According to the respected Forrester Research organization, the main fuel behind customer value in 2021 will be digital engagement. At least a third of all leading corporations will invest in a significant digital product line, creating innovative solutions. But that will also cause disruptive problems for competitors who lag behind in terms of their own digital growth.
One of the biggest transformations will be into cloud-based operations, particularly for tasks that are vital to businesses. That will enable greater mobility and agility, while simultaneously ensuring greater security and protection from unexpected on-site interruptions of service. Many businesses already utilize cloud technology to safeguard their operations in the event of an unforeseen emergency, like a loss of electrical power or a cyber attack. But what experts forecast for 2021 is that companies will take a cloud-first approach. Instead of it being a Plan B, it will be a Plan A that incorporates cloud technology in every part of their business ecosystem. They will proactively build-in sustainable digital growth in their business models, in ways that are new and different.
Another prediction is that strategic vendor partners are expected to play an essential role in this forward momentum of digitization. They will collaborate to map-out strategies unique to the particular needs and goals of a business, then help them implement customized digital tech solutions. Instead of simply offering off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all technologies, they’ll provide tailor-made digital operating platforms with industry-specific functionalities and features. These platforms are capable of consolidating various software applications into a coordinated and seamlessly efficient technological experience. For example, separate programs for such tasks as supply chain management, resource planning, customer service, and payment processing can be combined on a single, centralized platform.
Digital Operations Platforms
Rather than being separately updated and maintained, they automatically communicate with each other in real time, reducing manual intervention to increase productivity. That digital integration helps to eliminate data silos between various business units, accelerate decision making, and automate labor-intensive tasks. That not only saves money and headaches, but translates directly into an enhanced customer experience. Employees have more time to focus on customer service, because such things as invoicing, order tracking, refunds and returns, and subscription-based services are automated. During 2020 this kind of digital operation platform emerged as a future-forward replacement for enterprise resource planning software. That momentum is forecast to continue through 2021.
Private 5G and Edge Computing
The rise in 5G technology is also expected to support the use of private networks within individual businesses. Having dedicated networks in close proximity will help eliminate latency issues, especially when using data intensive technologies like robotics. Private 5G will also facilitate the growth of edge computing, which brings data storage geographically closer to a business. That proximity can improve response times to speed up computation while also conserving bandwidth.
All of these digital trends will increase competition between vendors to come up with newer and better products and platforms. That will ultimately inspire innovations that benefit businesses and their customers in the coming year.