5 Bold Predictions For 2021
It seems about that time of year that I should be offering up my Top 5 Predictions for 2021.
WARNING: I will unashamedly delete this blog around June if they don't look like coming true, or will smugly and mercilessly reshare at year-end if they did.
1. Low Code Will Explode
Full handover to citizen developers? No. But I believe you'll see more and more vendors popping up in this space and creating microservices/apps/solutions using low code. Put simply, the speed at which you are able to put entire applications together using low-code is staggering and turns a dark art into something more accessible by the business. The key is to ensure IT don't try to strangle the process to maintain control.
2. The RPA bubble will burst
This is the boldest prediction, undoubtedly.
In short, too much investment has been thrown at this space and valuations are sky high. Yet vendors are struggling to be profitable at prices that, frankly, are going to be decimated in the years ahead as Microsoft and the like turn automation into an Office-like offering.
So here's the bold bit - I think one of the big three will withdraw (or at least dramatically downsize) their UK operations. In turn that will create a domino effect of investors questioning the level of investment they've put into the space and valuations will plummet.
It's a market on a knife-edge, but the key could be a move from stand-alone solutions to a more OEM'd approach to automation, built into and configurable within existing IT architecture.
3. Companies who prioritise inbound marketing will win
If you still spend all your marketing on outbound, you're doing it wrong. Outbound during COVID has been woeful and those focussed on inbound have been tearing chunks off the competition. Blogging, SEO, webinars, podcasts and content creation are delivering huge returns whilst traditional outbound methods are proving saturated and falling on deaf ears.
I guess that's not really a prediction, so I'll add to it that I think the days of big, expensive conferences are numbered. If the penny hasn't already dropped, conferences themselves are actually pretty dull and devoid of value. We blogged on that HERE. The real value comes from the opportunity to network and socialise with our peers. The first event organiser who concedes that point and doubles down on creating events that embrace that fact will win big.
4. Working from home won't continue (like it is)
As a stop-gap, it's been fine. No more, no less.
Sure, it's opened many of our eyes to the damage to our lives that early mornings and long commutes have, but the reality is, it can't continue as it is. Workers are in one of two very clear groups, they either want to continue, or they're desperate to get back to an office. Many are (naively?) expecting that 2021 will see everybody give up their expensive office leases and switch to full home working, but that's very unlikely to be the case. We've seen too much collaboration and team-building lost as a result of homeworking, so whilst we may see more homeworking, it will not become the 5-day norm.
What also cannot continue is working from a kitchen table on a dining chair and a laptop. Add in shoddy mics, cameras and internet connections and it's been often (literally) painful. Chiropractors are going to make millions in 2021!
Equally, expect more tools to be released to (passively) keep an eye on your what you're actually accomplishing at home. Businesses are too data-driven to simply trust that staff are doing what they need to. Whilst they'll accept a certain level of trust out of necessity, expect that to change.
5. Conference calls will evolve
There is big money to be made for the first company who makes Zoom calls less draining. Whether it's algorithms to improve sound and picture quality or just simple UX that does away with the constant calls of "can you hear me?/Can you see my slides?/You're on mute", changes will happen. I think it'll be staged changes throughout the year, subtle even (don't anticipate full VR just yet!), but if you compare 2020 conference calls with 2021, I expect some noticeable improvements.
What are your predictions for 2021?