2020 can be dubbed the ‘Year of Digital Transformation’ as enterprises and organizations accelerated their digital journeys at unprecedented rates, thanks to COVID-19 and the resultant need to ensure business continuity in the face of uncertainties. And as we step into the new year, some of the lessons learned in 2020 will become the foundational layers on which enterprises can build their digital strategies, with seamless and exceptional customer experience at its core.
Mega enterprises across industries will prefer to build, manage, and evolve their own technology and use it as a major competitive differentiator. Digital platforms for critical workflows, AI-led business transformation, and digital products & services are the top areas for enterprise proprietary technology to emerge. Such enterprises will form transformational partnerships with large technology platform companies and will also compete with them to attract the best technology talent available in the market. These enterprises will also significantly expand their footprint in established and emerging global talent hotspots and leverage the global skills to accelerate experimentation and innovation.
Tech & operations will become inseparable and will create a flywheel effect as enterprises look to dramatically reduce costs, significantly elevate customer experience, and bring resiliency into the business. Process discovery, process digitization, tech-enabled process redesign, and intense automation will be at the core of the operations to tech cycle. This operations revolution will be led by the convergence of Data, Computing, AI & Zero Trust security, and will significantly transform the role of operations leaders across industries. Large enterprises will increasingly rely on technology-enabled ecosystems of SMB suppliers, start-ups, academia, and customers to accelerate enterprise-wide digitization.
Data privacy will take the center stage of any major enterprise’s technology investments well into 2021 and beyond. This, along with the regional regulatory requirements, will result in an explosion of in-country data centers in major global markets. Most developed countries have already created or will create policies to protect their citizens’ data by storing it locally. Enterprises will intend to expand their data center footprint (both 1st party and 3rd party) across major global hotspots, but will find it difficult to navigate the local policies, identify the right partnerships across the supply chain, and maintain highest level of service quality.
While knowledge workers increasingly subscribed to the idea of remote working in 2020, frontline workers struggled to keep up their productivity during the pandemic. Technologies such as Spatial Computing, Cloud, IOT, and AR/VR will witness rapid proliferation among enterprises to enable a new digital workplace model for frontline workers in 2021. Digital thread for product development, autonomous processes, digital learning, and virtual sales will see a disproportionate amount of investments from the enterprises during this period.
Most large enterprises mastered the art of virtual selling in 2020 and we expect this trend to continue in 2021 with many other smaller enterprises following suit. This digital-first approach in sales will mandate B2B enterprises to invest in end-to-end digitization of sales processes, tools across the sales lifecycle and massive training infrastructure. Large B2C companies will build their own Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) channels, focus on AI-enabled selling, and create newer experiences for customers using AR/VR and 5G technologies as part of this reset to the new normal.
Customer Experience (CX) will emerge as the single biggest KPI that B2B enterprises will track going forward. Every business function within the enterprise will rely heavily on CX metrics for strategic planning. The decision on every major investment that the enterprise makes, will use CX data as a key input variable. Enterprises will invest heavily on CX tools and onboard expert Customer Experience executives from top technology platforms and SaaS companies to scale this function in 2021.
While the year gone by brought with it a lot of unexpected lessons, the new year promises to be exciting in a multitude of ways from a technology adoption, implementation, transformation of business functions, and increased leverage of ecosystem perspective.