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Digital transformation: Our predictions for 2021 and beyond

What will the future hold when it comes to digital transformation? We don’t have a Magic-8 ball or special spidey sense, but our team does anticipate sizeable change. We asked a few of our team members what they thought based on their work and personal experiences. Here’s what they’re envisioning for 2021 and beyond.

The cloud gains more ground

I expect cloud-based business application platforms such as Dynamics 365, Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Workday to drive significant digital transformation within modern workplaces in the next year.

Following on the heels of many core infrastructure services moving to the cloud — such as email, servers, files, and data — the next major lift for many organizations will be to modernize and automate their core business processes. I anticipate areas like finance, HR, production, and other critical business operations and workflows will be the next major shift to using cloud-based business application platforms.

Moving away from legacy, on-premise solutions is not always a simple task, but in doing so, employees can then work remotely without being tethered to an office environment.

Greg Deckler, Vice President, Cloud Services
Connect with Greg on LinkedIn 

Remote workers collaborate differently

The work-from-anywhere model has been proven to work and it will continue. However, right now, a Zoom meeting is about the extent of what most people see as remote teamwork — and we all know those can be exhausting. I predict greater adoption of tools like Miro and Mural. These online workspaces allow for active collaborating and co-creating in real time.

The need to move quickly and keep pace with digital transformation will require these types of tools, and those who know how to leverage them, to make the most of a remote team’s time together.

Doug Scamahorn, Solution Director, UX Design & Innovation
Connect with Doug on LinkedIn 

Cookie compensation

I think 2021 will be the year when businesses and marketers confront the pending deprecation of the third-party cookie. Google is driving the industry towards new solutions for retargeting and attribution following the announcement that Chrome will cease to support third-party cookies in 2022. While industry players debate over a long-term replacement, expect to see a scramble to shore up first-party data in the meantime.

At a tactical level, this will look like increased pushes for “registered” online experiences where users must explicitly identify themselves, as well as the integrations that power these points of data collection. In the background, businesses will be pushing to connect the dots between online and offline touchpoints using a variety of identifiers, from email to devices to data from “walled gardens” like Amazon, Facebook, and even Walmart and Target.

Companies may opt for a CDP (consumer data platform) solution on top of their existing data stack to manage data points specifically for targeted marketing campaigns. When reporting on campaign success and attribution, analysts may need to adopt new tools and strategies for managing “fuzzier” readouts on customer behavior and journey identification.

Amy Brown, Solutions Director
Connect with Amy on LinkedIn 

Augmented reality becomes actual reality

As mobile processing and bandwidth progresses and matures, we can expect more augmented reality (AR) apps to provide visual assistance in a huge range of applications. I fully expect we will see vehicles with heads-up displays, smart glasses (remember Google Glass?), and other clear displays to be adopted by more companies and thus, individuals. Visual processing in itself is gaining in popularity. Retailers like IKEA are already using AR with their IKEA Place app to enable customers to “see” furniture in their spaces. Microsoft’s recent HoloLens release is a good example of where we’re headed.  

Jeremy Keiper, Competency Lead
Connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn

B2B marketers will get more creative

There’s always been an understanding that marketing is both an art and a science. Over the last decade, marketers have leaned into the science. Data provided marketers with information about customer behavior that was never available before.

Even before the pandemic, B2B marketers were relying heavily on digital channels to engage customers. But pandemic office closures caused marketers to rely on channels like email, webinars, social media, and search engine marketing (SEM), in an attempt to reach prospective buyers who were now working from home. And they had to get creative.

Marketers had to be willing to test new ideas and try things that haven’t been “proven,” and to think creatively about how we connect with and engage prospects and customers. I anticipate this to continue, and marketers will use customer data to make sure they understand consumer goals and motivations, then get creative about how to reach out and connect.

Kristin Raikes, Sr. Director of Digital Strategy
Connect with Kristin on LinkedIn

Looking ahead

Thinking about the year ahead, we do know that even after offices reopen and things get back to “normal,” the new “normal” will look different than it did before. If people continue to work from home or prefer to engage with brands virtually versus physically, then technology will have to adapt.

Are there any major trends not listed above that you think will be a key to digital transformation for this year?

If you have questions about specific trends, you can also connect with our team via their LinkedIn profiles above. Our consultants and team members work with clients to improve, streamline, and create actionable change. We create exceptional customer experiences by leveraging data insights, experience design, and technology to transform the way you connect with your customers. Interested in learning more? Let us know, or sign up for our newsletter to get to know us.

About the author

New Era Technology

New Era Technology creates powerful digital, data, and technology solutions that keep companies moving forward in a rapidly changing world. Our 500+ consultants use data insights, experience design, and tech innovation to help you reimagine your business for whatever comes next.

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