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3 Digital Trends to Watch for in 2021: Why Businesses Need Robots to Survive

By December 30, 2020January 14th, 2021Technology

Today we are taking a deep dive on the big trends the business world will face in 2021. 

This topic has been addressed thousands, if not millions of times by now. It’s related to COVID-19 and how, in my opinion, it’s going to affect the business digital landscape in 2021. We will dive deep into the three obvious, or not so obvious, trends that businesses will see more of in 2021 because of COVID-19. How has COVID-10 shaken up the business world and changed it for the foreseeable future, on a local and global level?

What three obvious (or not so obvious) trends are we going to see in the digital business world in 2021?

NUMBER ONE: The Necessity of Analytics + an Online Presence

Companies who weren’t heavily invested in analytics in 2020 probably won’t be in business in 2021. Now, when I say analytics, a lot of people are going to say, well duh, of course analytics are important for any business. We are seeing the importance especially for small businesses. Large enterprises, large brands, and corporations are accustomed to analytics, data, business intelligence, and using data and statistics to back their strategic decisions and make calls related to their business. Small businesses, even mid-sized businesses, are not. 

The pandemic thrust analytics, or the importance of them, onto small business owners already full plates. The reason being that margins have been smaller now than ever before because of COVID-19. Every decision that a small business owner makes during this pandemic is that much more crucial to the survival of their business. It could be the life or death of your business. What was once a menial decision could now end your business today or tomorrow, or those decisions may keep your business alive. Having analytics, data and hard numbers behind decisions for small business owners adds value and confidence in what they’re doing.

Chart and analytics on computer image.

Analytics pairs perfectly with the most obvious change due to the pandemic for small to mid-sized businesses: diving into the deep end in the digital world. An example of this is mom and pop shops that were not involved previously using digital have been forced to use PPC for the first time. They are looking into SEO and investing in a website. They’re trying to sell their products online, replacing in-person sales. These digital platforms are ways of advertising and marketing. 

The shift to digital is a silver lining for small and midsize business owners because it allows them to see insights, statistics, and analytics that they otherwise were not seeing before. Having always relied on traditional marketing and advertising pre-COVID-19, a shift toward all digital is not easy. But moving online opens up the possibility of tracking and measuring everything that happens in real time, if done intelligently. 

Being able to track, measure, and record results from the digital world is a silver lining for all businesses. This is something that small and mid-sized businesses are going to carry well into 2021. And hey, we can and should use analytics, data, and statistics the way the big businesses do. This trend will allow small and mid-sized businesses to be more strategic, confident, and ESPECIALLY efficient going forward. Expect to see small and midsize businesses using Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Instagram analytics, and other basic analytics and statistics to back their decisions going forward. They will be more efficient because of it. I guarantee that in 2021. 

NUMBER TWO: AI + Machine Learning

In 2021 we will continue to see AI and machine learning come into play, quicker. It will be faster in 2021 and adopted more in 2021. In speaking with some colleagues, it feels like the year 2030 has been thrown at us, but a decade sooner than anticipated. Because of COVID-19, we have seen aspects of the digital world and technology we would not have seen until 2030. We’re going to see these advances early into 2021. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are hot words and topics right now. AI and machine learning will be critical for the success of businesses with the influx of data and analytics as a result of the pandemic. The drastic increase of data will overwhelm the human capabilities, our human systems, and our understanding. To cope, we’re going to need systems and processes like artificial intelligence and machine learning to sift through, share, and make sense of this data to make strategic decisions at higher levels. There’s too much data for any one human or even a team of humans, an army of humans, to make all of the decisions. We’re going to see A.I. and machine learning become a part of every business. 

Robot hand touching another persons hand image.

We will see new platforms, tools, and agencies that are going to employ these strategies enabling businesses and business owners to use data and analytics to help their companies grow and succeed. Small businesses will see the use of artificial intelligence in SAS tools or platforms in 2021. I’ve seen the power in digital marketing tools available for small agencies to leverage artificial intelligence. Although these tools and processes are new and unfamiliar, there’s plenty of things to work through and work out. It’s exciting to see how this area of technology, and how fast it has grown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NUMBER THREE: Robotic Process Automation

The new year will usher in an increase in RPA. RPA stands for robotic process automation. RPA provides organizations the ability to reduce staffing costs and human error. David Chatzky, a managing director at Deloitte L.P., points to a bank’s experience with implementing RPA. The bank redesigned its claims process by deploying 85 bots to run 13 processes, handling one point five million requests per year. The bank’s RPA added capacity equivalent to more than 200 full-time employees at approximately 30% of the cost of recruiting more staff. This is something we’ve already heard, and we kind of roll our eyes and say, “Robots? Really?” Or we say, “Oh my gosh, we’re putting computers in the fast food lines where they’re taking our order instead of humans.” But it’s all a bit more nuanced than that.

You’re going to see businesses of all sizes looking to use RPA on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. They’re going to look for ways to use robotic process optimization because it makes their businesses more efficient. It’s a fancy term, but at the end of the day, it’s trying to find ways of using digital or automations to make your business more efficient. Finding lower quality tasks, ones that do not require high levels of creativity or strategy, the irreplaceable human element, to complete. Let’s be honest, when you think about it that way, those things should be automated.

Mode dial image.

I know that the immediate response is, “Robots are taking our jobs!”. My take is that RPAs free up the human species to focus on what we do best. Humans are best at creating and being creative. We excel at strategic thinking and implementation. We work well with other humans. We are entrepreneurs. We are pioneers. Automating lower tasks frees up time for innovation. When you kind of look at someone’s task sheet, you might say, “Wow, you know, I feel like 70% of these tasks could be automated.” Automated tasks can include email responses or chatbots on a website. We can automate welcome emails, newsletters, or drip campaigns through a website. We already automate online ads and bidding strategies. Most digital tools have the capacity to automate these processes. As previously mentioned, the biggest benefit is more time to focus on what you do best: creativity, strategy, and human interaction. 

You will see all business types and sizes continue to leverage RPA, robotic process automation, going forward. My challenge to you is to write out some of your daily or weekly tasks. Write them all down on a list and circle the ones that you feel like could be automated. You will be shocked at the amount that can and should be automated. Make it a 2021 resolution to look into automation processes. Many businesses have been forced to do this. Automation is another silver lining from this coronavirus pandemic. Businesses will come out the other side more efficient and with the ability to see the power of digital, allowing for more creativity. 

Those are the three obvious (and not so obvious) trends and changes we will see more of in 2021. To review really quick: 

  1. Use of analytics, especially for small businesses and decision makers 
  2. Increased artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret, understand, and digest analytics and data 
  3. RPA, or robotic process automation to free up time on menial tasks and dive into innovation, creativity, human interaction, and strategic thinking and implementation  

These are the three things that Big Red Jelly will continue to implement for our business and our clients. What do you think? What are some digital trends that you think are going to make waves in 2021 because of this COVID-19 pandemic? 

Let’s continue this conversation on our social media channels! Check out our weekly industry videos on our Facebook or Instagram accounts at 3PM (MST) every Thursday.

Today’s article comes from a previously recorded video. Check out the video here!