With 2021 sharply approaching it’s important to take time to reflect on this turbulent year and identify the trends for next year.
Below, we have collated the thoughts of some of the most exciting tech organisations and have shared their predictions for the upcoming year which will define their industry.
Certified Professional Organizer and Head of Global Engagement Marketing at Asana
“When the UK was plunged head-first into remote work in March 2020, business leaders did what they needed to do. They gave employees the tools they would need to survive in a fully remote environment. However, we’re now in danger of fuelling app overload. Our data shows employees at enterprises are using 10 apps for remote work, switching between them 25 times a day. This has consequences. Due to switching between apps, 27 percent of workers miss messages and actions, and 25 percent end up duplicating work.
In 2021, business leaders should take a critical eye to the tech stack deployed to help teams cope with the rapid transition to remote work. A lot of those tools, like Asana, Zoom and Slack will stay in place to support workers in distributed work. But ensuring employees know the purpose of each app they are using, and how they are using it is vital to keeping teams aligned and avoiding ‘work about work’ (such as searching for information and duplicating work) in 2021.”
CTO at CircleCI
“Unpredictable market trends mixed with a high level of agitation means that there will be problems to solve and energy needed to solve it. Things are going to move fast, so don’t spend your time in stealth mode.
Don’t build in secret; build in public. Don’t take your time making it perfect; build something imperfect and get feedback on it as quickly as possible. Get in front of your potential customers, fix fast, and keep moving.”
President and Co-Founder of Clearbanc
“2020 has been devastating for so many businesses and the UK economy has been hit hard with Brexit and COVID combination. These circumstances are forcing businesses to pivot to online and build things we never imagined, because our needs have totally changed. The 2008 recession saw a huge wave of startups that went on to some of the biggest exits in the last couple years like Airbnb, Uber & Whatsapp. I benefited from the early stage of this boom when my company was acquired by Groupon in 2014. I think we’ll look back at 2020 and see that some of the most creative companies in healthcare, AI and ecommerce were started while we were all stuck at home trying to solve problems.”
CEO of Code First Girls
“Today, women make up only 17% of IT specialists in the UK, and a mere 35% of women pursuing STEM at higher education level – but this is changing. As we transition into 2021, companies globally will take the opportunity to reshape the way we work and fight to achieve gender parity in the workplace. By empowering women to upskill in technology, businesses across industries can establish a work culture that enables women to thrive.
At a time when businesses are facing increased uncertainty, a highly-skilled diverse team is invaluable and such a workforce doesn’t need to be solely outsourced. Instead, forward-looking organisations will look to their existing employees and provide opportunities to support upskilling and personal growth. Whether in person or through the use of a video-conferencing tool, businesses can partner with organisations dedicated to creating tailored training sessions – empowering attendees with new skills and perspectives. Not only does this help futureproof the business, but this also demonstrates a commitment to a company culture that values its employees.
In the new year, don’t rest on your laurels. Take the initiative to set an industry example for 2021, educate and upskill women. The businesses that get this right, and build a diverse and inclusive workplace for women, will thrive.”
Founder and CEO of Disciple
“If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that humans are infinitely adaptable. As we’ve seen traditional employers struggle to meet the demands of constantly-changing lockdown and furlough legislation, we’ve found more and more fledgeling entrepreneurs turning their own interests and passions into alternative revenue streams.
In order for this raft of new businesses to be successful, they need to bring their content and their audience together in one place – and this is where we can expect to see real growth in 2021.
The growth of online communities will skyrocket as an increasing number of entrepreneurs and creators recognise the value these networks can have in supercharging their business. Many of them are now using digital platforms to grow communities of like-minded individuals from all over the world.
When digital communities bring audiences together in one place where they can engage with the content they love, this space gives creators a real opportunity to build real value by monetising their fans with subscriptions, online courses, and premium content.
This kind of engagement and targeting is something that can’t be matched by traditional social media or mailing lists, which is why we anticipate sustained increase through 2021.”
Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing & International Expansion at Fiverr
“Whilst the pandemic has been incredibly hard on small businesses – one key learning has been the proof that many employees can work from anywhere, any time. Even as vaccines become available, it’s unlikely we will go back to the office full time. The demand for full-time office work simply isn’t there. Business leaders therefore need to ensure they are equipping their staff with the skills to manage and operate in a hybrid team.
The workforce structure itself is also changing, and we’ll see this coming to fruition in 2021. Many businesses don’t want to take the risk of hiring full-time employees to meet spikes in work that may prove transient – so we believe the year ahead will bring with it a continued trend towards agility. Bringing freelance specialists in to fully digitised workflows to help cope with this extra demand is something we’ve seen many businesses doing through 2020 – and expect the trend to continue to grow through 2021.”
More businesses will recognise the value of hiring freelancers as a solution to filling in the skills gap they may have in their immediate teams. Opting to hire freelancers rather than full-time employees will help small businesses be able to acquire an agile, on-demand workforce which can help with their wider business goals without affecting their cash flow.
VP EMEA at ThoughtSpot
“Over a decade ago, seeing basic data skills on a candidate’s CV could really make them stand out. Today, those skills have become an expected norm.
As both the existing and incoming workforce become more data literate, analytics employers will start to expect skills as standard for all business professionals. It is likely that “data proficiency” will disappear from CVs within the next few years, just as “Office proficiency” has. With this transition, the industry has entered a third wave of analytics, with business users now expected to be able to interact with data and understand it by themselves, without the help of a specialist data expert. Moving forward, if you are unable to combine hard data and business context to inform execute business decisions, you will find yourself falling behind the expected skill level.
To become the ideal candidate for businesses in 2021 and beyond, workers will need to both understand and communicate data – because very soon, employers will not only demand but expect data literacy. To get ahead, these are skills which people should be investing time to acquire now if to get ahead.”
CTO at Pipedrive
“The past year has been catalytic in helping even the most conservative of industries embrace technology. The onset of the pandemic caused an abrupt halt to traditional ways of working and this trend is set to continue well into the new year and beyond. Not least because local lockdowns and social distancing measures are unlikely to be a thing of the past any time soon.
The demand for innovative solutions has risen due to the impact of COVID-19, and is set to reach even higher levels in 2021. It’s giving industries the motivation to invest in digitalisation and automation. As a result, a virtuous cycle will form: with the surge in demand comes more willingness to use online services and a better understanding of the utility of digitalisation, which in turn increases trust in technology and drives its deployment across all industries. In addition, the acceleration of even more streamlined and effective solutions will supercharge the process, leading to a sustained rise in technological development and business success.
In 2021, we can expect to see even more daring, outside-the-box concepts aiming to solve any challenge the new year brings.”