3 Economic Factors Driving 2021 Digital Strategies

We are all excited to head into a new year. 2021 will bring new hope for individuals and families across the world, as well as bring new opportunities across communities, states, regions, and nations. With this positive global momentum, businesses will need to quickly pick up the pieces from 2020 and refresh their business strategies.

One key component to most business strategies will be the regeneration of a digital strategy. Our world has changed to a degree that many legacy technology roadmaps, and even some created only a few years ago, may now be obsolete.

Following are three key economic considerations your new digital strategy will need to address:

Changing Consumer Behavior: According to eMarketer, over 204 million people purchased goods or services online in 2020, over 7.4 million of those for the very first time. We all know the reason is due to the global COVID pandemic, however, now that these many people are comfortable with online purchases, numbers will only go up from here. This statistic will change the market ecosystem, as businesses that were once trapped by geographic constraints can now reach a new customer base. In turn, competition is also on the rise. Any business dealing with end consumers will first need to consider how it will reach and attract new customers, as well as sell to them. Systems including Ecommerce, marketing automation, and the use of Artificial Intelligence should be considered in any digital strategy.

For businesses that focus on B2B, their markets are also changing. Companies that used to build client or vendor relationships through trade shows have had to come to a new reality. The growth and increased functionality of web-conference and VoIP phone systems has been impressive and will likely continue as many businesses are realizing new benefits from the work-from-home shift. Along these same lines, increasing the need for strong HCM functionality will continue to be a focus in many digital strategy discussions.

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Disrupted Supply Chains: Think back to the toilet paper rush last March, and how ill-prepared many businesses were for this strange demand. Or the complete shut-down of certain supplies out of China. We are still not out of the woods, and global shortages and product and raw material delays will continue. Currently, steel and lumber are near all-time highs, and this is putting many businesses that depend on these and other building materials in a tough position. Continued and ever-changing supply chains are putting a new focus on the ability to forecast and quickly change things like purchasing decisions, production and delivery schedules, and even pricing. For most businesses, it is not possible any longer to keep up with manual efforts and spreadsheets.

The Speed of Change: The term “change” is an understatement for 2020. What we need to consider are two important factors:

  1. The speed of change will continue. Not only are businesses becoming accustom to making rapid change, but technology continues to move ever faster. No longer are we waiting around for generic upgrades to old platforms, but technologies continue to be developed, integrate with each other, and create stronger and faster capabilities. With AI, machines can now “think” on their own, accessing and manipulating data like never seen before. We need to consider that momentum like this will be difficult, if not impossible to slow, and businesses need to adapt, or they will get run over. This means that any digital strategy needs to have flexibility, not only in terms of application structure but also in budget and associated timelines.
  1. While technology and business continue to move faster and faster, humans are not necessarily on the same track. We have endured such dramatic changes over the past year that, while we actually have proven the ability to change, most of us are tired of change and have acquired a degree of change fatigue. The need for strong Organizational Change Management (OCM) MUST be at the core of any digital strategy and related transformation. Without proper attention to the human components of change, a digital transformation will more than likely fail.
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With that, wishing everyone a fantastic, enjoyable, profitable, and COVID-free New Year. As always, if you’d like to chat further about your business strategies in 2021 – please feel free to reach out to me directly. Cheers!

Brian Potts

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