Top business trends for 2021

In 1911, a surgeon named Richard Clement Lucas predicted that by 2020, humans would lose their “useless outer toes" and become a one-toed race.

In his 2014 book, Shift 2020, technology industry expert Michael J. O'Farrell wrote that telepathy and teleportation would begin to be commonplace in 2020.

And in 1994, the RAND Corporation, a global think tank that's contributed to the U.S. space program and development of the internet, said we would have animal employees by 2020, including apes working as chauffeurs.

As far-fetched as some predictions can be, it seems we’re hardwired to know what’s ahead, probable or not. And that’s probably why so many blogs in January include a list of what we can expect in the coming months.

This is another one.

Here are some trends experts are predicting for business in 2021.

Artificial intelligence.

While many think AI and machine learning are used mostly by big businesses, smaller organizations will increasingly adopt these technologies in the months ahead. Saving time and providing more personalized (and therefore better) experiences to customers are important to all sizes of businesses. And with so many being thrust into discovering new ways of doing things thanks to the pandemic, businesses will likely be more receptive to embrace new technologies, like chatbots that can answer customers’ questions 24/7 or AI that can take over many manual and more time-consuming processes.

Social media marketing.

Social media as part of a company’s marketing plan is not new, but it’s expected that more businesses will focus on using social media for two-way communication with their customers. Instead of using social media platforms to simply provide news or information, business will interact and engage – listening to customers to better serve them.

Embracing the cloud .

As the global pandemic forced businesses to send workers home to work remotely, those who hadn’t yet adopted cloud-native technologies were left wondering how they would keep employees connected and data accessible. Like with other technologies, many businesses got a crash course in moving their processes into the cloud. The new year will bring further adoption of and expansion into the cloud as businesses discover how this technology can make them more collaborative and efficient.

More content marketing.

Content marketing is an affordable and authentic way to connect with your audience and customers without appearing that you’re just trying to sell to them. A number of businesses (this one included) already post blogs with (hopefully) helpful information. Given the more virtual way businesses have had to connect with their customers in 2020, more companies may recognize that content marketing is a fairly simple way to build trust and give customers a reason to return to their website.

Transparent television.

Ok, technically this is not specifically a trend for businesses in the year ahead, but transparent TVs was one of the coolest new technologies featured at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2021) in Las Vegas. The conference showed a video of the 55-inch OLED display rising from the foot of a bed; a movie appears on screen and you can see the furniture behind it. Maybe not what everyone’s looking for, especially at more than US$7,000, but its more practical applications for now are commercial -- in public spaces like shopping malls or art museums.

Of course, as the old saying goes, “it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future”. That said, who knows, maybe this year apes really will learn how to drive.


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