Digital product agencies have the unique opportunity to help clients deal with what’s in front of them today. However, we also have to look forward and plan for what’s coming. One of the biggest challenges of paying attention to tech trends is that the world is constantly changing. How do you keep up?
Here’s where we suggest you keep your focus. This is our list of the top 10 things you should be watching in 2021 to keep from becoming obsolete.
The future of work
2020 demonstrated the importance of the future of work. Digital transformation and hybrid work were accelerated in a very short timeframe. We were forced to deal with it, but the future of work is not done. It will continue to change. Some of us will be in an office, some will be remote. Your workforce will be distributed across the country, if not the world.
This change is happening at an ever-increasing rate. Teams will have to learn to adapt. Their skills are going to have to be updated regularly. What used to be a 5-year cycle became a 3-year cycle, and now is a 12-month cycle. People will be working at different companies and learning how to work effectively together in a networked fashion.
Blockchain, Crypto, NFT, and more
Blockchain was once a subculture of people that had little servers and cryptocurrency that they could use on the dark web. Today, it’s a major aspect of society. We’re going to start seeing financial institutions create access to cryptocurrencies in a way that we never thought about before.
This won’t just influence currency, but also security, legal systems, contracts, how we build relationships, and how we think about investment and value with NFTs, smart contracts, and finance.
The decentralization of everything
Your workforce is going to be decentralized. It’s only going to get harder to have people based in one location. Organizations are having to move their information and data to the Cloud. Even the Cloud is getting broader and more spread out across servers and continents.
Logistics channels are going to be decentralized as well. Companies like Amazon no longer have one big warehouse where everything is housed. Instead, they have thousands of warehouses that are constantly keeping inventory up. Today there are nearly 200 fulfillment centers.
All of this could be decentralized from one place to a network of places where we are accessing information, data, and products as needed.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence
While it’s not entirely new, you must pay attention to machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s moving from a large, obscure place regarding big data and machine learning down to micro-interactions that people experience on a day-to-day basis.
Software will create better ways to do just about anything. From gauging sentiment to finding better ways to check grammar. It will identify information for you rapidly so that you can look at something, and it will identify the necessary details without requiring someone to put in the data.
The digital transformation takeover
The digital transformations of 2019 and 2020 are now going to sweep through every organization on every corner of the globe. People will have to adopt new technology and tools, as well as think about their teams, people, processes, and approaches completely differently.
If you’re not willing and able to adapt, then you’ll probably be behind as the companies around you move forward more quickly. adapting to new roles, processes, and tools.
The DIY knowledge economy
Anyone who wants to be an influencer now can be. Everybody has a point of view, and they can profit off of it. And that reality is that this is not going away any time soon. Those with knowledge or perspective, and that speak up, can create value for themselves. All you need is a medium (maybe a camera or just an iPhone), an idea, and the confidence to put it out on the internet. There’s an emerging theme of decentralization, where knowledge, resources, and power are spread out.
Consultants and coaches will be brought into the boardroom to influence the way people think about their customers, how they interact with employees, and with their stakeholders.
The rise of the Chief Product Officer (CPO)
The new member at the table is the Chief Product Officer. A CPO is a blend between information, technology, product, human, and process. It blends brand interactions with the business. More and more organizations need a dedicated Chief Product Officer. Someone to own their technology and their customer software in a way that feels more like a tech startup.
Creativity is still a superpower
This was a movement 30 years ago, 10 years ago, and it’s a movement again today. Design thinking and design thinking principles are back in full swing. Creativity is the secret sauce that helps to unlock a person’s ability to adapt to an ever-changing world. If you’re not bringing in people to help you think creatively and to empower individuals at every level of the organization, to use creative principles you’re likely falling behind.
Not just UX, but the “total” experience
We’re beginning to see even more experiences that extend beyond UX and CX. This is known as the “total experience.” No longer is it enough that you’ve created a website for your customers or an e-commerce solution for your buyers.
If you’re not already, you need to be focused on making your experience better for every single person that interacts with your product. It’s also time to think more about the experiences of the organization, how it interfaces with the world, and how it is seen beyond even the influence that you think you have. The total experience is the hybrid of all of these things working in concert together.
Data, data, data
Software is eating the world. It’s about data in and data out, and data is key. What we do with it determines our success. Data isn’t just something that we collect, it has to be a meaningful tool that we use to change. If you’re not preparing yourself to look at your data carefully and make strategic decisions using creativity and insight, then likely you’re going to have a lot of catching up to do with the competitors.
This list just scratches the surface. What are you thinking about that isn’t about the crisis, the fire you have to put out to deal with today, but is focused on the future of the organization? The future of your impact in the world, and maybe your opportunity to make people’s lives better.