The transformations in markets, trends and consumer preferences are happening at a remarkably fast rate, and businesses are constantly being pushed to develop better digital experiences. This strive for excellence requires keeping up with the latest and emerging technology trends in order to be one step ahead.
From smart solutions that change the way we shop, work and communicate, to sophisticated computing systems that vigorously protect our privacy, 2021 has got some big development goals in store for us all.
Furthermore, as companies and individuals continue to follow a ‘digital first, remote first’ model of operations, we are expecting to witness many technological advancements in automation, eCommerce, customer experience, and more efficient 24/7 connection.
Without further ado, let’s take a more detailed look into 7 technology trends in business to look forward to in 2021.
With the increased efficiency, productivity and speed of digital technologies, there’s always a way to improve and automate business processes further. By adopting hyperаutomation, organizations can simplify, digitize and streamline their processes so they can be handled automatically via a software-based solution.
This approach leverages both artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to effectively coordinate and combine the various tools of a business’ technology stack. The goal is to foster full automation and digitalization of any legacy process, thus enabling companies to reallocate team members to more valuable positions.
Additionally, hyperautomation can help organizations become intelligent composable businesses with technologies and practices that help improve agility and resilience. This means that companies would have to design and implement architecture that can allow better access to information, that can use new insights to augment that information, and that is modular, composable and able to quickly respond and adapt to the situation as decisions are made.
2. Data as an Indispensable Asset
In 2021, businesses would have to protect and secure data the same way they would with any other asset, while also finding ways to boost data literacy within their organization. Data volumes have grown significantly over the last few years, so companies that are able to successfully interpret and use data to improve their operations could outperform their competition.
To reach such a competitive advantage, organizations would have to invest in the right systems and technologies. They would have to ensure effective and efficient analysis, processing and storing of large volumes of information, that can then be accessed from all team members.
Some of these systems include:
- Intelligence of Things – When AI is added to smart connected objects they become intelligent and are able to bring significant contributions to the data growth we’re currently experiencing.
For businesses this means concentrating on developing and selling smart products to gather unique insights about how customers use such items. This can thus help generate new streams of income, and optimize operations.
- Cloud Solutions – The “cloud” is an indispensable technology trend solution when it comes to creating data-driven ecosystems, which many organisations depend on today. In 2021 these solutions are expected to be optimized to support business scaling, new technology adoption, as well as improved remote learning.
- Customer Data Platforms (CDP) – Since companies rely on well-curated and timely data in order to operate optimally, CPDs can ensure that no fragmented data slows down this process. These platforms can also help collect and organize data from all available sources, thus making it usable for anyone needing access to it.
3. Headless eCommerce
Headless technologies have been around for some time now and recently they have started to surge through the eCommerce landscape. According to a survey from BigCommerce, as much as 86% of businesses report that their customer acquisition costs (CAC) have increased over the past few years. Around 59% of them believe that to reduce CAC it will be important to improve their customers’ digital experience.
Headless technologies offer a great solution to this problem, which is why we will see more eCommerce turning to them to refresh their tech stack. A headless eCommerce solution is essentially a combination of technologies that help push and pull product and content information to new front-ends that allows companies to extend their shopping experience to new channels and devices.
Thanks to the rise of the internet of things (IoT) technologies, consumers can now tell Alexa, Google, Siri to buy something for them online without having to visit the merchant’s website at all. By adopting headless technologies, retailers can leverage emerging technologies such as voice assistants, wearables and smart appliances, while still benefiting from traditional channels like web, social media or email.
The implication here, however, is that a retailer’s eCommerce platform must have the right APIs and services that would allow them to design custom shopping experiences through cutting edge-channels. Done right, headless shopping can help improve a business’ omnichannel strategy, and provide better ways to manage customer expectations.
4. Privacy Enhancing Tech
The need for organizations to share data across teams and with partners while maintaining privacy or security is significantly increasing, hence why privacy enhancing technologies (PET) will be very important for any business in 2021. With the help of these technologies, different parties can extract valuable insights from data and get actionable results, without exclusively sharing the actual data between one another.
According to Gartner, PET includes three types of data protecting solutions, thanks to which businesses can share and exchange data without sacrificing confidentiality:
- A trusted environment in which sensitive data can be processed or analyzed.
- Decentralized processing and analytics that involve privacy-aware machine learning.
- Data and algorithms encryption that include technologies and practises thanks to which data can be securely differentiated, encrypted, managed and retrieved.
The applications of privacy enhancing tech are very diverse. From fraud detection and internal data analysis, to medical research and HR, PETs enable organizations to use real-time data, without worrying about compromising privacy.
With a PET, your company can leverage various datasets, which it doesn’t have access to, because the data is securely encrypted and managed to provide only the specific information each party needs – nothing less and nothing more. This means that you can work directly with other businesses, without needing to go through third-party providers.
5. A Well-Rounded Total Experience
Total experience combines customer experience, user experience, and employee experience to transform and improve the overall business experience of all stakeholders. By using this approach organizations will be able to optimize and streamline all experiences. What is more, it would help businesses differentiate themselves from competitors in a difficult to replicate way thus creating a sustainable competitive advantage.
The whole total experience process relies heavily on technologies with communications at the forefront. The right communications tools are key when delivering optimal experiences for both customers and employees. They help connect individuals, improve workflow, and are important drivers of loyalty and satisfaction.
Additionally, with a well-rounded total experience organizations will be equipped with the technology trends necessary and practises to manage digital risks. This will help them find new activities to integrate and build upon, while improving their operations processes by reducing costs, delays and inefficiencies.
6. ‘Digital First, Remote First’ Business model
The rapid digitalization and automation of every business process is slowly changing the business models we know to ‘digital first, remote first’ operations. With a model of anywhere operations organizations can offer, access and deliver their core activities to wherever their customers, employers and business partners operate.
In this new model of business operations, the digital should be the default for operations at all times. This means that the physical space should be digitally optimized so it serves the same function as its counterpart.
This will be especially useful when it comes to remote working. To support such work arrangements businesses will have to expand their IT infrastructure. Companies will have to equip employees with more portable devices and video conferencing subscriptions. And what is more, they will have to adopt more virtual machines and adjust their privacy protection practices.
7. Increased Development of 5G Infrastructure
Since remote work, videoconferencing and digital collaboration has become a core part of our lives, the demand for higher-speed internet and a shift toward well-connected devices has pushed the advancement of 5G technology.
Telecommunications companies are fighting hard to be the first to make such technologies available to the public. At the same time, startups are researching and developing innovative ways in which 5G can benefit all aspects of our lives, especially when it comes to smart-city projects and autonomous mobility.
A faster network would open up countless possibilities for better adoption of IoT, increased application of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) for better and more interactive experiences, network-as-a-service and edge solutions that can support remote collaboration, and so much more.
In 2021, the desire to innovate and transform will affect many, if not all, business aspects and processes. From more automated communications, to improved data management and remote work cooperations, many organizations are likely to adopt a ‘digital first, remote first’ model of operations.
Privacy protecting technologies will play a crucial role when moving into the digital transformation era. Since devices are getting smarter and more intelligent, individuals are becoming more connected than ever before, and large volumes of data are generated on a daily basis meaning that there’s so much that can go wrong, unless the right technologies are implemented.