You don’t need us to tell you how the last year has turned virtually every industry on its head. We saw it first-hand, in our work with organisations across healthcare, government, leisure, media and financial services. Each sector faced its own unique blend of challenges, which required rapid technology innovation to tackle.
The pandemic will continue to shape life throughout 2021. The good news is that technology will again be a vital support for businesses, care providers and governments. Here are some of the trends we expect to see over the coming year.
1. Greater collaboration to tackle big challenges
Humanity is facing some of the biggest challenges in its history at the moment. Alongside the healthcare and economic issues brought about by the pandemic, there are longer-standing problems in urgent need of attention, such as climate change.
On a more micro level, changes in society and the economy are forcing organisations to rapidly alter the way they operate. New business models, products, services and ways of working will continue to be required, to ensure organisations can remain relevant and viable in a world living with Covid-19.
Both the macro and the micro challenges demand quick action and innovative solutions, which means many organisations won’t have the skills in-house to deliver them, nor the time to build up the necessary capability. For these reasons, expect to see increased collaboration, with organisations of all sizes, and across all sectors, working closely together to address the challenges they – and humanity – face.
2. Deeper-level personalisation of customer experiences across all sectors
People have become used to organisations collecting data about their preferences and past interactions, and expect to see these insights used to personalise the overall experience and service offering. Some organisations and sectors have been better at doing this than others.
For those that have lagged behind, 2021 needs to be the year when they go all-in on personalisation, to create experiences on a par with the best ones their customers will be enjoying from organisations in other areas.
3. KPI-driven technology development and transformation
With finances under pressure due to the economic consequences of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for organisations to spend their tech budgets where they deliver genuine and maximum value.
Businesses and public sector bodies need to define the key performance indicators (KPIs) that demonstrate whether the organisation is moving towards its short- and long-term goals. These will become the yardsticks by which every iteration of a tech project – and the decision over whether to proceed with the next – is measured.
4. A greater push to optimise for voice
Various studies (including one by Creative Strategies) have found that people are much more likely to use voice assistants in their homes than when they’re in the office or in public. And with many people spending longer at home because of the pandemic, this will mean a further uptick in the proportion tech interactions taking place via voice.
Organisations have long been adept at optimising their websites and user interfaces for point-and-click or tap interfaces and text-based searches. Optimising for voice interaction requires different approaches. Expect 2021 to bring significantly greater focus on tailoring systems and content for voice searches and interactions.
5. Productisation of AI-driven data analytics tools
Wearable technology, our use of the internet across virtually every aspect of our lives, and near-limitless low-cost cloud storage, mean it’s easier than ever to collect and store data about the way we live, work, shop and play. But as these datasets get bigger and more complex, unlocking real value from them becomes increasingly difficult.
This is where machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) can be a huge help. Some organisations have developed their own tools to do this, but we expect 2021 to see an uptick in the availability of sector-specific, off-the-shelf products that use AI to help businesses and the public sector leverage greater value from their growing datasets.
How do you see tech changing the way your organisation operates?
As ever, we’re keen to hear your technology expectations and aspirations for 2021 as well. Where do you expect tech to have the biggest impact on your life and work? What will be the most significant breakthrough? And where do you see the greatest opportunities for humanity to use technology to address the challenges it faces?