TREND #1: AI
The customer journey is now an almost exclusively online experience. AI technologies like chatbots and virtual assistants are front and center when it comes to responding to this experience and meeting modern B2B buyer expectations. Forrester points out that providing an immediate connection for the client is not the only goal. The new challenge is to provide virtual assistance that is more subtle, pro-client and able to respond to more open-ended questions offering relevant content recommendations.
More and more consumers are increasingly concerned about the unethical and unauthorized use of AI. An example from not long ago was the recent fiasco of UK’s A-level grading AI engine, which discriminated against a significant percentage of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Companies adopting AI have to pay attention to the ethical impact and check it against the negative effects on customers.
TREND #2: CYBERSECURITY
Always a strategic concern, but now more relevant than ever before. The December attack on the top US cybersecurity company FireEye says everything about its critical clout for businesses worldwide.
Covid-19 has led to a situation where most devices and assets are distributed outside of the company. Forrester predicts 33% of data breaches will be caused by internal incidents, compared to 25% today. In 2021 we are going to observe the accelerated growth of the cybersecurity mesh model. Businesses will implement hybrid security tools allowing remote workers to securely access a company’s digital assets – no matter its location.
TREND #3: INTERNET OF BEHAVIORS
The Covid-19 pandemic has made our behavior more digital. For businesses it means constant focus on the customer experience. To achieve better results, they have to streamline and be able to understand the data coming from a range of sources, commercial customer data and social media behavior. Such a massive amount of data requires powerful technology to analyze it in order to design solutions to meet customer preferences. Technology will be the another game-changer when it comes to socioeconomic transformation.
The flip side of the coin is the social and ethical implications from collecting data and using them to influence behavior. In 2021, winning companies will be those which are able to interact smoothly with customers, at the same time ensuring privacy compliance and preserving customers’ trust. We will observe growth in digital tools, helping organizations utilize data while protecting customers’ privacy.
TREND #4: TOTAL EXPERIENCE
In Top Strategic Technology Trends For 2021, Gartner highlighted multiexperience as a strategic tech trend. It clearly suggests the importance of matching up all of the perspectives – the customer experience, employee experience and user experience. The key to success is to integrate new requirements.
Such an approach will not only be harder for competitors to replicate, but will also provide an extra competitive edge for the business. In practice, companies faced with emerging challenges need to embrace more digital agility to stay ahead of their rivals. Having a deep customer understanding of how preferences continue to change allows you to optimize customer journeys on every touchpoint with the brand.
TREND #5: HYBRID CLOUD
Hybrid cloud infrastructure is already the dominant strategy for many enterprises, and this trend will continue to expand. The hybrid cloud involves a blend of on-premises infrastructure, private and public cloud services.
Leveraging the hybrid cloud environment helps strike a suitable balance for the unique cloud needs of a business. Investment in the hybrid cloud is essential to stay responsive to changing customer requirements and address the challenges of security, data privacy and compliance.
TREND #6: 5G
We have all heard in recent years that the next generation of wireless and communications technology will change the world. Then the Covid-19 outbreak increased demand for 5G coverage. Now the reasons to launch are much more than simply to speed up the digital transformation of the business ecosystem. Nowadays, almost every business needs increased speeds, resilient and low latency technology to cover connectivity and bandwidth demand.
TREND #7: ANYWHERE OPERATIONS MODEL
The social and economic challenges of 2020 have made it vital for companies to be highly responsive to the changing expectations of customers and employees, and effortlessly adjust organizational operations. The “anywhere operations” model is closely related to an IT operating model. The expectation to offer support anywhere for customers and employees, and provide business services across distributed channels, will be a top strategic technology trend for 2021.
With no exaggeration we can say that 2020 brought deeper and faster digital transformation processes for business than at any time over the last decade.
It will be interesting to see which of the current mainstream technologies will win the battle to grow and enhance their position next year. Are we going to observe AI, data analysis and automation still at the top of the list, or will they be dominated by new technology trends?
Time will tell how the future will be shaped, but the chances of seeing a new setup of emerging technologies are high. The key steps each business leader has to take in 2021 are to stay vigilant, learn continuously, adapt operations and be involved with proven infrastructure providers.