There’s a new decade on the horizon, and just like the ones before it, it will be shaped by innovation that will positively change the everyday experience of customers and employees.
So, let’s turn to 2020 and some of the ways in which technology will become faster and more flexible than ever before—creating genuine impact for people, communities and businesses across the UK.
1. Electric cars
In 2019, environmentalism went mainstream. Schoolchildren around the world went on strike.
Greta Thunberg appeared on the cover of Time magazine and was recently announced as its person of the year. And most shockingly of all, petrolhead-in-chief Jeremy Clarkson publicly accepted climate change while filming The Grand Tour. There’s a clamour for climate solutions from all corners, and we’re seeing businesses taking meaningful action to help create a greener future.
In the UK, there’s been a turn towards electric cars. Advances in battery technology have made them a viable option to bring down CO2 emissions while keeping the country moving. But electric cars can’t be used if there’s nowhere to charge them, and the UK has a shortage of charging points that threatens to hold back their adoption by the general public. Fortunately, that looks set to change.
In 2020, there’ll be efforts to make it easier to find charge points and in turn make electric vehicles a more realistic option for people across the country. And the business world is leading the charge. It’s not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about using existing infrastructure in smarter ways. The Virgin Media Park & Charge project was set up to create charging points from powered street cabinets.
Over the next 18 months, this partnership with Innovate UK aims to roll out 1,200 new charging sockets across the UK—a five% increase on the country’s current network. With 40,000 cabinets available for potential use in the future, it looks like plugging in an electric car is set to get a whole lot easier.
2. Remote working
Since 2008 there has been a 74% rise in remote working in the UK, with more than 1.54 million of us now working away from the office.
Remote workers enjoy flexibility and freedom that allows them more time with their families and doing the things they love. No more time wasted on the daily commute and more streamlined use of working time.
And for businesses, more flexible, more empowered people, mean increased productivity, efficiency and creativity. A recent paper from Harvard Business School found that employees at businesses that facilitated remote working were over four% more productive than employees at those who didn’t.
The impact for a business comes from focusing on its people. With the expansion of ultrafast broadband across the country, working from home is set to boom.
Virgin Media’s ‘Project Lightning’ has already begun expanding gigabit-capable technology to homes across the country. And for the first time in the UK, home broadband offering speeds of more than 1Gbps has became available to hundreds of thousands of homes in and around Southampton, Manchester and Reading.
More will follow shortly and by 2021, 15 million homes across the UK will have received this Gig1 broadband boost. Hyperfast speeds mean that home workers can share large files, complete data-rich projects and clearly communicate without delay or the dreaded buffer wheel. Like that iconic film Field of Dreams taught us, if you build it, they will come.
With the infrastructure in place, expect to see more remote workers than ever before.
3. The rise of the Netflix of networks
While the last twenty years have bought about technological changes beyond our imaginations, one thing hasn’t changed quite so drastically. In 1999, we saw the birth of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MLS). Sure, it’s a mouthful, but it was a big deal to us in the technology world; a network finally capable of meeting the demands of the upcoming 21st century.
It allowed us to connect and build in the internet age. But two decades on, that network is still here and arguably not fit for purpose. The networks of the 2020s need to be rooted in customer experience. Because no matter what the business, customers expect more than ever. They don’t want their online experience of a company to be hampered by time outs and website crashes.
They want to be in and out like the Flash—fast and effortless. Throughout the 2020s, as technology evolves the customer experience, this expectation will grow. It’ll be vital that businesses use a network with the agility, flexibility and resiliency that won’t let down their customers. SD-WAN is one such technology which can transform legacy infrastructure into a more secure and responsive platform.
It can give a business full control of network traffic, allowing near-real-time changes to optimise performance across every aspect of a corporate network. That means employees can benefit from greater productivity and efficiency, no matter how they work. And it means customers can interact with a business when, where and how they expect—not just when a network allows.
That’s why 2020 looks set to be the year of the Netflix of networks. Ushering in a new era of electric vehicles. Working from home more than ever before. All of this needs networks to support growth and change the technology around us.