8 Digital Transformation Trends and Strategies for 2021

The digital age is in full swing, and new technologies are popping up every day, everywhere.

Hell, Jeff Bezos made it to outer space!

digital transformation
CEO, entrepreneur… born in 1964… Jeffrey… Jeffrey Bezos 🚀

When the times are changing so rapidly, it’s important to stay on top of trends so that you don’t get left behind.

So, in this article, we will take a look at digital adaptation, why it matters, and some of the biggest trends this year.

Buckle up, and let’s get to it!

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation, in its most basic form, defines how a company utilizes technology, people, and processes to provide value to its customers. In doing so, businesses aim to come up with business models that will last longer and bring in the most revenue. It all comes down to a technological rethinking.

Here’s how Gather defines it: “The process of leveraging emerging technology and supporting skills to build a robust new business model.”

But what makes it so important?

why is digital transformation important

Why should you transform your business into the digital space?

By 2025, it is foreseen that the digital transformation market will grow at a CAGR of 23% from 2019 to $3.3 trillion.

Why?

Because it’s what makes businesses grow.

Think about it. Essentially, digital transformation is all about cumulating all weapons in your arsenal to be able to put up a good fight with your competitors in the big league.

The more you implement it, the higher chances you have of being the last one standing.

But it won’t do a thing if you don’t know what the trends are. So, let’s take a look at the top digital transformation trends in 2021.

Top digital transformation trends in 2021

1- The explosion of Customer Data Platforms (CDP)

In the digital age, data is being collected everywhere

Companies now have access to a lot more data about their customers than ever before.

Whether they are interacting with your company or purchasing one of your products or services, you’re getting all sorts of information from them. This holds true for both small and large businesses.

The only difference is how this data is used to learn more about customer behavior and their desires.

This would not be a problem for smaller companies with a limited marketing stack. However, for businesses with a wide range of products, marketing channels, and customers, extracting information from such a wide pool of data can be difficult.

And that’s where the customer data platform comes into play.

A customer data platform (CDP) is a single source of customer data that you can use to create more personalized and engaging marketing campaigns for your customers.

CDPs may appear to be solely for the marketing department at first sight, but this is not the case. CDPs can also be used by the finance and IT departments to make quick decisions about services, products, and other company investments.

2- Refocus on cybersecurity

Ever had to renew your password? Bet you did.

The digital transformation began as an innovative approach to process and product development a few years ago.

As part of their quicker go-to-market strategy, companies began fast-tracking initiatives like DevOps.

One thing that was left behind at the time was security.

In fact, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 60% of digital businesses would experience major service failures due to security teams’ inability to handle digital risk.

With the rise of cyberattacks in recent years, the prediction has come true. More than 445 million cyberattacks were reported in 2020.

As part of risk management, IT companies now have CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) who hold cybersecurity high on their list of priorities.

The COVID-19 situation has highlighted the importance of strong cybersecurity practices. Although there is no one solution for all security risks, striking a balance between people, processes, and technology is necessary.

Security teams must ensure that the organization’s security practices keep up with the speed of digital transformation.

To put it another way, the emphasis should not solely be on “how can I speed up a process?” but on “how to safely speed up a process?”

No more gambling. It’s time to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the cloud into security solutions.

digital transformation multi cloud architecture

3- Multi-cloud architecture

A multi-cloud architecture refers to distributing software and workloads within an organization using one or two private or public clouds.

The COVID-19 situation has also created a push towards the adoption of multi-cloud architecture to reduce business continuity risks. This is due to companies’ desire for easier ways to manage the modern working model, which includes a greater emphasis on enabling remote work and security.

A multi-cloud strategy is used for a variety of reasons, including disaster recovery, data residency requirements, and resilience.

The only stumbling block is the increasing complexity of infrastructure management. 

To manage their various cloud environments, businesses must search for cloud management and automation solutions. These will also assist them in meeting agility requirements and trying out new delivery models.

4- Democratization of AI

The process of democratization of AI has the potential to accelerate digital transformation within a business, making it one of the most important digital transformation trends for 2021.

To put it another way, democratizing AI is making it accessible to every organization, and if possible, every person within that organization.

This involves using AI-based tools to spot and recognize trends, make decisions, forecast, learn, and improve.

Every company, from tech-savvy startups to large corporations, will try to incorporate AI into its systems and processes.

While some may have the resources to make this integration happen, others can start their AI journey with the help of AI-as-a-service providers and AI solutions from companies like Google, Microsoft, and AWS.

Aside from the difficulty of implementation, AI can be costly for many businesses. This is something that businesses will have to work on.

Still, the healthcare industry is a great example of AI integration. AI’s implementation in healthcare, according to tech enthusiasts, has transformed the industry.

digital transformation contactless payment

5- Contactless solutions and digital payments

This year’s digital transformation trends to watch include the rise of no-touch solutions, as well as contactless dining and digital payments.

