Thinkers360 2021 Predictions are member-sourced from our opt-in B2B thought leader and influencer community with 25M+ followers on social media combined. The 2021 Predictions for Digital Transformation are part of a series to provide actionable insights for business and technology executives.
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We asked a selection of our Thinkers360 global thought leaders and influencers about their predictions for the digital transformation in 2021. Here’s what they told us…
What are your predictions for digital transformation in 2021?
If 2020 is any indication, the acceleration of digitizing the business isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Modernizing the technology to be more ‘digital’ is one piece of the equation – but the one I think is even more important is the transformation of people and processes. Using technology to automate existing processes, with existing organizational structures and business models limits what is truly possible with all the technology advancement. 2021 will be the time when companies large and small rethink how they can bring people + technology together to improve employee and customer experience in meaningful ways.
– Tiffani Bova, Global Growth Evangelist, Salesforce; WSJ Bestselling Author, Growth IQ
A new dose of reality for digital transformation in 2021 Covid-19 has undeniably accelerated digital transformation and we’ve seen the most digitally-mature organizations faring better through the crisis. But digital transformation in 2021 will not be easier. What we’ve experienced in 2020 is a step-change in user adoption of digital collaboration and productivity tools as well as changes in consumer online purchasing habits. These are all very positive, but only elements of a more complex system. In 2021, organizations have a unique opportunity to bring the “future of work” forward and radically redesign work, workforces and workplaces. Automation will accelerate to make operations more resilient. And the digital part of the customer experience will be even more prominent. But it will still require hard work. Organizations that solely focus on cost containment, at the expense of innovating and advancing their digital transformation will fall further behind.
– Didier Bonnet, IMD Business School
In this unprecedented times, more than ever, successful digital transformations [will] require cultures that encourage people to make room for what seems uncontrollable, inconsistent, imprecise, unpredictable, challenging the everlasting need for control, consistency, accuracy and predictability that continuously leads us to strongly believe that all we think impossible really is.
– Hamilton Mann, Group Director, Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation at Thales
Digital Transformation is a paradigm shift pushing companies to inject more and more technology inside their processes. The COVID-19 accelerated its pace in 2020, and the forecasts for next year give hope for an even greater adoption of disruptive factors in the business ecosystem. IMHO, companies will increasingly leverage automation, edge computing, and connectivity in order to be future-ready. From this perspective, executives need to lead effective business transformation projects by harnessing digitalization to thrive in an innovative world.
– Linda Grasso, Chief Operating Officer at Digital Business Innovation srl
In 2021 I expect a wave of realism to come over companies and a corresponding reduction in big transformation programmes. To ensure good outcomes companies need to apply agile methods to transformation design, which is exactly why Fin Goulding and I wrote Transformation Sprint. Taking an agile approach means scaling transformations back to a manageable level where new ways of work can more easily be deployed and then scaling up only when the right experiences have been learned. That way the early part of a transformation becomes a learning mechanism and a design opportunity. Scale down to skill up with a transformation sprint. We will see that become the default method.
– Haydn Shaughnessy, Co-Founder at Flow Academy
Implement your digital transformation NOW
I predict that many more companies are going to realize that they are sitting on gold with the data they own and will start implementing digital transformation throughout their operation. With the current pandemic, businesses need to evolve to ensure employees, customers, shareholders and suppliers continue to communicate and help business to grow. Digital transformation is not only about using digital tools, it is about change management and finding a more efficient way to do business in the current economic climate.
– Nicolas Babin, President at Babin Business Consulting
Digital Transformation is being shown as the Kings New Clothes
Much of the Transformation work for the last 15 years is not fit for purpose as the starting point has been the selling and buying of technology stacks rather than defining the feature sets required and using them to define the technologies. Mainframe development programmes have been focused on creating limited API’s to create micro services instead dismantling proprietary technology and creating open architectures. Finally technical debt is coming home to roost and must be resolved.
– Karl A Smith, Consulting Director Business Agility and Digital Transformation at Paradigm Interactions Inc.
2021 is a year for innovation and business reinvention. For many organizations, they will finally be making sense of the words “digital transformation”. However, businesses need to focus on implementing 360° transformation and not just responding to challenges, which could be a temporary fix.
– M. Nadia Vincent, MBA, Digital Transformation Leaders
in 2021, digital transformation will be already adopted by millions of organizations of all sizes and sectors. Some will be leveraging on AI, IoT, or both experiences to create easy to embrace experiences. Those lagging will play the game of catching up with a considerable disadvantage. Companies that will thrive during and after pandemic will be those that are simplifying their human experiences and taking the responsibility right now over customers and employees’ safety ‘’ digitally and physically speaking’’, as I write. Well-designed products and services, well simplified and thoughtful customer and employee experience will continue to generate adoption, retention, and revenue growth. For those that opt not to simplify will fade behind the curve. Bear in mind that digital experiences are already leading the wave to make our lives easier and simpler. All your organizations run on adoption and great experiences.
– Ricardo Saltz Gulko, Managing Director at Eglobalis – Information – Insight – Innovation – Human Experience Boutique Agency
Without the proper strategic support for data management, I predict your 2021 Digital Transformation effort will fail! The purpose of every Digital Transformation effort is to deliver value to your relationships through your brands at scale. Scale takes technology. Technology requires data. Data requires data management. The success of a Digital Transformation initiative is inextricably linked to the successful output of a data management program. You cannot do one without the other. And that will never change.
– Scott Taylor, The Data Whisperer, Principal at MetaMeta Consulting and author of Telling Your Data Story: Data Storytelling for Data Management (out this winter)
Among its many tough lessons, COVID-19 taught us to expect the unexpected. For organizations, that demands digital transformation. It’s the only way to ensure agility, speed, and responsiveness — all of which add up to business resiliency, no matter how adverse the situation. That can mean a sudden market disruption or opportunity, or it can mean your entire workforce going remote, seemingly overnight. In the darkest months of the pandemic, the most digitally mature organizations fared the best. Others struggled. But everyone is learning. In 2021, even companies with tight budgets will prioritize their infrastructures, security, and collaboration platforms. Today, there’s simply no other way to stay competitive.
– Kevin Delaney, Senior Writer and Podcast Producer, Cisco
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