Each October, research and consulting firm Forrester releases its annual Predictions report. This report outlines shifts and key innovations in business and technology. Change has always presented businesses with challenges and opportunities. But the COVID-19 pandemic raised the stakes and left companies two options: adapt or get left behind.
If 2020 had one underlying theme, it would be disruption. Companies that thrived through the pandemic embraced digitization and innovation. Businesses improved their e-Commerce infrastructure to pull consumers away from marketplaces like Amazon. They invested in immersive digital experiences to drive consumer engagement. Employees now have more leverage than ever in when, where, and how they work.
As 2021 draws to a close, where do business and tech leaders go from here? Here are four industry-defining predictions from this year’s report:
“Consumers see the world as all digital.”
The pandemic has drastically shifted consumers’ relationships to technology. In April of 2020, more than 60% of online US adults said they conducted a new activity online. This included virtual religious services, telehealth appointments, and fully-remote conventions. Nearly half upgraded their in-home technology during this period.
The growth in demand for digital experiences is not slowing down. Consumers continue to increase their expectations for seamless, user-friendly digital platforms:
- 56% of US consumers believe that businesses should have already digitized their operations.
- 58% expect future improvements to this digital infrastructure for future public health emergencies.
“Tech execs leap from digital to human-centered technology transformations.”
Corporate leaders are shifting their efforts to using technology for employee wellbeing. Digitized workflows and adoption of video-conferencing technology enable employees to work from anywhere. Companies are experimenting with predictive algorithms designed to maximize productivity and reduce burnout.
Tech investment designed to improve employee wellbeing keeps attrition rates below industry averages. This investment should focus employee outcomes, even at the expense of short-term profits. The data is clear – employees that feel supported are more productive.
“B2B marketers accelerate technology investments, with uneven results.”
As the world continues to digitize, B2B marketers need to rethink their strategies. 70% of B2B marketers will adopt the “always-on” approach to personalized digital engagement in 2022, maintaining 24/7 brand awareness and penetration across channels. Despite this trend:
- 75% of personalized engagement strategies will fail to reach ROI goals.
- Only 10% of B2B marketers will use measurement to gauge success during the buying process.
B2B buyers base their decisions on a firm’s competency throughout the process. Measuring success over time provides B2B marketers with the insight to meet goals. Firms that embrace measurement will strengthen existing client relationships and attract new business.
“Accessibility becomes a major business priority.”
Moving into 2022, accessibility and ESG commitments will move beyond lip-service.
- Accessibility related job-listings increased 78% YoY between July 2020-21.
- 26% of US firms underwent DEI training for the first time in 2021.
The report breaks down accessibility into two distinct subcategories: digital and social.
Digital accessibility is the design of technology with different end-users in mind. More than 30% of design teams have implemented top-down commitments to digital accessibility.
Social accessibility in business means fostering a safe and inclusive workplace environment. It can also mean taking a stance on the issues most important to consumers. The MLB moved the All-Star game out of Atlanta when Georgia restricted voter access. They joined the growing list of organizations aligning themselves with social values.
- In 2022, 50% of US consumers will make buying decisions based on their social values.
“In 2022, the new normal will be more new than it will be normal.”
As 2021 draws to a close, businesses and consumers are establishing new relationships. Consumer demand for user-friendly digital platforms will continue to increase. Brands will contend with social issues as values-based consumer spending rises. Investment in technology will drive innovation in cloud computing, AI and the IoT.
The common thread is disruption – fundamental changes to how we live and work. Companies that embrace disruption and adapt accordingly will grow and thrive in 2022 and beyond.