Following COVID-19, the pace of digital transformation has accelerated replacing the previous slow but steady approach.
Faced with unprecedented challenges, companies have no choice but to adapt to a radically changed business climate. Driving factors include:
Looking forward, here are eight digital transformation trends to consider in 2021.
1: Investment in Digital Transformation Has Accelerated
As companies grapple with COVID-19 fall-out, they have accelerated digital transformation programs.
According to the Global Trade Magazine, restrictions on movement, office closures and supply interruptions are all helping drive this trend. Media house IOTNow reports that digital transformation trends have been accelerated by 5.3 years, while Statista predicts global digital transformation spending will nearly double between 2020 and 2023.
2: Move Toward Contactless Solutions
According to Deloitte, there's been a switch to digital technologies that reduce the need for face-to-face contact. This digital transformation trend particularly affects customer-facing activities such as grocery and clothing shopping. It has seen increased demand for video conferencing facilities as well as increased interest in B2B ecommerce services.
3: Businesses Are Switching to Virtual Interaction
To cope with lockdown restrictions, many companies asked employees to work from home. At the height of the lockdown, almost 42 percent of the U.S. workforce were working full-time from their homes. At the same time, only 26 percent (essential workers) were at work. It seems likely this digital transformation trend will continue through 2021.
To overcome problems caused by a lack of personal interaction, companies will expand and refine video conferencing capabilities. Also, there will be increased emphasis on internal messaging and social media capabilities.
4: Accelerated Digital Communication Network Upgrades
As demand for digital services increases, this accelerates the expansion of 5G cellular services capable of meeting the demand for high-speed, high-volume data communication. A similar digital transformation trend is the long-awaited introduction of Wi-Fi 6 that will up download speeds by a factor of three.
5: Investment in Scenario Planning
One thing that's certain is the world after COVID will be different. But, no one really knows exactly how this will affect the economy in 2021.
This has highlighted the need for post-COVID scenario planning software, allowing organizations to develop alternative scenarios to cater for an uncertain future. Although scenario planning, on its own can't predict the future, it allows companies to anticipate different post-COVID outcomes.
6: Greater Focus on Omnichannel Retailing
In early 2020, we predicted omnichannel retailing will become the norm. Subsequent events indicate that, by 2021, omnichannel retailing will be an essential factor for success. The benefit of an omnichannel supply chain is that it treats online and brick-and-mortar stores as part of the same whole. This is a key digital transformation trend that breaks down internal barriers and silos, offering unprecedented visibility across the platform.
7: Upsurge in Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics
One of the unique factors noted during the COVID epidemic was the way scientists were able to predict the growth in infections and to determine the peak to an extent. Hospitals used predictive technologies to anticipate the location and timing of localized COVID surges with a remarkable degree of accuracy.
As good as predictive analytics are, they cannot determine the most effective response to a trend, given a multitude of variables, constraints, and unique goals within a business. Fortunately, prescriptive analytics (constraint-based optimization) can.
Prescriptive analytics allows business leaders to determine optimal decisions to deal with disruptive trends. The accelerated growth in predictive and prescriptive analytics represents key digital transformation trends for success in 2021.
8: Greater Investment Cloud Technologies
Another crucial digital transformation trend for 2021 has been the renewed interest in the cloud. Freeing organizations from legacy applications, cloud computing allows world-wide access and is vital to facilitating remote employment. The cloud offers unparalleled agility and scalability, allowing organizations to respond quickly to new opportunities and challenges.
Contributed by: Tim Blake, Business Modelling Associates (BMA). BMA is the official distributor for River Logic’s Enterprise Optimizer® platform across Africa