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Business Development Trends to Prepare for in 2021

Amie Parnaby
23/12/2020
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Business Development Trends 2021

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Here we are at the end of 2020 – the year we all wish had been very different. However, far from being universally awful, this year has taught us some important lessons, and irrevocably altered the path of business development trends through 2021. 

The people who track business development trends, usually do so in terms of annual development, five years and even look at ten-year timelines. Those predictions and direction calculations have been entirely altered by the changes brought by the circumstances of 2020. Now it’s time so see how emerging developments and virus-influenced trends will continue into 2021 and beyond the mass vaccination schemes.

 A Change is Gonna Come 

Technology is one area that will have made massive leaps in development, from necessity and opportunity. However, other trends set to continue into 2021 and beyond are far more human in nature, accounting for the massive importance of employee emotional and mental health in business success. Moreover, clients and customers’ personal feelings and sensibilities are becoming more prevalent in making purchase decisions.

So let’s get started.

Remote Working & Working from Home

business development trend for remote working

Remote working is a development that we should have seen coming as soon as it became necessary. For years, remote working has waxed and waned in popularity within business communities. Some have claimed it reduces productivity while others have claimed an increase in employees output. Some management teams prefer to keep their staff close and micromanage, while others are happy to let go of the reigns a little. It has all depended on personal preference in the management teams – with little input from the works it affects. 

Now, it’s a little different. If people can work from home to keep the business functioning during a lockdown, they will fight to keep that option available when it’s no longer necessary.

Working from home might not have been ideal for everyone, so working and office conditions are set to get a shakeup. Staggered office attendance for those who work from home, but need to keep in ready contact with their teams? That will happen.

From a different perspective, remote working doesn’t just affect whether people come into the office (or wherever your business is based). When people can take their work, especially services, away from the premises and into less densely populated homes or even outdoors, it increases the options for keeping people mentally healthy, working, and the business functioning.

It was hard to imagine this trend not continuing, and the technological advances that have come from the necessity of home working mean that it is no longer up for debate. Business can thrive with a remote workforce. Even if everyone gets a vaccine, remote working is not a trend that will soon go away.

Alternative Payment Options & Increasingly Cashless Economy

business development in cash alternatives

With reduced contact as a necessity throughout 2020, more people have become less inclined to use cash. With terrifying figures about how long the virus could survive on fabrics and fibres, some businesses banned cash altogether.  As a result, alternative payment methods using contactless credit and debit cards and mobile payment portals like Google and ApplePay have increased in popularity. Some payment gateways like PayPal have even enabled the ability to directly connect a bank account rather than a card.

This trend is not looking to abate at all into the future. Furthermore, decentralised finance (you know I’m talking about the surges in cryptocurrencies) is becoming much more likely. Crowdfunding and global interaction on projects make a decentralised and distributed finance system more essential than ever. Moreover, the crypto trend is surging once again. Watch the crypto-space for more information; there is a lot available for you to educate yourself. You might need the info sooner rather than later.

Virtual Services & Interfaces

business dev trends for virtual interfaces

With the lack of contact, even for essential items such as clothing, companies providing a virtual service are those who have made more significant inroads to alternative shopping experiences. It’s not just a retail experience either. Virtual consultations and collaborations have made doing business with clients much more accessible in contact-free circumstances. 

The benefit of achieving a contact-free service enables greater accessibility in situations beyond a global pandemic. When distance, injury or even terrible weather conditions make in-person contact impossible or unpleasant, virtual contact is there. It has opened up massive opportunities for businesses to expand their client bases. 

Virtual and augmented reality has been around for a while. However, AR and VR use hasn’t gained traction until circumstances made them “necessary”. Now businesses are wondering why they never got on board before.

AI, Machine Learning, Automation & 5G

Automation, machine learning and AI will play a massive part in the coming months. Data has become a commodity that can be exploited to improve customer relationships, personalise the customer journey, increase sales and profits, and so much more.

