News roundup 2020: the biggest tech stories of the year

It's safe to say 2020 has been a year to forget! We look back at some of the biggest tech stories that everyone was talking about throughout the year, across all areas of the sphere.

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The virus that shall not be named

When you approach the average person on the street and ask them about what truly made 2020 a standout year, it's safe to say that only a minute percentage of those people would have anything overtly positive to say. 2020 was indeed a standout year, but definitely not in the kind of ways we were hoping it would be. While many of us had grand, in some cases life-affirming goals or transformative expectations for the start of the decade, in many, many cases, 2020 had other plans.

For the tech industry — frankly all industries — this year has spurred a series of rapid, foundational changes to the way we go about our business, with many of these having permanent ramifications for the enterprise IT day-to-day. As the pandemic tore through the majority of nations globally, forcing many of us out of our office environments and into our homes, CIOs and IT managers have had their work cut out for them as they have attempted to cater for this mass exodus. The tech companies were some of the most prolific here, with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple all announcing comprehensive working from home policies.

That's not to mention the range of other pertinent issues and shifting priorities that have become apparent, such as necessities around upskilling employees, pausing digital transformation projects, and even — across some industries — fighting for survival through digital innovation. Indeed, many companies were forced to announce layoffs, with firms like Airbnb terminating the employment of 25% of its workforce, while Uber let 14% go.

Looking specifically at the big IT-related news headlines, this year has been utterly characterised by COVID-19 and everything related to it. One of the big news stories this year has been around global efforts to perform digital contact tracing, with a wide range of nations around the world all giving this a go, with varying degrees of success. A lot of this hinged on whether those countries were using jointly-developed tracing technology from Apple and Google for their respective mobile operating systems.

While this tech was relatively privacy friendly as it focused on a decentralised (no centralised processing of personal information), Bluetooth powered methodology, it didn't fit the mantra of many countries, who wished to give their health authorities access to PII, in order to make tracing more effective. We were then stuck between a (privacy) rock, and an (effective tracing) hard place, with no real way to linger in the middle.

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