CIOs and CMOs will play key role in business transformation in 2021


tech 2021

A few weeks left for the fateful 2020 to bid adieu, forecasts about what 2021 has in offing are on the fly. Doubtlessly, 2021 will be marked as a year of digital tech prevalence, a trend necessitated by the COVID 19 crisis.

Forrester Research in its Business Trends 2021 says, “2021 will be the year that every company — not just the 15 percent of firms that were already digitally savvy — doubles down on technology-fueled experiences, operations, products, and ecosystems.”

As a result, businesses are likely to step up technology investments; but at the same time, the harsh economic conditions will continue forcing these firms to cut short on the budget.

Thus there are two major likelihoods that CIOs will resort to in 2021. Firstly, they will try to take advantage of the technology that they already have. Secondly, they will prefer technology that is cheaper and affordable, for example, Cloud or as-a-Service model, to the custom ones.

Forrester predicts that US tech investment will fall 1.5 percent in 2021 after years of accelerating tech spend — a $135 billion drop from 2019’s spending peak.

Commenting on the most popular technology trends that will define the technology business landscape in the coming year, Forrester said Cloud, Security, Networking and Mobility are the top four segments that will dominate the IT tech investments. They will act as the four pillars of the business in times of pandemic and to support the needs of the evolving work patterns.

Another trend defining 2021 will be the changing role of CMOs, who, in difficult times, usually evolve themselves to be the “driver of customer obsession at their firms, or they will cede that role to a chief customer or experience officer.”

As a result CMOs will put the customer at the center of everything they do: leadership, strategy, and operations. As a result, spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30 percent while spend in other areas slows.

With more and more employees resorting to work-from-home pattern, there is a sharp rise in the number of remote workers. Forrester predicts that remote work will rise to 300 percent of pre-COVID 19 levels.  Eventually, as they develop the skills for remote work, they will expect work-from-anywhere tech and culture, triggering a new norm in talent acquisition.

Another trend shaping up due to the pandemic-induced work patterns is the regulatory measures related to employee privacy infringements. Forrester notes that the pandemic is igniting employers’ desire to collect, analyze, and share employee personal data, and so there is a need to curb the wrong practices in data sharing.

While European regulators are already enforcing privacy rules to protect employees’ personal data, countries such as Brazil, India, and Thailand are preparing the same. Interestingly in the US, given the corporate practices and policies that often limit or deny employees a right to privacy, the battle to determine what is a reasonable expectation of workplace privacy will be fought in the courts.

Zero Trust secure access is gaining popularity across the world; but in Asia Pacific countries, it has not been at the competitive level so far. Now, with the acceleration of cloud platforms and the popularity of remote working, as well as changing regulations and consumer behaviors, the scenario is likely to change. Forrester predicts that at least one government in Asia Pacific will embrace a Zero Trust cybersecurity framework in 2021.

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