What did we learn from 2020 and where is 2021 heading?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways with its lasting effects now considered as the 'new normal'. But what does this really mean for businesses and what did we learn in 2020 and act on, that we’re continuing through into 2021 and beyond?
Business Model Innovation
As businesses rapidly tried to respond and adapt under extraordinary circumstances, 2020 saw lots of industries being completely transformed, with the accelerated change being the make or break for many, such as the hospitality and events industry. Businesses that reacted quickly and made operational changes, or ‘pivot’ as it is now commonly referred to, such as restaurants that provided take-out and manufacturing companies that switched to producing ventilators, in order to survive, continue to thrive as they enter 2021.
Although businesses have always had to plan and react to the market's shifting and understand what transformational change is needed, it is imperative in 2021 to review and innovate your business model. Exploring fresh ways of working and reconfiguring operations is key this year for driving greater productivity and safeguarding workers.
Digitisation and Automation
The pandemic sparked a surge in technology deployment across the economy and the acceleration of remote working, which continues on into 2021 and is increasingly becoming sustained. As organisations accelerate faster than they thought possible on things like building supply-chain redundancies, improving data security, and increasing the use of advanced technologies in operations, one area that saw tremendous growth in 2020 and is not slowing down anytime soon is digitisation.
With everything from online customer support and remote frontline workers, through to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve business processes, it's automation that is being hailed as the ‘champion of tech’ for 2021 and will continue to play a key role in those looking to accelerate their digitalisation plans forwards this year.
Data as an Asset
Over the last few years, the harvesting and integration of data has grown massively and in 2020 knowing what employees and customers needed and knowing it immediately, meant that gathering and using available data became essential. This year the focus will be on data quality, the speed of its availability, in order for them to make better-informed decisions by using these invaluable insights so they can quickly adapt to changing customers' needs almost instantly. Businesses that truly understand how to leverage their data to support and improve decision-making, will clearly be the ones outperforming everyone else in 2021.
With the vaccination now being rolled out across the UK, we all hope the COVID-19 crisis is getting under control and the 'new normal' will just be once again referred to as 'normal'. 2021 is going to be the year of transition, where we can all start to look forward to shaping our futures rather than just grinding through the present.