2021 was another year of ups and downs, full of both concerning issues and exciting advancements. In terms of technology, we are going through some big transformations and seeing things that seemed very futuristic not long ago. Here’s a look at some of the technology highlights of 2021 that stood out to us as we moved through the year with clients and partners.
Hybrid Cloud & Flexible Workspaces
This year was all about flexibility. Continuing and growing from the necessities of 2020, companies realized that the ability to adapt and keep workspaces malleable is actually crucial for employee satisfaction going forward. Once people began the practice of remote work, many of them saw that they liked it and wanted to keep working that way at least to some degree, even when they didn’t have to anymore. And with the infrastructure set up, organizations can now offer hybrid work environments that allow employees to be either in person or remote on a given day.
A hybrid setup has also been common for data storage and workflows. Operating in a cloud environment allows for flexibility, scalability and stronger data protection. Teammates working across remote locations can benefit from continuously updated shared workspaces through cloud apps. For those companies that want to keep on-premise servers too, hybrid solutions have worked out well.
Metaverse & Augmented Reality
The Metaverse is likely to be the biggest technology innovation since the internet. Being introduced to the worldwide web transformed our lives and made our experiences very different than they were before. Now, this new space that brings the digital and physical worlds together can create a reality unlike what we ever experienced in the past. The real world still offers much more than virtual reality, but this augmented reality combination allows for participation in the real world with additional virtual layers. Particularly helpful in remote work scenarios, this has the potential to really expand possibilities.
Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence
As the capabilities of AI and machine learning continue to develop, these technologies can be put to good use in some interesting applications. From helping epileptic patients with ML-assisted music therapy to using AI to help reverse environmental damage, there are all kinds of ways that these capabilities can and should be used to solve big problems we face. Like with any technology, though, blindly adopting them can lead to abuse or unintended outcomes. Our hope is that responsible AI becomes an ongoing trend in itself, and we’re committed to innovating responsibly and ethically along those lines.
Top Microsoft Technology Highlights of 2021
Since we partner with Microsoft, these are the technologies that we work with the most and what we believe are the best security and productivity options available. Here are some of the top offerings from Microsoft in 2021:
- Azure Virtual Desktop. Previously known as Windows Virtual Desktop and rebranded as AVD this year, Azure Virtual Desktop provides much better compatibility across applications than older remote desktop servers, bringing a more modern and convenient experience.
- Windows 365 Cloud PC. New this year, every cloud PC that an organization utilizes is assigned to a specific user with the settings and applications that are relevant to that user. It’s like everyone gets their own virtual PC!
- Azure Arc. This allows you to manage across multiple clouds as well as on-prem. While it isn’t new this year, its power and scalability continue to make it one of Microsoft’s most exciting offerings.
- Microsoft Viva. Viva Learning and Viva Connections are some of the more recent additions to this employee experience platform. Aiding in training, education, and communication, these Viva modules help provide the modern workplace experience that employees are coming to expect and appreciate more than ever.
- Mesh for Microsoft Teams. Mesh is Microsoft’s platform for Metaverse experiences, announced at the Ignite 2021 conference. Still in its beginnings, Mesh really shines in Microsoft Teams, a major hub for virtual meetings and communications.
- Microsoft XDR / Unified Data Loss Prevention. The multiple layers of protection with Extended Detection and Response are a must for today’s hybrid work environments. XDR’s comprehensive coverage provides much stronger cybersecurity than more fragmented options in the past.
Cheers to New Possibilities
There are lots of major challenges we continue to face, but seeing new possibilities emerge is always exciting and a great source of hope. Our team at Infused Innovations wishes you a happy and healthy new year—here’s to always building a better path around the sun than the one that came before it.