(ZDNet) In 2020, businesses had to be digital or die. Following a disruptive 2020 that ushered in the rapid digitization of businesses, perhaps the biggest question for 2021 is this: What sticks?

Here are some other 2021 technologies that may move to center stage:

Quantum computing.
The industry developed well in 2020 and 2021 will bring more mainstream adoption. What’s missing is the application stack to go with quantum computing, which will be consumed via the cloud. There will also be a new pecking order among vendors as quantum computing takes hold.

3D printing/additive manufacturing. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed significant gaps in the supply chain and the need to be nimble with manufacturing. 3D printing did advance with metal, new materials and a bevy of industry-specific use cases in 2020, but wasn’t able to solve supply chain issues completely. In addition, 3D printing companies took a hit since their customers struggled the most during the pandemic.

The move to multi-cloud accelerates. Enterprises that were cloud-first fared the best during the COVID-19 pandemic and every company is planning on multi-cloud deployments.

Automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Workflows are being automated at a rapid clip. If 2020 highlighted the need for more automation, 2021 will bring real deployments.

Workplace safety software will need reinvention after a year. Companies like ServiceNow and Salesforce essentially created workplace safety as a software category within months. Today, workplace safety tools are managing workers, health, COVID-19 testing and pandemic navigation. However, a COVID-19 vaccine is going to change that equation. Salesforce has already used Work.com to manage vaccine distribution. What does this category of software become this time next year?
While 2021 holds promise for business technology there will be multiple unknowns ahead. Consider:
What does the new normal for work look like and how does collaboration develop?
How do corporations utilize technologies to maintain culture?
Will technology projects be managed differently going forward?
What will be the impact of edge computing, 5G, cloud and automation on industries?