Futurist Bernard Marr has compiled, for Forbes, a list of key trends and guidelines to prepare himself and others for business in the new environment.
Work from home as standard
Whether offices are still the most productive workplace and whether companies should reconsider their business models is a question that companies, after the corona crisis, regularly ask themselves.
In Croatian society, there is a common thinking that working from home means slacking off, or “not working from home”. And while some would agree, others strongly plead this kind of work. That is why in 2021 companies should consider providing employees with a choice of whether they want to work from the comfort of their own home or from the office.
P.S. there are a number of ways to check whether employees practice work or non-work from home.
Data as an asset
The amount of data available to companies has risen sharply in recent years. The companies that best understand the needs of their customers are the ones that make the most optimal decisions, and all that thanks to the use of data about the target audience. Companies must protect their data just like any other asset. Data literacy of employees is a very important component that they need to review. It also requires investment in systems that can efficiently process, analyze and archive the flow of data in the organization.
Business model innovation
In 2021, every manager must think about their offers and how the business is progressing. Industries such as catering and event management in 2020 were forced to completely transform the way they do business. Companies that thrive in such a globally bad situation are very likely to be the ones that have reacted quickly to change. And while companies have always had to think about, and keep up with, market changes, in 2021 adjusting the business model will be more important than ever.
Examples are restaurants that have included home delivery in their services or stores that have integrated a web shops on their websites.
The business trend that has already started, and which will fully flourish in 2021, is automation. Companies will increasingly evaluate processes and areas where they do not need manpower, or where they do not provide any real, added value. There has already been quite a shift in this direction; from warehouses, supply chains, autonomous vehicles, trucks and ships to chatbots that automatically take over customer assistance queries. It is expected that computers and smart robots will do more and more work instead of humans.
The economic turmoil resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is still relevant in the capital market. This is a challenge for companies looking to raise capital, expand or start a new business. Decentralized financing is therefore a new trend in fundraising through: crowdfunding, blockchain technologies, etc. It is predicted that such a way of financing will increase in 2021.
Finding new ways to provide services to customers who did not go to stores during the pandemic is crucial for some companies to keep their business alive. Therefore, some of them have started thinking about how some services can be provided in digital forms using technology such as virtual or augmented reality and mixed reality. To encourage people to adhere to measures to stay at home, companies have made it possible to use virtual avatars to “try on” makeup, glasses and clothing.
Going from global to local
2020 has brought many reasons why more and more people are thinking locally instead of globally. COVID-19 disrupted international supply chains, tensions between the US and China are rising, Brexit was voted on and implemented. Companies have begun to rethink the way they procure and sell their goods because international turmoil could disrupt their plans and business. Localizing sales and production, Marr says, are also attractive for raising environmental awareness.
Purposeful and meaningful
The younger generations increasingly want to work in companies that have real meaning and in which they can connect with purpose. The trend is to have more purpose and meaning in our affairs. Companies that do not have a clear or meaningful purpose will struggle to attract a talented workforce and customers at the same time.
Sustainability is an issue that is increasingly prevalent in the business world. Companies recognize that the environmental crisis could do more harm to the world than the pandemic itself, so every company needs to review its business, environmental impact, and the products and services it provides.
During the pandemic, brands relied on interaction with their existing and potential customers on social media. In 2021, a major shift is projected towards a more authentic presence on social media and one to which media relations professionals pay less attention, e.g., the actual appearance of the company behind the scenes. In addition, influencers and micro-influencers will be engaged in your industry, ie key people who conduct conversations and get in direct contact with your customers.