2021 Technology Trends reveals the changing role of IT.

2021 Technology Trends Report provides a window into the IT industry and shows how the pandemic has impacted thousands of IT professionals across top-performing companies. We’ve highlighted the key takeaways from the report below. Download the full report to see all trends and insights.

IT is now at the heart of customer experience.

Over the last year, IT has played a crucial role in holding teams together and helping companies embrace digital transformation. The 2021 Technology Trends Report, produced in collaboration with Econsultancy, shows how IT professionals have the chance to take a more strategic role within organisations and develop the technology at the heart of great customer experiences (CX).

Leading the way in CX development.

The IT industry came under considerable pressure in 2020 as organisations adapted to remote working conditions and a record number of digital customers. Periods of lockdown and sustained uncertainty have highlighted the importance of IT in meeting commercial objectives both through digital transformation and reducing costs. On top of this, they were also dealing with priorities such as security and increased adoption of cloud services. When asked what technologies will have the greatest impact on CX, 37% of IT professionals said ‘predictive analytics to calculate the value of interactions’, and 33% said ‘customer data platforms to optimise data management. In 2021, we can expect to see IT teams working even more closely with other parts of the business and taking responsibility for areas that were previously the domain of marketing or product.

 

Our top recommendation for 2021: 
IT function needs to play a strategic role in developing new technologies that drive customer experience (CX).

 

Two areas are holding businesses back.

Legacy technology and workflow issues. In the 2021 Technology Trends Report, 39% of both IT and non-IT respondents admitted that legacy systems are an internal barrier to success, while workflow issues are regarded as a challenge by 33% of IT professionals and 40% of their peers. For instance, poor data quality was a common frustration due to a lack of real-time data preventing marketers from having a 360-degree view of customers and making agile decisions. Aside from technology, organisations also need the right people who know how to use it. This year’s report highlighted issues around a lack of digital skills and training, which might have been a less immediate priority throughout 2020. Even though the best marketing and CX technology should be user-friendly, companies still need to do more to upskill their employees or bring in the right people. 

 

Our top recommendation for 2021: 
IT professionals need to push for integrated technology stacks and user-friendly systems that remove the barriers between teams. 

The answers to 2021 are waiting for you here.

Enter the 2021 Digital Trends Experience and immerse yourself in new world of opportunities. This is where trends come to life.

Customer experience depends on insights.

At the start of the pandemic, most companies were forced to adapt with almost no warning or insights to guide them. However, in the last six months of 2020, some companies significantly outperformed their sector and began pulling ahead. When exploring the reasons why, the 2021 Technology Trends Report found that 69% of IT professionals working at top-performing companies were 69% more likely than those working at mainstream companies to say they have ‘significant’ insight’ into the journeys of new customers. The organisations most likely to succeed in 2021 are those most efficient at building new and existing revenue streams based on a clear understanding of customer needs. The importance of real-time insights cannot be overstated speed, accuracy and actionability will be crucial to success in the year ahead.

 

Our top recommendation for 2021: 
IT professionals need to help organisations surface customer insights as quickly as possible, making sure they are both accurate and actionable.

IT teams must embrace innovation.

As IT takes a more strategic role, there’s an opportunity to shift from being responsive to actively pursuing new opportunities. In the 2021 Technology Trends Report, we found that IT professionals working at top-performing companies are nearly twice as likely to strongly agree that they’re ‘well prepared to exploit the CX opportunities presented by new marketing technologies’. For instance, one trend for 2021 is the use of chatbots to handle customer and employee requests answering questions, resolving issues and even driving sales in a way that’s both authentic and cost-effective. Again, IT professionals at the most successful companies were almost twice as likely to identify chatbots as one of the most impactful technologies for driving a positive customer experience. Although chatbots are not the answer to all CX challenges, they are one example of how top-performing companies continue to invest in optimisation. 

Our top recommendation for 2021:
CIOs must lead their way in encouraging their teams to champion innovative technology to help their companies become more customer-centric.

Three areas where top-performing companies excel.

Innovation and experimentation
54% of IT professionals at top-performing companies are nearly twice as likely to strongly agree that they’re well prepared to exploit CX opportunities.

Collaboration with marketing
59% are significantly more likely to strongly agree that CX priorities are pushing their IT/Tech team to work more closely with other parts of the business.

Viewing IT as a strategic
role

56% reported that their IT/tech team is now involved in decision-making around choosing and implementing CX technology.

Download the report to plan ahead.