There is no denying that, as far as Christmas days go, 2020’s is much different than most of us are used to. Instead of visiting with family and friends, most of us are remaining at home and awaiting the normalcy that a vaccine to COVID-19 will bring.

With that normalcy, we also anticipate a return to something like typical business operations.

With that in mind, let’s consider how the business trends of the past year will carry over into 2021.

Business in 2020

As most years do, 2020 began with some optimistic looks to the future—an impression that would quickly change as entrepreneurs suddenly needed to make drastic changes.

Many states completely shut down all businesses not deemed essential, and those that remained open could only do so with strict limitations on their occupancy to enable social distancing.

Businesses that could no longer host their staff members in-house were forced to allow remote work, despite many resisting it for some time previously. This required some technologies to be hastily implemented.

Due to this haste, many businesses suddenly found themselves more vulnerable to cybercrime, opportunistic hackers and other cybercriminals capitalizing on the fear surrounding the pandemic to great success.

As time passed, the finances of many businesses became strained, and they began to invest what they could into adapting as well as they could manage. For instance:

  • Many businesses newly incorporated pandemics and other health emergencies into their business continuity platforms and strategies.
  • More remote-enabling technology than ever before was adopted, like conferencing solutions, remote access, distance learning, telehealth, eCommerce, and contactless payments.
  • Many businesses also adopted cloud solutions, like software-as-a-service (SaaS) to help optimize their costs.

While these technologies were all available before the spread of COVID-19, it was the pandemic that really highlighted their benefits… despite the aforementioned uptick in cybercrime that the sudden transition enabled.

What Will 2021 Have in Store?

With a week remaining in 2020, we are still grappling with the impacts of COVID-19. While there are now vaccines developed to fight back the virus and hundreds of thousands ready to be inoculated in the beginning months of this year, those at risk still number in the hundreds of millions.

Most things will not change for some time, so it is important that we all continue six-foot minimum social distancing, diligent hand washing, and mask-wearing. With a year’s worth of experience behind us, we all know what it will take to remain safe until more vaccine doses are available.

As a result, many companies will continue to feel the virus’ impacts upon their operations, but those that persevere are going to come away from it with an advantage: more experience working in the digital space.

Since the reality of the COVID-19 situation has forced them to adapt to the drawbacks of it, the benefits were able to be fully appreciated, and so we anticipate more opportunities to come up in 2021.

Gig workers, who took a major hit throughout the pandemic, will likely see a huge boost thanks to this expansion of remote work. As many businesses have closed, those former employees will likely embrace gig work as the demand for it spikes.

Artificial intelligence will also likely see an upswing amongst businesses, as rule-based automation and machine learning will assist in expanding these businesses online.

The capabilities of AI today can also give companies a clearer picture of their ideal customer base and their resulting opportunities, while also eliminating inefficiencies and picking up on customer support needs.

Finally, and perhaps most predictably, the move to digital operations will require companies to greatly improve their cybersecurity. In addition to the features that many AI-based security tools offer, companies will need to reconsider their policies and procedures as they reexamine their chosen platforms.

A data breach—particularly as these businesses are restructuring and adapting—would likely be fatal to a company, especially a smaller one. Considering this, businesses need to commit greater focus to their cyber health from this point forward.

Of Course, We Still Wish You a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

While 2020 has been undeniably difficult, with so many struggling and grieving lost loved ones, it is important that we set aside time to find some happiness. For the record, DataNet Pacific Hawaii and our whole team appreciate all our clients and readers, and we want to thank you for trusting us.

Here’s hoping that 2021 is a much better year than its predecessor. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our consultants to discuss what DataNet Pacific Hawaii can do to help your business turn this hope into reality. Give us a call at 808-529-5678.