As the year comes to a close, here is a look at 7 key business and technology trends predicted for 2021.
For most businesses, 2020 has been a turbulent year, full of extreme disruption. Faced with the pandemic, businesses were forced to adapt to a new way of operating, seemingly overnight. Workplaces and shopping habits changed dramatically. And digital transformation became something no company could avoid any longer if they wanted to stay in business.
Going forward, the lessons learned in adaptability and resilience will continue to serve companies as they navigate the ongoing changes in the new year. In this blog post, we have rounded up top trends and predictions for 2021 from Gartner, Forrester, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 that every small and mid-sized business owner should know about.
Key Business Trends for 2021
1. Digital-first operating model
For businesses to emerge successfully in 2021 from the pandemic, they will need to adapt to an operating model that allows their business to be accessed, delivered, and enabled from anywhere – even if customers and employees are in remote locations. The main idea is to focus on digital and remote experiences, and the digital will be the default at all times. Businesses with physical locations will likely need to enhance their location digitally to deliver seamless and safe service. (For instance, ensuring your business can offer contactless check out at your physical storefront.)
2. Acceleration of cloud migration
Cloud computing became essential during the global pandemic. Without cloud apps, systems, and services, it would have been impossible to transition to remote work, maintain supply chains, or shift industry business models within weeks. The acceleration to adopt cloud technology had already been proceeding since the start of the pandemic, and cloud migration is expected to spike in the upcoming year. It is predicted that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow by 35% to $120 billion in 2021.
3. Focus on customer loyalty
Customer retention and loyalty have always been an important aspect for businesses. In 2021, spending on loyalty and retention marketing is expected to increase by 30% to drive customer obsession with their business. There will be a push to ensure that the customer experience with a company is continuous from acquisition to post-purchase and a focus on acquiring customers who are likely to be long-term purchasers. There is likely to be a significant emphasis on loyalty programs, and media money is expected to shift into retention strategies such as email and customer service.
4. Remote & hybrid work models
Remote work will rise to 300% of pre-COVID levels. Around 47% of North American managers surveyed during the pandemic anticipate a permanently higher rate of full-time remote employees. Most companies are expected to employ a hybrid work model, with a mix of people in the office and full-time remote employees. As a majority of the workforce develops the skills for remote work, they will come to expect a work-from-anywhere strategy from their company instead of an exception-driven remote work policy. This means hiring, and onboarding practices are likely changed forever, and HR teams will see more coordination with IT as they remodel onboarding and talent acquisition models.
5. Uptick in insider data breaches
As employees continue to work from home in 2021, it is estimated that 33% of data breaches will be caused by insider incidents, up from 25% today. Factors that lead to this increase include the rapid push of users to remote work without shoring up security controls, the increased ease of moving stolen company data, and employee job insecurity. To focus on insider threat defense, companies will need to improve the employee experience (not treating employees like machines) to avoid turning employees into malicious insiders. Considerations such as employee privacy, company culture, and following local standards for acceptable and fair labour practices will be critical.
6. Increase in hyperautomation
Automating processes allows businesses to improve efficiencies while reducing room for human error. This has been progressively increasing over the past couple of years in order for businesses to keep up with demand and competition. In 2021, hyperautomation – the idea that anything that can be automated should be – will be on the rise. Operating in a digital-first mode means that resilient companies will require efficiency and business agility. Most companies have a “patchwork” of technologies and systems that are not connected or optimized. Companies that still have legacy business processes that are not streamlined will create expensive and extensive issues. Organizations that don’t focus on efficiency, efficacy, and business agility will be left behind.
7. Supply chain as a competitive differentiator
Customer expectations around fulfillment and delivery have shifted, and supply chain management is no longer just a back-office concern. They can be streamlined to enhance profit margins. Intelligent supply chains are critical to delivering the fast, flexible, and reliable service customers expect from businesses. Advances in AI, sensor technology, data analytics, and blockchain are making intelligent supply chains possible. As consumer spending on e-commerce purchases is expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023, developing more agile warehouses and leveraging intelligent order routing will help retail businesses stay ahead of their competition.
Your business’s continuity and success rely on how quickly and well, you are able to harness technology to enable your workforce and build resiliency. Investing in the right technology – or making the most of your existing systems – is critical. 2021 is likely to be a year that most companies double down on technology – whether it’s experiences, operations, or products.
Will Your Business Thrive in 2021?
To thrive in the new emerging landscape, your business needs to be intelligent, agile and be able to make quick business decisions informed by up-to-date data. To successfully do this, your business needs to have better access to data and reports, efficient processes and systems, and the ability to quickly take action. The team at Kwixand Solutions can help your business become more efficient and resilient. We can help you:
Upgrade your inefficient legacy systems
Migrate from on-premises to the cloud
Review and optimize your business processes
Get you started or improve business intelligence and reporting
To learn more about how we can help, check out our full list of IT & consulting services.
Article Sources: Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021, Forrester Predictions 2021, Microsoft Dynamics 365 – 2020 Retail Trends Report