This year was as unpredictable as they come. Still, it didn't stop tech analysts from forecasting the industry's next big thing. How close were their predictions? That depends on the trend.

Some, like digital security demands, were spot on. Others that sounded more far-fetched remained just out of reach. (Sorry robots and augmented reality glasses – maybe next year.)

Looking to incorporate the latest and greatest into your SMB? Review this list to see which predictions came to fruition, and which you'll have to wait for.


Did: Businesses will shift from brick and mortar

As an airborne virus with no vaccine swept the globe, operations of all sizes and industries moved online to curb the spread of infection and save their businesses.

According to Shopify, by the year 2021, worldwide retail e-commerce sales will reach an estimated $6.9 trillion NZD. Expect to see that number only increase – and likely at a rapid pace – as time goes on.


Didn't: Blockchain

A CB Insights report revealed investment into blockchain technology has declined 60 percent this past year. However, with $2.2 billion NZD still being sunk into blockchain startups, it's probably not entirely down for the count yet, even if Meltem Demirors, chief investment officer of CoinShares Group, has gone on record as saying “Blockchain is dead”.


Did: 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality by 2020

AR-enabled mobile apps make it possible to project would-be purchases into a customer's current life. From Amazon's AR shopping experience to Home Depot's home improvement app, shoppers can virtually try everything from makeup and clothing to paint colours and furniture pieces before they buy.


Didn't: AR glasses will change how we interact with the world

Even if customers are shopping in augmented reality, they still aren't looking through AR-tinted glasses full-time. In fact, two of the most popular pairs of augmented reality glasses actually made Business Insider's list of "Worst Tech of the Decade."


Did: Mobile apps will have the most business impact on success by 2020

Global smartphone ownership is at a record 5 billion – and it's growing by the day. More and more businesses are using mobile apps to engage with their employees and customers, especially the younger generations, which account for a significant portion of potential buyers.


Didn't: Foldable devices will reshape portability

Remember that foldable phone you kept hearing about? For now, it's a flop. The high price, limited options, and lack of durability are just a few of the reasons the technology needs a few years to catch up.


Did: Citizens will demand data security

As more of our day-to-day shifts online, data security will continue to be a top priority for employees working remotely and customers making e-commerce purchases. In response, global cybersecurity spending is expected to exceed £1 trillion by 2021.


Didn't: AI and EI will converge

For now, emotional intelligence (EI) is still only a characteristic of those with neural pathways. According to SYFYwire, “Facial affect recognition AI, which is supposed to recognise emotions through facial expressions, scored as low as 48% and couldn't go higher than 62%. Those results were even worse when it came to spontaneous emotion. So AI isn't just terrible at telling how we feel – it is also really inconsistent.”


Did: RPA adoption

Robotic process automation (RPA) is making redundancy, well, redundant. By automating processes and repetitive tasks, organisations are using bots to reinforce departments like customer service, while they focus on upskilling their staff.


Didn't: The robot revolution

While robots may one day completely alter (and hopefully enhance) the way we work, we're not there yet. As one MIT article entitled “Where are all the Robots” illustrates, “Labor productivity growth, a measure highly correlated with automation, has significantly slowed in recent years. Between 2010 and 2019, it grew less than 1% annually…”

What's more, demand for blue collar workers is currently on the rise, though these jobs could still be at risk for automation in the future. A study from PwC suggests the impending augmentation and autonomy waves could impact 20-30% of jobs by the mid-2030s.

Disappointed to see your favourite futuristic find didn't quite make the cut? Truth is, good tech takes time to develop. Just because it's not on this year's list of accurately predicted tech, doesn't mean you won't be using it to get ahead of the curve next year.