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2021 Top 10 Business Trends

Blog: Jim Sinur

We are all looking to put 2020 behind us, but there is still a significant hangover from last year. While COVID is enemy number one, we can’t take our eyes off of business. To this end, I have identified the top 10 business trends that seem to be moving to the top of the list for your attention. These are not in any priority order, but these are trends to pay attention to going forward. While these trends might start in 2021, they will persist for years.

Integration of  Business Direction & Implementation

Managing the distance between direction and implementation is rising in importance as the time to respond shrinks for organizations to continue to thrive or even capitalize on emerging situations becomes crucial.  In the past, this has been a challenge, even in good times when organizations wish to make changes. Today organizations, especially those that do not plan for emerging scenarios and the triggers that indicate their emergence, are being forced to react quickly to implement change. New methods and tools that link stakeholder outcomes to implementation efforts are starting to emerge once change need is identified. 

Changeable & Balanced Stakeholder Driven Outcomes

Two issues need to be dealt with here. One notion is outcomes that are often driven by rigid existing organizations, processes, technologies, and skill sets and are hard to change or optimize. The other is that priority is almost always given to financial bottom lines with a short-term view. This will change as agility needs will demand a reorientation around goals that are balanced to include constituent goals along with financial outcomes. As underlying processes and systems become more flexible and faster to change by business experts, the power to adapt to positive change and skill expansion blooms.

Innovation Democracy Gains Traction

Speed to good innovation will require inclusion and collaboration with more folks. The driver behind this trend is the leverage of collaboration that is focused on more than accomplishing operational work at many levels reaching into change opportunities. This opens up innovation for tactics and strategy from management only control to all those who are involved or care about the outcomes of an organization. This goes beyond an electronic “suggestion box” to the blooming of ideas while implementing the change or executing products or services.

Strategic Agility Given Priority

Often results are aimed at implementation and run forward without a thought for future change. Implementations need to be instrumented with agility in mind to adjust operationally as fast a possible. This minimally helps with strategic shifts in react mode, but savvy organizations can preplan scenarios and have agile responses ready to implement change proactively. Of course, predictive methods and tools will be of great help here. 

The Emergence of  a Security Mesh

Security is transforming from a centralized internal set of safeguards managed by one central source to a distributed approach where each asset has a set of security safeguards to start the security efforts early before things get close to the mother ship. Each step closer to the source of data and assets will have additional and even redundant security applied at its level forming a security mesh. In addition, steps towards a better and foolproof digital identity will emerge, probably additionally driven by health goals on top of the existing financial security. 

Competitive Customer Journey Experience

This will be a huge change to encourage organizations to not just think customer experience is about standard transactions coming through their channels. The customer journey often starts before and continues beyond an organization’s front door to include customer unique goals. These goals often get clustered into personas, but unique additional goals could be personalized. So the scope of customer experience is expanding from a user interface on a mobile device for instance to a holistic experience represented by a complete journey customized by a customer’s individual or aggregated goals. 

Organizational Culture of Insights

Organizations are expecting to add more analytics to become more aware in advance of reactions. The emergence of fast boards (dashboards that combine real-time with archives) will be the first step to identify signals events or patterns of interest. Organizations that want to optimize their efforts will start with important scenarios or decisions and drive the analytics in those directions. Focused analytics will be the minimum, but organizations will encourage their associates to find emerging insights and innovate with these insights, 

360 Organizational View of Interactions

Organizations often only design surveys for after the fact understanding of how effective their organizations are on several fronts. While this is an appropriate approach but does not catch many important issues and trends. To add to the complexity of the effectiveness of feedback, organizations tend to only focus on customers. There will be an expansion to all constituents and a movement to catch sentiment in real-time to respond quickly instead of reactively dealing with negative social outlets’ feedback. 

Skill Leaps Through Augmentation 

The slowest part of change is usually tied to humans and their ability to cope with change or have the proper skills to implement and live with the changes. Organizations are wise enough to not only depend on their people going out on video providers to get more skills. Organizations will invest in buying or building training videos minimally. Savvy organizations will create AI-driven bots that either give audio or video advice in the proper context. 

Real-Time Anywhere Operations

Completing work remotely is not new, but has grown in deployment rapidly in 2020 because of COVID. This trend will continue in earnest but will accelerate to real-time and dynamic. My expectation is that freelance customer service will likely become a growing trend. Dynamic labor pools and management will be a growing trend.  

Net; Net:

Thes above business trends are only tied to me and my network of associates, customers, and research. I hope these get you thinking. If you agree or disagree, I would love to hear from you. 

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