The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown unprecedented challenges at the business world, meaning companies have had to deal with the unforeseen and the unknown. During nearly a year of incredible difficulty, uncertainty, and abrupt disruptions, businesses have had to pass through many unpleasant phases. However, 2020 has also provided many lessons and paved new paths. What’s in store for enterprises in the coming year is a matter of speculation, with experts divided in many regards.
Despite the uncertainties, it is possible to make predictions about what we may expect to see next year, at least to the best of our knowledge. Here are six predictions for businesses for 2021 so you can start planning for the year to come.
Business Won’t be Back to Normal Until the Second Half of the Year
Experts stand divided on the question of when everything will get back to normal: there is a broad spectrum of predictions on the matter. Half of the CFOs in major UK companies believe that business-enterprises will return to the pre-pandemic levels only in the second half of 2021. However, others believe that business may get back on track in the first part of the year. And there is a worst-case prediction too that hardships could even last as far as 2024. All we can do is wait to see how everything turns out, as it is hard to make concrete predictions in these times of rapid fluctuations and many unknowns.
Commerce Going Digital for Survival
The pandemic that cut down offline interactions drastically has meant businesses have had to depend on online and digital technologies more than ever. Whether it is for communication, sales, or payments systems, many companies that previously only made a minimal use of modern technologies started incorporating more technological solutions. The trend is here to stay and will become a significant deciding factor of business success in 2021. Most businesses already have an established digital presence through multiple channels including websites, apps, and social media to engage with their customers.
The COVID Vaccine Will Boost Sales
The anticipated vaccine rollout of the COVID vaccine will give a fresh hope to business in 2021. Almost all sectors will see increased activity, with healthcare, hospitality, and transport expected to flourish in particular. The vaccine will be the single most important reason for many businesses that have been in a hiatus for a while to spring back to work. Though issues with regulations, production, and distribution of the vaccine are still uncertain in a number of ways, experts look forward to it as a highly decisive factor for the recovery of businesses from their pandemic-induced slump.
The Customer Will Have to be Studied Anew
The Pandemic has made a drastic shift in consumer behaviour. There is a wide gap between pre-COVID and the post-COVID customer views in terms of their approach to prices and quality levels, the ability to shop digitally, and the kind of products they prefer. A significant proportion of consumers used digital financial services, including internet banking for the first time during the pandemic. Whatever businesses had learned about their customers will have to be relearned in 2021. It will have a considerable impact on how organisations conduct their affairs, plan strategies and advertise products.
UK Unemployment will Rise
The pandemic has rendered many people jobless. Last year, unemployment in the UK was 1.3 million. And predictions are that it will rise to somewhere between 1.9 million and 4 million in 2021. Much of the turbulence currently witnessed in the job market will carry over to 2021. Though the current unemployment rate of 4.8% according to the BBC is comparatively less than during the 2008 financial crisis, it unfortunately looks like it is set to rise in the future.
The Need for a Dedicated Budget for Cybersecurity
The coming year will demand cybersecurity to be a key consideration in any company’s budget. As more and more businesses go digital, the threats from the cyber world increase, such as phishing, ransom ware and hacking. Since many establishments have switched a considerable amount of operations to online only due to the COVID crisis, they may not be fully aware of the hidden threats and thus could be in a highly vulnerable.
For cybercriminals COVID-19 is an excellent opportunity to exploit newly established networks of small and medium companies. Cybercrime has increased more than ever during the pandemic, so companies that have moved online will need to step up their cybersecurity efforts (and budget) in 2021.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, things have been changing and taking new turns from month to month. Therefore, we cannot rely on any prediction as a surety. Factors like delays in the vaccine distribution due to regulation issues or complications with its production, and many other uncertainties could mean that more surprises are around the corner. Nevertheless, taking expert predictions into considerations, while being prepared for things to change, is the best way for businesses to set themselves up for success in 2021.