Daypesh Patel

The ‘Next Normal’ – 3 Trends That Will Continue to Shape Tech Innovation in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has put technology innovation and agility at the centre of the business strategy, becoming essential to the resilience and recovery of the enterprise. As we consider the next normal, we see organisations in 2021 focusing on building on the foundations of all the innovative steps taken to navigate the disruption, propelling digital transformation and business agility.  According to IDC, despite the global pandemic, direct digital transformation (DX) investment is still growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5% from 2020 to 2023. It is expected to approach $6.8 trillion as companies build on existing strategies and investments, becoming digital-at-scale future enterprises. 

The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for a whole multitude of changes that were already underway. In this unprecedented year, technology has become a radical driver of growth, with business model disruption being entirely technology-led.  

As we enter an economic recovery period, COVID-19 will continue to shape business strategies in 2021. In this article, we analysed the three trends that will continue to shape innovation and the way we work in the next normal. 

Business Process Automation

Digital transformation is a priority for CEOs and IT leaders. Digital transformation plans require that organisation modernise enterprise systems and architecture, migrate to the cloud and optimise and automate business processes and workflows. 

Automation Software Technology Process System Business concept

MuleSoft research found that 30% of IT decision-makers say that automation is a key business initiative tied to digital transformation.

Gartner also included in their Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021, hyperautomation defined as ‘the idea that anything that can be automated in an organisation should be automated. Hyperautomation is driven by organisations having legacy business processes that are not streamlined, creating immensely expensive and extensive issues for organisations.’ The Gartner report also notes that ‘many organisations are supported by a “patchwork” of technologies that are not lean, optimised, connected, clean or explicit. At the same time, the acceleration of digital business requires efficiency, speed and democratisation. Organisations that don’t focus on efficiency, efficacy and business agility will be left behind.’

COVID-19 has accelerated organisation’s plans of automating back-office processes for the sake of business resilience, replacing manual processes looking to eliminate paper processes and spreadsheets to improve productivity.  Companies that can automate routine tasks can free up time for other work that adds more value. The PwC Finance Benchmarking Report 2019-20 showed that automation is also top mind for CFOs with 40% of the time in the finance function could be reduced with automation.

Most organisation will need to continue having a hybrid workplace model so more use cases for business process optimisation and automation will appear. Forrester predicts that by the end of 2021, one out of every four remote workers will be supported by new forms of automation, with indirect support blossoming, as robotic process automation (RPA) bots will handle business tasks often invisible to the home worker. In 2021, more than 60% of B2B sellers will be enabled by AI and automation.

Cloud Adoption

The impact that the global pandemic had on the workplace and workforce has strengthened the value of cloud computing and spiked its demand. Without cloud applications, organisation could not have shifted operations and business models so quickly. 

business and digital technology

The IDC report FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2021 Predictions stresses that IT leaders need to push the transition into the cloud to remain competitive and make the organisation digitally sustainable: ‘By the end of 2021, based on lessons learned, 80% of enterprises will put a mechanism in place to shift to cloud-centric infrastructure and applications twice as fast as before the pandemic.’ 

The cloud trend is also confirmed by Forrester that points out that companies had to prioritise speed and customer experience over cost savings, so they turned to public cloud services faster than ever. They predict that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021.

Hybrid Workplace and Work from Anywhere

Although in many organisations’ workforces are dispersed right now, this will not be the case forever. Despite some bumps on the road to shift employees quickly to remote work, many organisations have discovered that they are not only capable of operating remotely but also had seen many of its advantages, like the elimination of meetings and inefficiencies. ‘There are a few things like business trips that I doubt will ever go back,’ said Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder. Business trips will become less common and replaced by video calls. A shift that will lead to offices being redesigned to accommodate new meeting needs.  The fact is that remote work isn’t going anywhere, and while many employees prefer never having to step into the office, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

People in the office social distancing and wearing masks.

In June, PwC survey conducted a survey where 72% of office workers expressed that they would like to work remotely at least two days per week. Similarly, a Boston Consulting Group survey found that a majority of responders report greater productivity on both individual and group tasks during the pandemic. The survey also revealed a significant shift in employee expectations for the future of work, with a keen appetite for flexible ways of working. 

The pandemic has changed how people work and interact with the organisation. People are still central to the business and they will need business processes in place that enable more flexibility and digitalisation to function in the next normal environment. In the same report discussed above, IDC predicts that 75% of Global 2000 companies will provide have technical parity by 2023 and that the workforce will be created and developed to accommodate a hybrid structure, enabling the workforce to be more productive, informed and collaborative. 

Planning for 2021 and Beyond

After an unprecedented 2020, planning for 2021 seems like an impossible challenge, but what this year has shown is that those organisations that embrace innovation, agility and a culture of continuous improvement will be able to adapt faster to change and be more resilient.

The team at VIP Apps Consulting has the experience to help your organisation anticipate change and navigate the next normal. Our culture, talent and unique methodologies can aid your business in developing the integrated strategy and agile governance needed to maximise success. 

Let VIP Apps Consulting help you focus your digital transformation journey. Value. Innovation. Process. It’s what we do.

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