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Eight key ways business needs will transform in 2021

digital transformation
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy)

Last year was a year of tremendous, tumultuous change. Businesses discovered that they would need to prepare for myriad challenges and unknowns, with many suffering consequences during an unprecedented pandemic and extraordinarily challenging economic downturn.

Now, we’ve turned a page in our collective history, although many of the challenges from last year persist. This year, businesses will have new needs and must adapt accordingly, using resources such as software development firms like BairesDev, consultants, and more. Here are some of the key ways for you to do just that.

1. Efforts will be focused on virtual and digital products and spaces

The world has become increasingly digital over the past decade. Last year, however, it took on a whole new meaning. Since the beginning of the pandemic, digital has become the primary method of delivering services and products for most businesses. For example, people are more likely to order groceries and clothing online than they were pre-pandemic. They’re also learning and finding entertainment predominantly from home.

For businesses, this means shifting their model to accommodate the digital demand. They will need to restructure their strategy to prioritize services and products that can be delivered online and reduce those that they previously offered exclusively or predominantly in-person, depending, of course, on the nature of the business. The businesses that can make this switch will more than likely come out ahead of those that can’t.

2. It will be imperative to accommodate remote workers

Before the pandemic, remote work was growing steadily yet somewhat slowly. That all changed dramatically last year. And wow that so many businesses have seen that remote work can, well, work, it’s set to become the norm in 2021. This means employers must make changes to ensure that their employees are well equipped with the necessary technology and skills to complete their responsibilities from home.

In most cases, that will probably mean providing employees with essential tools to do their jobs remotely — software, programs, technological support, and so on. Videoconferencing will remain a useful and primary way of communicating with colleagues, while instances of in-person meetings will be fewer and farther between.

3. Certain skills will become paramount

Adjusting to the new landscape will require workers to upskill. Many job responsibilities across a wide variety of industries can be automated now, so people will need to acquire new competencies to remain relevant in a struggling economy and hold onto their jobs.

For example, given that there is now technology that can scan resumes and identify potential fits in the hiring process, human resources specialists will need to demonstrate skills that can’t be replaced by a machine to succeed in the workforce. Some skills will be necessary across industries, like time-management and collaboration. Others will be industry-specific. In the HR example, this might mean learning how to deploy this type of technology.

4. New partnerships will emerge

Given the extraordinary changes that are taking place in terms of business models, methods of delivery, and the very nature of the products and services themselves, businesses will have to overhaul many aspects of their organizations. In order to accommodate these changes, many organizations will seek out partnerships with highly-skilled, external partners — both individuals and businesses — to help them adapt.

For example, a business looking to improve its digital services and develop an app to sell its products might partner with an outside software development company that has experience with this type of product.

5. Redundancies will be eliminated

Redundancies have always caused issues for businesses, but given the state of the economy, we’ll likely see more and more employers consolidating and eliminating extraneous positions during 2021. Moreover, workers who can be replaced by technology likely will be.

This will be alarming for some workers, but there’s still room for them to carve out a niche, even if their current positions aren’t needed — as per #3, they’ll need to consider upskilling and redefining their roles to find a place in this landscape.

6. Events and conferences will be reenvisioned

In-person events and conferences may resume at some point, but now that many organizations have experience conducting virtual versions, this could present a less costly, viable alternative. Businesses, associations, and others will find new ways of connecting, communicating, and presenting without leaving their homes, opening the door to numerous possibilities for events of the future.

7. Data will back decisions

Businesses can’t afford to make decisions that aren’t supported by data. Cloud computing software and other innovations have meant that we have an abundance of information at our fingertips, and organizations can use it to evaluate the success of their initiatives and the needs and wants of their target audience and better plan ahead for the future.

Using the information they have at their disposal — social media analytics, website traffic, advertising click-through rates (CTR), and so on — they are now able to make informed choices about the future of their companies. This data can also help businesses ensure that they’re implementing security measures.

8. The motto will be “health and safety first”

Last year was largely defined by the Covid-19 pandemic. And it’s not over yet. With two vaccines slowly circulating among essential workers, it — hopefully — won’t be long before they reach the general public. Above all else, businesses will need to protect their employees and consumers.

Some will consider making a vaccine mandatory, while others might reconfigure their workplaces to allow some or all employees to work remotely or change the physical layout to protect people. Businesses will also need to ensure that employees are readily able to access information through an intranet or employee portal, offering updates on protocol and delivering advisories.

2021 will introduce challenges to the workplace, some that have carried over from the past year and others that will be entirely new. And with these challenges will come changing needs and demands. Adapting to a different landscape will be paramount to businesses’ survival in what promises to be a year unlike any we’ve seen.

Malcom Ridgers, tech expert, BairesDev