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Looking Ahead at 2021

Forrester predictions paint a rosy picture for industry and technology, beyond the pandemic

As the year draws to a close, it is time to look ahead and plan for the future. 2020 had been one year that no one would like to remember, and even if they do it will only be for the wrong reasons. Surprisingly however, that is not the general outlook among the business fraternity. The pandemic had been a disruptor that can only be comparable to the two World Wars in modern times. Yet, it has afforded industries to realign, relook at their priorities, take stock in light of unforeseen situations and take experimental decisions in a setting that is so unreal – yet real life. Yes, the economy has taken a hit big time; but even so, business leaders are discovering a once-in-a-century opportunity to put new ideas into actions. And the results are not that bleak too!

Against this backdrop, and looking forward to 2021, industry experts see new horizons to conquer. Several new trends are predicted to emerge on various fronts – mostly driven by the pandemic situation – but also as a result of rapidly evolving technologies in frontier research domains. And all this has been succinctly captured by the US market research company Forrester in its latest report on predictions for critical business and technology trends in 2021.

As a leading analyst of existing and potential impact of technology, Forrester survey findings paints a very positive picture for the coming year. The report reveals that the unexpected challenges of 2020 had forced companies to employ technical agility and deep customer understanding – and that, in itself, would be a boost for the future. While Forrester warns that “hard-won lessons in adaptability, creativity, and resilience will continue to serve companies as they navigate ongoing change”, it also assures that: “Top companies will cultivate resiliency, creativity, customer-obsession, and adaptability. On the tech front, every company — not just the 15% of firms that were already digitally savvy — will double down on technology-fueled experiences, operations, products, and ecosystems.”

While the summary prediction report is available online, let us take a quick look at the key predictions it makes.

  • The extreme uncertainties encountered in 2020 shall drive consumers toward escapism. They will want new consumption modes “that promise a rush of comfort, control, and happiness — even if the experiences are entirely simulated.” This means brands will have to be more creative and immersive in their approach to cater to shifting consumer expectations.
  • Rather than just focussing on the bottom-line, almost all companies will be adapting a customer-centric approach – in terms of leadership, strategy, as well as operations. The report predicts that “spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30% in 2021.”
  • Cloud would be one big area of investment with 30% of firms increasing their spend on Cloud, security, networks and mobility.
  • Edge would be another big focus area in 2021. It might even eat into the public Cloud space. Forrester is certain that “Over the next three years, buyers will shift their cloud strategies toward the edge to capture all this innovation and become more connected.”
  • Most companies will employ a hybrid work model, with fewer people in the office and more full-time remote employees. As a result, remote work practices are set to will rise by 300% compared to pre-COVID times.
  • Data security, data privacy, cyberthreats and associated legal issues will be increasing by leaps and bounds as new remote working norms continue to evolve. This will also lead to rising incidents of “insider threats” and many industries will suffer. The predictions say “33% of data breaches will be caused by insider incidents, up from 25% today.”
  • Workplace automation and the use of AI will be doubled by 35% of companies.
  • Enhanced digital buying habits will encourage more B2B models across industries.

For more details, you can access the summary report at https://go.forrester.com/predictions-2021/

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