What awaits us in the upcoming year? Business trends 2021

I’ve recently remembered a movie I saw during my university timesĀ –Ā Strange Days. Why mention it now? Thinking about this year, I can only say to myself, “strange days”!

The start of the pandemic caught me during our 2020 leadership planning meeting. Nothing we hadĀ planned during those two days was done. Everything was adjusted to what was unfolding in front of us.

Now, the simple things are missing. I haven’t been to the cinema since February. In the years to come, we may no longer have reasons to go to the cinema. New movies might first arrive in our homes instead. At least it will end the need for overpriced popcorn and sodas for us, parents.

Key points

  • What is the keyword to describe the last 10 months?
  • What has the 2020’s new reality given us?
  • What trends will shape our actions in 2021?

We always want to name things. It gives us some familiarity with the situation and a way to define what is happening.

How to define the trend happening around us now?

People started to use the term VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) forĀ our new reality.Ā Some call itĀ “the new normal”Ā to distinguish it fromĀ “the old normal”, which was only 10 months ago.

Is it a new normal? Or has it all been with us all along, and just happened quicker?Ā 

There are things that we don’t miss at all. Let’s admit it:

  • Daily commute to work (and schools for those with kids) and everyday traffic
  • Time spent at airports and on flights
  • Traveling to another city for 4 hours to attend a 30-minute meeting.

The idea of taking a 14-hour flight to attend a conference now seems as distant as the Moon on the night sky.

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But there are also things that we (or at least I) are missing:

  • The buzz of meeting other people in person and the casual exchange of ideas and thoughts. The best ideas often start by the coffee machine with “Hey, do you have a minute?”
  • Meeting clients where they are, to get the feelĀ forĀ the environment and what is going onĀ inĀ the project, and not at people’s home offices.

So, what is “the new normal”?

The keyword here is “ACCELERATION”.

It’s not that this year has turned everything upside down. It has accelerated trends andĀ actionsĀ that were already in motion.

What it requires from us all is a re-evaluation of our priorities and plans for the years ahead.

There’s one thing to be avoided for sure: trying to get back to “how it used to be.” We can’t get back to what was planned before 2020.

There is no way back as everyone around us has accelerated in new directions. Those who will try to get back to the previous path will be left behind in the long term.

These are the key trends I observed this year, and which will shape our actions in 2021.

  1. There is no way back to full-time office work anymore

The majority of us now work in a more or less (usually more) remote way. The major technology players already announced no full return to the offices in the future,Ā even after COVID-19 is gone.

This will stay with us and will force businesses to re-evaluate many areas:

  • Attracting and hiring new talent
  • Skills to look for in that unique talent and in our current crew
  • Remote work infrastructure and security around it (crucial!).

Offices for most of us will not be an everyday environment but a “touchpoint.” We’ll go there to checkĀ in with others, attend training, and meet some people.

This will drive a lot of changes around us.

At Predica, P stands for People, and people will follow interesting jobs and leaders, not offices.Ā 

Check out thisĀ fascinating thread on TwitterĀ from Founder and CEO of FirstbaseHQ, Chris Herd.Ā Short-form but insightful.

  1. Digital experience is all that matters

What has changed for me this year? I haven’t been to a store (other than for groceries) since February. None! Nada! Null!

It’s been a full 10 months without visiting a shopping center or a mall, yet I have everything I need.

I don’t miss it. E-commerce combined with fulfillment logistics delivers more and better (I’m happy to know that we are part of this effort with our project with Damco).

You might think that it is not relevant for you because you are not in e-commerce. It is!

People will expect a “DIGITAL” experience from every business in every capacity.Ā We are all tired of “digital transformation” (let’s be frank about it – we are fed up with this term), so we will have to coin a new term to describe it. Regardless of the word, it is a reality – people, your employees or customers, will need a “DIGITAL” experience.

Things delivered remotely, lightweight, on request, from anywhere.

I can see it in our clients’ initiatives and projects we are talking about and planning for 2021. It is all about moving to digital services.

  1. In technology, massive-scale cloud providers have proven their model works (and has its challenges)

The sudden shift from FY’20 caused all major cloud providers to experience problems. Then some outages happened. It showed that nobody is bulletproof and that there are still servers behind all this cool tech.

And yet, massive cloud providers have fueled this entire year from the technology point of view and dominated the market. (You could see it when the AWS region went down).

The cloud is not a silver bullet.Ā It is NOT a key to success, and you can build your business without it. There will be businesses built on-premises or moving away from the public cloud.

But it will be the right move for most of us, to use it to help our digital business grow.

The industry is concentrating around big players: Amazon, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba (yes, those three), with Google and others to follow. Whether it is a good thing, we will see in years to come.

For now, make sure you understand:

  • The reasons your organization goes in one or another technology direction
  • The cost and financial models for all services you plan to use
  • How this tech is connected to your business outcome
  • That it will take the right people with the right skills, and you need to invest in them.

Those trends are a HUGE opportunity to build a new foundation between IT and the rest of the organization. Technology is the primary driver to enable these changes:

  • Deliver a work environment for people who are dispersed across time zones and places.
  • Be a delivery arm for your business at scale.

That’s where I see the world now and in theĀ comingĀ years.

Time for a break!

However you’ve spent the last weeks of 2020: whether it’s time off with family, holidays, or finishing your projects at work, I hope it was a good time. I know it has been a challenging but a good year.

2021 is here. Brace for impact!Ā 

I don’t know what it will bring. I will not make any specific predictions, but I know one thing. It will be faster than last year in the rate of change and acceleration of technology adoption in enterprises.

Every business we work with is going digital in one way or another, changing its processes, tools, applications. And the rate of this process is accelerating.

Happy new year, my friends.

Key takeaways

  1. 2020’s events contributed to the acceleration of the “digital experience”. Right now, the main concern of businesses should be to adjust to this new reality, instead of trying to get back to the “old normal”.
  2. Three trends that will shape the world in 2021 are: remote work, even post-COVID; consumers expecting the availability of most of the services they use in the digital world; more and more organizations growing their businesses through cloud adoption.

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