analytics have been inching further into the spotlight as businesses realize the power that uncovering trends can provide. If you find talent versed in this area, it’s wise to hire them as early as possible. As demand rises throughout the year, so will salary expectations.

Social Technologies:

The pandemic drove a surge in digital communications and the technologies that enabled people to feel connected when not together, and that will continue. However, as vaccines become widespread and businesses open up with fewer restrictions, people will desire that in-person, human interaction again. Fast Company believes this will drive innovation in technology that helps people feel safe in public and enhances physical get-togethers, and we agree.

Focusing on Security & Privacy:

2020’s lockdowns and quarantines sparked a surge in internet traffic over personal devices and home connections. While it’s great that many people could keep working from home, this increased traffic opened up a world of vulnerabilities. Businesses have to be extra vigilant in securing their data and all interactions with customers and employees. On top of that, privacy laws are consistently tightening as people become increasingly protective and conscious of their personal information and digital footprint. Fears of data breaches and fines from compliance violations will spur many companies to double down on security and privacy in 2021.

Feeling the Impact of Climate Change

Matt Trotter of Silicon Valley Bank believes that the impact of climate change on the tech industry will reach a crescendo this year. He makes the case that the huge push toward electric cars will have vast impacts on the technology sector as a whole. Given how many IT pros will be needed to achieve new emission standards and the lofty electric car production goals set by companies like General Motors, this makes sense. After all, great IT minds will need to reinvent most parts of the automobile, and that takes away talent from other niches.

Hiring Tech Pros with Business Skills

The IT department of any company has continued to gain importance, placing IT pros in rooms with executives and other business leaders. Today, soft skills are critical for technology talent. The ability to translate a technical concept to a non-IT person is essential not just for informing company leadership, but for communicating with other departments that may need to act on IT-based insights. While deep experience in hard skills will always be welcome, the tech pros who will make the biggest impact on your company are those well-rounded individuals with great business skills.

Addressing Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

As a minority business, we couldn’t write about 2021 IT industry trends without addressing diversity and inclusion. While these are topics that have been talked about for a long time, there was something different about the conversation in 2020. This coming year, companies will be taking a hard look at how they can improve here. After all, the tech industry has been historically unbalanced. In 1991, 36% of computing occupations were held by women, but that has steadily declined to 26% today. 2021 will be remembered as the year the tide turns for the better, not just for women, but for all groups who have been marginalized.

2021 IT Industry Trends

Like looking at a really long menu at a new restaurant, it can be overwhelming to consider dozens upon dozens of trends set to shape this year’s technology market. Of course, there are more movements than just the ones listed above. But select those that matter most to your business, address them with the attention and resources they require, and reap the rewards of being one step ahead of your competition each month of the year.

Want to dig into more IT industry stats and trends? Download your free Silicon Valley IT Salary Guide here.


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