Automation reducing the human error and contact aspects of some roles might sound like a bad thing. Still, there will always be a human aspect, even when specific functions become automated. Machine learning and AI will do more than simple analyses of customer data. They are on the verge of remembering preferences and learning optimal parameters for everything up to controlling office environments. Smart buildings are already here and will be making significant business development waves well beyond 2021.

5G will become mainstream this year. While 2020 put a hold on the widespread implementation, 2021 will be the year we all got 5G technology. Furthermore, 5G tech will push forward a significant number of remote and distance technologies.

Cultural Shift in Business Approach

Is yours an ethical, sustainable, and caring business?

Employee and customer care have become far more critical to businesses this year. More than ever, people have come to the point of understanding that a company with a meaningful purpose, a is a business far more worthy of their business than one that simply gives them a reasonable price. Quality comes in many guises, and customer and employee care are two of them.

Employee care and commitment to a good working environment are essential in providing excellent products and services. It’s a simple equation; a staff member who is happy in their role and feels a sense of achievement and purpose is far more likely to provide a better experience for their customers. Likewise, a well-served customer, who has an excellent experience, is also more likely to stay loyal and act as an ambassador. Sadly, it has taken a pandemic for some businesses to realise this, but better late than never.  

Thankfully, the effects of lockdowns and limited human contact have served to unline the need for kindness, empathy, and understanding on both sides of the company/client equation. Moreover, your customers and clients will demand ethical and sustainable practises, in return for their continued business. 

Other considerations such as environmental sustainability and social responsibility have become crucial aspects of customer choice metrics even without the pandemic.

Business Development Opportunities in 2021

More than business development trends, there are also opportunities available for those who want to grab them. Some industries set to make considerable strides in 2021 will be taking advantage of the prevailing trends to push the development of their plans.

Autonomous Cars and Contactless delivery 

Self-driving cars and contactless deliveries will be making a push in the upcoming year. Already autonomous cars have been trialled and made public in China. Meanwhile, other companies worldwide have either developed their own or bought up smaller companies developing the technology.

Online, Distance & Remote Learning 

Even when everything gets back to normal, many learning institutions have been advised to keep distance learning available. There are massive opportunities for schools, colleges, and universities to expand their provision. Moreover, it enables greater access for children who find school challenging for a variety of social reasons.

Telemedicine & Telehealth 

Remote medicine and healthcare will develop much further in 2021, with VR and AR allowing for avatar diagnostic tools. Video conferencing with patients and even initial consultations for further treatment will become far more prevalent in the future. 5G will be a considerable part of the telemedicine development track.

It’s not just about the lack of person-to-person contact. These technologies open up greater possibilities for patients to choose the right doctor and treatment plan for them, rather than locally available. Did anyone see the video of a doctor performing remote surgery on a banana in California…while he was in London! 

Have you heard of micro-mobility? 

If you haven’t, then it’s the hire of small conveyances like e-bikes and e-scooters. In some respects, it also applies to the short term car hire/rideshares that you can book, open, and start with an app. While lockdowns reduced those rentals significantly, in post-lockdown environments, their use soared. Primarily, because it allowed for freedom of movement while maintaining social distancing (not really possible will carpooling). Many countries have introduced miles of new cycle paths, in advance of this increasing trend.

Recently, the UK announced that they would ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Ten years isn’t a long time to implement a nationwide alternative transport option for everyone. Consequently, micro-mobility initiatives have garnered a lot of interest.

Business Development Trends – Brought to you by 2020

Much as we have hated most of what 2020 has brought us, we can’t complain about some of the amazing technological, cultural, and social shifts we have seen. Business developments that might have taken another two or three years to come to fruition have been expedited by necessity.

They say the “necessity is the mother of invention”, and 2020 has proven that in many ways. Not only are there technological and social changes we need to make part of the business ethos, but there are also considerable business opportunities to be grasped with both hands.

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