2020 is almost over, which is probably a relief for many of you. To say it’s been a unique year is an understatement. But as we try to move forward with optimism for 2021, we have to start thinking about what might be changing and how we need to adjust our plans. So let’s go over a few emerging trends that could be meaningful to you or your colleagues in 2021 and beyond, and how they may impact your life.
Value In The Technology Experience
Think about the IT products and services you have used in the past several months. Netflix, Amazon, Office 365, and Zoom are just a few of the ones that may come to mind. You’ll probably notice that there is a strong correlation between demand for the product and the ease and convenience of the experience itself.
For example, it’s incredibly valuable, especially during difficult times, to be able to go on Amazon or Instacart, pick out your groceries, and have them show up at your door very quickly. Even before the pandemic made grocery shopping online more popular, consumers embraced conveniences like self service checkout, mobile phone payments, and other things that made the buying experience easier, even if the products and services themselves didn’t save money or provide a better consumable product.
Unfortunately, the pandemic isn’t over, and even when it is don’t expect people to want to go back to products and services that take away some of the conveniences we have leaned into over the past several months.
So how can this translate to the business world? Think about how you provide value to your customers now, and in 2021 consider how you and your team can make the delivery more valuable and your client’s experience better using technology. It could have serious benefits moving forward.
A Greater Focus on Data Privacy and Compliance
Now more than ever, retailers and other businesses are finding unique ways to exploit data from social media and other outlets to target potential customers. The increase in the collection of personal data is something that has been going on for several years now. While many organizations have been more than happy to use the data to their benefit, many others have not done their due diligence when it comes to protecting personal data and respecting the rights of the individual.
But now governments and other entities with a stake in data privacy are pushing for stronger controls on organizations that collect and use personal data. So in 2021 and beyond, don’t be surprised to see more local and federal privacy laws, as well as new compliance standards for specific types of sensitive data. I recommend that you start by taking inventory of the sensitive data that your organization may collect (think: credit card info, patient data, and other personally identifiable information) and coming up with ways to protect it now. That way, if an auditor comes knocking at your door, you are prepared to show your diligence.
The shift to Work From Home has a serious impact on expectations for the products and services we use. If we are expected to be productive in our homes, while children and pets are in the background, and the hours we work have become less defined, we need to have flexibility from the devices and services we use to accomplish our goals. As a technology services company, we know that many of our clients are going to have issues that require us to be on call no matter what time of day it is.
Well, there’s no reason to expect this to change. Have you ever tried to go online late at night after you are done working to get customer service for an issue with a product, only to find that their customer service hours ended at 7 PM? Did it make you feel less valued? Perhaps not everything in the world requires the urgency of anytime/anywhere, but it’s important to think about what your customers need in order to provide them value in a world that has people working in non-traditional ways. Think about ways that you can utilize technology to better serve your customers and your business as demand shifts.
Improved Virtual Meetings
2020 was the Virtual Meeting gold rush. It became clear this spring that we were going to have some kind of remote workforce for the foreseeable future, and any kinds of large gatherings and meetings where lots of business got done couldn’t happen the way they used to. But even during lockdowns, life had move on. The world suddenly embraced virtual meetings, and Zoom became a household name.
Initially, our standards for an effective virtual meeting were pretty basic. We wanted to be able to see multiple people at once and schedule meetings. But there was untapped potential. Already, Zoom and its competitors like Microsoft Teams are adding more features and functionality to their tools, such as file sharing and document collaboration. So now, instead of simply settling for virtual meetings, we can start to view them as more of a productive, and possibly preferred way of meeting. In 2021, expect to see these products to continue to evolve and our reliance on them to increase even as things get back to normal in the world.
These are just a few trends I think you should keep in mind in 2021. To hear more about this topic, I encourage you to check out our webinar: Preparing Your IT Strategy for an Uncertain Future.
What are you looking forward to in 2021? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Until next time, stay vigilant my friends.