2020 has been a transformational year—in many ways. Enterprises and employees have had to adjust to new realities, both professionally and personally. Digital transformation moved from being a work-in-progress to the fast track. Telework went from a once-in-a-while thing for many people to a daily routine. Technology, including open source software, became integral in the effort towards social good.
In short, we all went through a big sea change in 2020. It was, as they say, a lot.
But the calendar will soon change. In 2021, we will likely see a continuation of many of the trends that began this past year, along with some new (and positive and exciting) opportunities that will continue to reshape the business landscape. To get a sense of where these opportunities may lie, we asked our executive team to share five predictions on trends that will impact businesses in 2021.
1. Transformational CMOs will own product innovation.
Like everything else, CMOs have transformed to meet today’s unique environment, particularly the accelerating drive toward the use of digital technologies. It used to be that CMOs were strictly responsible for strategic oversight of marketing and advertising programs. Today, they’re increasingly important to driving customer experiences, brand awareness, and business growth.
In 2021, CMOs and their marketing teams that are already using digital channels to market their solutions will be well-positioned to use different online channels to drive their organization’s product innovation strategy to address the needs of digital customers. Transformational CMOs will own product innovation and leverage omnichannel product strategies to better understand how they fit in their marketplaces—and how they can transform those marketplaces for the better.
2. The need for targeted and scalable consulting will result in the rise of “super boutiques”.
The consulting industry has been irrevocably disrupted. The rise of emerging technologies, prioritization of workforce culture, and the need for shorter, more cost-effective engagements are making long-term legacy consulting models obsolete. As companies look to enter new markets or compete with newcomers in their respective spaces, they are beginning to recognize that emerging technologies are key to unlocking these opportunities.
As a result, in 2021 we will see an increase in “super boutiques”—consulting firms that can deliver a collection of highly-skilled subject matter experts across full-stack application development. Although these firms will offer highly targeted and specialized services, they will also be able to scale according to their clients’ needs, offering a powerful combination of solutions and efficiency.
– Patrick Sheridan
3. Open source projects will move into the enterprise.
While the use of open source software in the enterprise has been growing for some time, open source projects have traditionally been considered a bit outside the mainstream. That perception is changing, though. Today, many companies are funding open source communities, which lets them determine the direction those projects take so they will ultimately benefit their businesses.
Expect this trend to continue in 2021, when we will see open source projects move from unaffiliated communities to boardrooms. Companies will fund open source projects at an increased rate. Meanwhile, more consultants will collaborate with their clients on large-scale open source development projects. Everyone will look to open source initiatives to solve pain points through innovation and provide key stepping stones for digital transformation.
4. Workplace changes will result in the end of “passion projects” and reorganized tech stacks.
The pandemic has turned the typical workplace on its head: no offices, no in-person meetings, no casual chats by the water cooler—and, in many cases, no opportunities to invest in passion projects. These are projects that employees would normally spend time working on in addition to their regular duties; fun, creative, side jobs that get employees’ juices flowing but may not necessarily add to companies’ bottom lines. As organizations continue to tighten their belts in this uncertain economy, employees will be asked to redirect their passion project energy toward initiatives that drive revenue, either directly or indirectly.
As the pandemic lingers on, there’ll also be some changes to organizational technology stacks. For example, Zoom fatigue will lead to the rise in asynchronous collaboration tools such as Aha!, Miro, Trello, and Jira. These tools provide capabilities for virtual ideation, whiteboarding, and consensus-building (without the added exhaustion!)
– Jay Garcia
5. Speed and innovation will be key to corporate success.
People often say, “slow but steady wins the race,” but laggards will find 2021 a hard year to navigate. After all, as companies look to break into new markets or develop new solutions, many fail—not because their ideas or strategies are bad, but because they’re unable or unwilling to deploy fast enough.
Thus, as organizations shift from the initial turbulence of COVID-19 to revamping their innovation efforts, the companies that succeed next year will be the ones with the ability to move fast. They will be the companies that quickly understand the voices of their customers, invest in technologies that will allow them to rapidly analyze customer data, and develop and deploy solutions at speed.
DevOps and CI/CD processes will be critical, though automation and AI and machine learning technologies will also play a key part in reaching the necessary level of acceleration. Indeed, AI and ML will help companies gain customer insights more quickly, allowing them to streamline time-sensitive user research processes and ultimately beat out their competitors.
2020 certainly didn’t turn out the way any of us expected. And while 2021 will undoubtedly hold its own share of surprises, we can be certain that the digital transformation that began over the past few years—and ramped up exponentially in 2020—will continue unabated. That transformation will impact every aspect of the business. Yes, organizations will become leaner. But they’ll also become more focused, agile, and innovative—all vital to successful transformation.
In Modus Create’s Digital Transformation Trends for 2021 e-Book, Pat Sheridan, Jay Garcia, and Drew Falkman cover these trends and how to leverage them for long term business growth in greater depth. Download the e-Book for free.