During the 2020-21 pandemic, with people being forced to spend the majority of their work and personal lives at home, technology became more important than ever. Online collaboration tools, video conferencing platforms, and online shopping all became a way of life as we leaned on software to keep us going.
Software is the driving force behind much of the technology that is making our lives better in 2021. This is a broad term, though, that comprises a variety of types of applications that are growing in use all the time. Whether you are in an industry that is being improved by software, an investor, or just someone interested in the latest tech trends, the software industry is one to watch in the coming year.
To help guide your observations, we have put together a list of some of the most useful, fastest-growing, and most interesting subcategories within the greater software industry. Each of these categories of software offers something different and will be exciting to watch this year for different reasons. Here are seven software areas to watch in 2021.
1. Video Conferencing Software
Chances are, you’ve become intimately familiar with video conferencing software in the last 12 months. Whether it is because you’ve had to work from home, help your child attend online school, or just had a virtual happy hour with your friends, video conferencing software has become part of our lives thanks to COVID-19.
As many of us return to the office and to normal activities in 2021, video conferencing is not going away. Professional communication, keeping in touch with friends and loved ones, and advancements in areas like telehealth have made video conferencing an indispensable part of our lives now. How the software develops to continue to make these virtual interactions easier and more efficient is worth watching in 2021.
2. Software as a Medical Device (SaMD)
SaMD refers to any software that provides a medical benefit on its own without the need for another medical device. This is the type of software that can turn your smartphone into an alert system for sleep apnea or your smartwatch into an EKG machine. In 2021, this software is disrupting and revolutionizing the medical industry.
Because this software makes healthcare cheaper, more convenient, and more accessible, it’s helping both doctors and patients produce better outcomes. It is the way of the future and it is here now. If you want to watch this industry in 2021, here’s a good breakdown of software as a medical device from Orthogonal.
3. Open-Source Software
Open-source software is any type of software that can be used or even developed collaboratively and is free to the public. The internet browser Mozilla Firefox, eCommerce platform osCommerse, and the LibreOffice office suite are all prime examples of this type of software. Open-source software is growing in 2021 and even big companies are releasing their software for free now in the hopes that users will collaborate to improve it. Keeping an eye on open-source software is a good idea if you want to know what the next big thing in software could be.
4. Security Software
While the pandemic brought on a lot of innovation and adoption of software in 2020, it also made software and systems an even bigger target for hackers. In 2021, cybersecurity software providers are working diligently to bring new products to the market and improve existing products to deal with the latest threats. This applies to everything from large, enterprise-level network security tools to personal antivirus software. As long as cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to attack computers, security software companies will be coming up with new ways to stop them and it is an interesting battle to watch.
5. Fintech Software
Shorthand for financial technology, fintech software covers almost any software solution for the world of finance. This includes software related to banking, loans, personal finance, investing, insurance, and more. This sector has been growing rapidly for the last 20 years and now, it is really hitting a peak.
The pandemic has made people more receptive to adding a digital component to their finances, and fintech software is there for them. Whether it is trading stocks or cryptocurrency on a platform like Robinhood or banking at a digital-only bank like Ally, fintech software is big business these days.
6. CRM Software
Customer relationship management software, better known as CRM, is something that more businesses are using all the time and a type of software that many companies now can’t do without. The most popular CRM software includes Salesforce and HubSpot Sales Hub, but there are plenty of contenders for their thrones in 2021.
The last few years leading up to 2021 have seen more specialized CRM software systems come to fruition. CRM for small and medium-sized businesses and specialized CRM for different industries are popping all the time. We are in the midst of the great CRM war in 2021 and seeing who comes out on tip will be fascinating.
7. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Many of the categories of software either have products or can, as a whole sector, fit into the SaaS category. SaaS refers to software that is accessed through the internet and is used under a subscription fee. As remote work becomes more common (another area the pandemic supercharged), SaaS does too. This type of software allows people and companies to easily access software that they previously wouldn’t have been able to, providing them with a host of benefits. There is no reason to think the growth of SaaS will slow down. On the contrary, we should all watch it to see just how much it grows this year and beyond.
Our changing computer and software needs during this pandemic are altering the business and software landscape. Several sectors within the greater software category bear watching: video conferencing, SaMD, open-source, security, fintech, CRM, and SaaS all fall into this category in 2021.