Five digital trends you can’t ignore in 2021

Guest post by Andrew Miles
People either love trends or hate them, but there’s no denying they help businesses to foresee opportunities in the coming year. Not all trends come to fruition, but after 2020, some digital trends are simply inevitable.
Twenty twenty-one is set to be a unique year for business. In the UK, the next twelve months will come with many challenges, including the enduring pandemic, the recession and working our way through Brexit’s teething problems. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be a successful year for business, fraught with new and exciting opportunities. Here are five d igital trends for 2021 you don’t want to miss:
Hybrid organisations that promote flexibility
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we could all benefit from more flexibility in our work schedules. Those forced to work from home have enjoyed the newfound flexibility and are reluctant to return to the office . 
Using the power of cloud technology and cloud services , one idea is to create a hybrid business that allows all employees to collaborate in one digital ecosystem, whether at home or in the physical office, and from anywhere in the world. 
Hybrid businesses are set to become the norm, helping employees to improve their work/life balance and boost morale. Companies can also benefit from enhanced collaboration software, increased productivity, happier employees and reduced desk space costs. 
Augmented reality to help boost sales
For many industries during the pandemic, it’s been challenging to sell products online, as they require a visual or learning experience to make the sale. Furniture is a prime example of a product that most people want to see and feel before they commit to a purchase. This inspired IKEA to launch its augmented reality app where customers can view what the products will look like in their home using their phone screens before buying.
Industries that require this type of visual experience are likely to adopt similar technology this year in a bid to increase digital sales as lockdowns continue and people are forced to shop online. 
Increased cybersecurity
Unfortunately, during the pandemic, cybercriminals have sought to take advantage of increasing numbers of people spending time online by using phishing scams. It’s believed that cyber crimes have become more targeted and sophisticated , which has pushed cybersecurity developers to improve their products. 
Twenty twenty-one will see a considerable boost in innovation for the cybersecurity industry, and businesses will need to act quickly to stay protected. The latest research from PWC found that 50% of UK organisations are set to see cybersecurity baked into every business decision this year.
The report also found that 58% of UK organisations believed they were likely to receive an attack on their cloud services. The importance of updating cybersecurity protocols will be instrumental in staying protected this year. 
5G will take over
It’s no conspiracy that 5G will change the world forever. With ultra-fast connection speeds and seamless video capabilities, 5G will be an invaluable tool for every company in the world. As businesses become increasingly hybrid, with people working in-house and remotely, they will require the super-connection to work collaboratively and communicate effectively.
Businesses will also benefit from improved network reliability and a significant increase in the number of connected devices. All of this will make companies able to operate more efficiently and become more adaptive. 
Blockchain will explode
Innovators worldwide are exploring new and unique ways to use blockchain technology, and these are likely to disrupt and transform traditional business models. 
The world of blockchain technology can be overwhelming, but the concept is quite simple. Blockchain is a type of database that stores data in blocks and then links them, via a chain, in chronological order. Right now, the benefits of blockchain are predominantly used for ledger transactions, allowing for:

Increased transparency
Enhanced security
Improved traceability
Increased efficiency and speed of transactions
Reduced costs.

This year will see a rapid increase in governments and organisations using blockchain to their advantage worldwide.
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