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Top 2021 trends: technology meets business

2020 was an extraordinary and unprecedented year where the entire planet was hit by a seemingly unstoppable virus.

Humanity moved to the digital sphere. Most of us worked remotely, our kids zoomed-schooled, we consumed all our entertainment digitally and bought essentials (and not-so-essentials) online. As workers, we were challenged to adapt to new ways of connecting, organizing and collaborating with fellow coworkers. Co-existing with partners, roommates, and children brought the work/ life balance debate to a whole new level. While businesses were also forced to deliver for this new reality.

As John Maeda (designer, technologist and author of the annual CX Report) expressed,

“Our attention has dropped to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the wish for safety, safety, safety.

Catering to this need for safety will require serious, robust and seamless products and services to build trust from the bottom up.

A year ago, the conversation centered on the opportunities for businesses pushing through the adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. However, the current “forced” shift to digital has been a wake-up call for businesses to accelerate digital transformation and build innovative and flexible organizations to face Covid-19 scenarios. Over the past 12 months, some companies rose to the occasion by adapting their business models to succeed while others, slower to react, failed or struggled to catch up.

As we put a close to 2020 and place our hopes on the year to come, what will be the most relevant technology and business innovation trends? How can creativity help in crafting a fairer, more inclusive world?

Successful businesses are focusing on building not only profitable products but valuable and sustainable experiences for their customers. Organizations, big and small, will need to find ways to create this value in order to remain relevant. Adding a sense of purpose, building communities, and hosting shared experiences are all lofty goals but unattainable without the right kind of data. Capturing, analyzing, understanding and monetizing user behavior will be the top priority for businesses in 2021.

According to Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends, the Internet of Behavior (IoB), using data to change behaviors, is the number 1 trend for 2021. IoB will enable businesses to better interact with people achieving the flexibility necessary to adapt and come out winning in the current global economic state. Building better interactions means successfully combining customer experience, employee experience and user experience, improving the overall experience of all touchpoints to transform business outcomes.

Another major trend for next year will be the integration of AI as a fundamental part of business operations.

“A robust AI engineering strategy will facilitate the performance, scalability, interpretability and reliability of AI models while delivering the full value of AI investments.” (Gartner TSTT 2021)

AI projects often face issues with maintainability, scalability and governance, which makes them a challenge for most organizations. Moving AI from independent specialized projects and integrating it in the development process will help resolve issues of trust, compliance, efficacy and to adjust expectations to tame AI hype.

Along these lines, one of the top skills most in demand for data scientists and engineers for 2021 is business knowledge. Being able to communicate properly with corporate stakeholders and understanding business needs is of utmost importance for engineers and analysts looking to make an actionable and measurable impact with AI in real business scenarios. Having a comprehensive understanding of the business will help AI engineers propose the best ways to leverage data. Likewise, companies will better understand how data can maximize their efficiency, lower costs and reveal new opportunities for value creation.

To close this loop, the human touch will be just as important as the technological effort businesses need to put into their offerings. Substituting “real” world experiences will require quite a lot of creativity to make online journeys satisfying. The ability to ideate and produce new things, to identify opportunities, create joy and excitement, and to infuse sensibility into digital experiences all fall under the realm of Human Intelligence.

Merging creativity, business and technology means collaborating and learning from each other.

Pi School is the meeting place for this collaboration. A safe space for innovation to happen without fear of failure, to learn by doing, and to solve the biggest challenges of today and tomorrow.

Cited sources:

Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021

7 In-Demand Technical Skills for Data Scientists in 2021

Fjord Trends 2021

John Maeda

Is your company ready for AI?


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