Restaurants and cafés are developing contactless solutions to take customer orders as a result of COVID-19-induced social distancing norms. This involves not only online ordering for food delivery or takeout, but also in-seat ordering.

In theatres and convention centers, in-seat ordering refers to a system in which customers can order food from their seats using a smartphone app or a QR code, rather than waiting in lines or missing the show.

Customers can use QR codes to browse menus, order food and drinks, and pay with their phones while sitting.

Digital payments, on the other hand, are a great way to avoid having to make contact with someone in a shop. People and companies all over the world can now access the digital economy through the use of digital payment methods.

Digital payments are a part of the banking industry’s numerous digital transformation initiatives. The overall transaction volume in the Digital Payments market is expected to hit $6,685,102 million in 2021, according to Statista.

The move toward contactless solutions and digital payments will require strong digital infrastructure support, thus speeding up the digital transformation.

6- Automation

It is usual for automation and digital transformation to coexist. The main explanation for this is that when one is adopted, the other follows. 

Companies will increase the pace of digital transformation within their organizations by automating more of their processes. While automation is the process, digital transformation is the end result.

COVID-19 is another reason businesses will now place a greater emphasis on automation than ever before. Those in manufacturing and other secondary industries, in particular.

Business leaders will now need to follow automation practices in order to keep their companies afloat and to make business operations run smoothly.

According to the World Economic Forum, 80% of CEOs are speeding up efforts to digitize work processes and implement new technologies. We can also expect automation in other industries, such as retail and cybersecurity.

Moreover, Gartner says that hyper-automation will be a major technology trend in 2021. It defines how technologies such as machine learning, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), artificial intelligence, low code, and others are used together.

Businesses can also turn to cloud-based automation systems for increased scalability and lower total cost of ownership.

7- 5G

For the last two or three years, 5G has been a widely popular buzzword. It’s all set to go viral this year.

digital transformation trends 5g
Remember when… or not…

One thing is for sure. The adoption of 5G will speed up the transformation of the digital world.

For telecom providers, 5G offers a whole slew of benefits, ranging from increased capacity to the delivery of new content, services, and experiences in previously unthinkable ways and at incredible speeds.

5G has the potential to transform business models and operations by dramatically improving how services are delivered to end-users. It will provide faster speeds, lower latency, and a higher density than 4G networks.

Companies will need to invest more in network infrastructure, especially cloud service providers, to deliver and reap the full benefits of 5G. Meanwhile, CSPs will have to figure out how to provide services over 5G in the most efficient way possible

This will also pave the way for the adoption of telco cloud, a software-defined technology that will support both the existing 4G and the latest 5G.

8- Data Analytics

Making data-driven decisions is a key tenet of digital transformation.

Data is the lifeblood of your business, but it must be sorted, processed, and analyzed to reach its full potential.

Smart data analytics can help you in extracting valuable information from the raw data that has been processed. It helps improve decision-making and increases the productivity of the organization.

Data and analytics will be essential in accelerating a company’s digitization and transformation efforts. Gartner predicts that by 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will specifically reference information as a critical business asset and analytics as a critical competency.

The different types of data analytics can have different implications across different departments.

Although descriptive analytics can help you figure out “what happened,” diagnostic analytics can help you determine “why it happened.” 

As a result, these data analytics measures can be used by different departments within a company to find solutions to complex problems. It can help in customer behavior prediction, supply chain process optimization, and sales pipeline optimization, and so on.

A Digital Transformation Success Story: RAM

RAM, a South Africa based hand-to-hand corrier service was going through a change.

They were adapting to the digital transformation and decided to change everything in their internal IT platform.

What was the challange?

Thousands of courriers who needed to learn the new platform.

Onboarding is obviously one of the core challanges of digital transformation. But RAM took on the challange and managed to come out victorious. With UserGuiding.

After they have utilized UserGuiding’s interactive guide feature to help onboard 40 branches of employees, nothing can stop RAM in their digital transformation. (psst, read their full story)

digital transformation RAM success story

Impressed? You can be the next RAM 👉 jump right in.

Conclusion

Before you start creating a digital strategy for your business, keep in mind that digital transformation involves more than just technology.

It’s not as easy as selecting technology and putting it to use. To define the company’s digital strategy, you must first set concrete goals and statements.

Following that, you must focus on improving the mindset of those involved, especially employees. They will help you in achieving your digital business transformation goals.

It’s also important to keep up with the most recent digital transformation trends, like the ones we’ve discussed in this post. It’ll assist you in making better decisions about your digital strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do you develop a digital transformation strategy?

To come up with a digital transformation strategy, you must first consider all aspects of your business, including company size, work environment, safety matters, and many more.


How do you make a digital transformation roadmap?

Just as it is with any other type of roadmap, you must start by analyzing, decide on realistic but growth-oriented goals, and start implementing your strategies right away.


What is a digital transformation framework?

A digital transformation framework is the game plan for a change period in your company. The more detailed and structured it is, the better chances you have of achieving your goals.

Mert Aktas

Mert is the Marketing Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.