4 key digital transformation trends for 2021

We explore the 4 key digital transformation trends we predict for 2021, from intelligent automation to low code.

The outbreak and continued ravages of Covid-19 have accelerated digital transformation to an eye-watering pace. Faced with unprecedented challenges and threats to survival, businesses quickly adopted new technologies to allow for remote working, increased cyber security and better customer experiences. In the next year, as the economic and social repercussions of Covid-19 become more apparent, digital transformation will maintain its frenetic pace as businesses look to first stabilise and then gain a competitive advantage over less nimble and strategic competitors.

Here are our predictions for the b2b tech trends that will shape 2021 and beyond. 

Remote working will be normalised

Anyone who remembers scrambling for an office chair and a quiet place to hold Zoom calls way back in March 2019 will be fully aware of the shift to remote working. Whatever its benefits and challenges, we don’t expect remote working to go away in 2021. In fact, the ‘anywhere operations’ model, which allows business to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere, is here to stay.

That is not to say physical offices are obsolete, but it does mean businesses must adapt to a marketplace and, indeed, a world, that is digital-first. As the pandemic has shown, many businesses can transact and even thrive with no physical presence or face-to-face meetings. And while this may not be ideal for all industries, adopting a digital-first approach to business challenges going forward will make any further wide-scale disruptions easier to withstand and overcome. 

Low code will continue to disrupt traditional software development

“An important lesson of the 2020 global pandemic,” writes Betsy Atkins, serial entrepreneur and Forbes contributor, “is that companies across most sectors of the economy that offered a competitive product with a good digital experience survived and, in many cases, thrived while their competitors simply underperformed or failed.” [1]

At the heart of all good digital experiences is software and, taking it back a step, code. Software development has transformed significantly in the last decade, shifting company priorities, increasing the speed that products can be bought to market, and also lowering costs, due in part to the explosion of available talent in the software development arena. Low code looks to continue the transformation of this area, removing the complexity of traditional coding from scratch and enabling non-technical business personnel to provide valuable input to what was previously considered an obscure and esoteric discipline.

Low code can also integrate seamlessly with emerging, soon-to-be essential tech such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data, allowing for one unified view of the truth and providing dev teams with the ability to accelerate product builds 20x.

The rise of the Intelligent composable businesses

The term ‘intelligent composable business’ was first used at a Gartner keynote in 2019. It is described as “a natural acceleration of the digital business that you live in every day. It allows [us] to deliver the resilience and agility that these interesting times demand… architecting your business for real-time adaptability and resilience in the face of uncertainty.”[2]

A business that can adapt and rearrange itself to changing situations has the ability to make fast decisions and outmanoeuvre competitors. To be able to do this, organisations must enable better access to information, augment that information with better insight and have the ability to respond quickly to the implications of that insight. Necessarily, this means increasing the autonomy of the workforce and promoting a culture of enablement – something that we talk about a lot at Procensol – that will allow parts of businesses to quickly react rather than being at the mercy of inefficient processes.

This is indeed a larger shift, rather than just a technology trend, but technology will play a key role in making composable businesses a reality, for example in the use of APIs to augment existing digital capabilities.  

Intelligent automation will reach the tipping point

According to Salesforce, 81% of IT organisations will automate more tasks to allow team members to focus on innovation over the next 12 months to 18 months. [3] Intelligent automation – an agile ecosystem comprising robotic process automation (RPA), low code/business process management (BPM), machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), will play an ever-growing role in this shift.

The growing concept of hyper-automation – that whatever can be automated in a business should be automated – will quickly further IA adoption. Organisations struggling under the weight of legacy systems and technical debt will be forced to seek out solutions that are efficient, fast and democratic, and IA – easily integrated and with some elements cheaper than the annual average wage of an IT administrator – will fit the bill.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/betsyatkins/2020/11/24/the-most-disruptive-trend-of-2021-no-code--low-code/
[2] https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-keynote-the-future-of-business-is-composable/
[3] https://www.salesforce.com/au/blog/2019/12/leverage-automation-technologies-for-2020.html


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