How 2021 will (could) look like

A prognosis for 2021 in a world where prediction doesn't exist anymore.

I traditionally communicate on how I foresee the upcoming year. Having a look at my post one year ago, I must say I was not so wrong. My predictions were in the following fields: Integration of technology and human thinking, Privacy & Ethics, The Power of Qual & Emotions and Transparency.

But something which was unpredictable has shaken and is still been quaking our world: the Covid-19. This pandemic has broken our interactions, our hopes, our business, and in a deeper way, it has transformed our behaviours, our believes and our ability of projection.

Therefore, as prediction should be banished from our thoughts and words, I will share how I foresee 2021 as well as some tips based on my day-to-day experience and expertise.

  • Short-term Plans & Long-term Vision

The last decade and the pandemic have forced us to avoid mid or long-term action plans. In this changing world it is impossible to plan even our holidays or our long week-end! This doesn't mean that we should stop doing or stop planning - we really need actions! - but we should, as people and organizations, adopt an agile and a very reactive attitude. Some companies from various industries have adapted very quickly to the new situation to meet these conditions.

However, a long-term vision is more than ever needed. It is time for brands to think or to re-think their DNA, their Raison d'Etre. A DNA is specific and unique to a brand or to an organization. It can't be removed nor changed. The DNA is the brand foundation, its roots to build strong tree branches for future blooming.

Performing and winning companies will be those which manage to reach the perfect balance between long-term vision and very short and agile action plans.

  • Investment, Acquisitions & Growth

In 2020, the pandemic and the economic crisis have lead to a massive stop in investment due to uncertainty. As insecurity is the guiding principle of our world, many investors have positioned their portfolio defensively, adopting greater investment discipline. Simultaneously, we have seen an historic development in technology and in data-enabled tools which should lead to a new wave of acquisitions and equity investment in our Insight & Data Industry (initiated before the crisis), and into information system.

The APAC region has been drastic in its management of the sanitary crisis. This region is recovering faster, showing better economic results than Europe or the Americas, and should play a leading role in the coming months and years.

  • Behaviours Shift

The pandemic has brought new behaviours and has definitively been an accelerator of some trends which were already there. Physical and social distancing have been the most emblematic and disruptive phenomenon with impacts in many sectors: health & hygiene, transports, media, culture, gaming, tourism, etc,.. and more deeply on our relationship to consumption, work, and beyond, on citizenship and democracy. This will lead (and is currently leading) to fully rethink why and how we purchase, we work, we project and experience our roles of citizens.

Therefore major changes in retail with more hybridization between digital and on-site experience, the development of local food consumption, the evolution of office property, workspace, management and recruitment practices, a new way of designing and living in our cities and our homes with more safety, well-being and entertainment, will be initiated in 2021 or will continue in this direction.

Our Data & Analytics will obviously benefit from this: we have the knowledge and expertise, we know how people behave, so let's showcase our value for better understanding and decision making!

  • Ethics, Privacy & Transparency

Privacy and Ethics are core issues and will keep being at the forefront of 2021 and beyond. The development of Data and its use by brands and organizations, the explosion of communication and medias, have brought a paradoxical situation: the raise of mistrust, violence and insecurity in a world of massive information supposed to serve access, transparency and to benefit to every single person.

Brands, business organizations, NGOs and governments have a huge role to play in this field, creating or reinforcing regulations to protect their consumers and citizens, bringing trust and confidence back, to preserve freedom and to be truly ethical.

  • Integration of Technology & Human Expertise

This theme was one of my 2020 (and beyond) prediction. No need to be visionary to say that Technology and enabled-data tools will be everywhere in our lives... and jobs! These times of pandemic have seen a growing development in technology with many initiatives in our Data & Analytics: new AI capabilities like voice and video-enabled tools, community management apps or plugins, automation, data visualization, ...for instant and more meaningful decision making.

Human thinking and human expertise still have power in this context. We can't keep opposing them, we should have a (better) integration of Technology and Human capabilities to drive our businesses and to anticipate our future.

I wish you a vibrant and exciting year 2021!

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