What to Watch and What it Can Mean for Your Company

By Bernie Dixon


I am so ready to end 2020, the year of the pandemic. I am experiencing Zoom fatigue, coronavirus fatigue, and an undying desire for things to return to something resembling normalcy.

We all pared our businesses to the bare core, slashing costs, deciding what people and actions actually drove sales and revenues and ridding our companies of anything not positively tied to the bottom line. We flipped into virtual mode and learned how best to interact with customers while experimenting with keeping our employees and partners engaged and happy. We have all pivoted to be able to drive revenues through products and services that are the most needed, most wanted and the most profitable for our companies. In some cases, we survived, in other cases we realized we could thrive by taking advantage of savings that arose out of cost cutting and applying it to growing our businesses even faster. Some of us closed on new business over Zoom and raised venture capital to further bolster growth.

In 2020 we cried over tragedies in healthcare and urban unrest. We laughed over who had the most outrageous masks. We lamented over the absurdity of national and global events. We got excited with the highlight of our day: food delivery. We anticipated with delight our weekly trip to Costco, the ”safest” retailer during the pandemic. We zoomed with our colleagues, teachers, temples, churches, families, and friends. We both savored and rued our way through spending so much family “together” time. And we worked more than ever.

In my non-working time …. after binge watching every season of every historical drama series I could find on Netflix and Amazon, every British PBS series I could find and all 7 seasons of Blacklist, I have found a new reality. James Spader and I are friends. He doesn’t know it. He doesn’t even know me, but he understands me. He talks to me through his Blacklist episodes. Oh, geez. I need to get a life. I am so much better running businesses. 

And so, I took a few days of downtime last week to regroup and think about 2021. Apparently, I needed it.

Putting 2020 in the rearview mirror and moving my thoughts to business in 2021, I recognized that some changes are here to stay. Realistically, even before the mud hit the fan in Q1 2020, huge changes were erupting in every industry and marketplace. The onset of a global pandemic revved up a super catalyst that sped up and intensified those changes.

Before I go on, there are a few things you might know about me that are worth emphasizing here. It’s not fun for me to dig in my stiletto heels and refuse to recognize that things are changing. Yearning for the good ‘ole days never worked for me. Embracing change and loving it has always worked for me. We can do anything we set our minds around once we embrace and step up to change. Playing to win comes naturally to me. That is the CEO mindset.

And for those of you who think that “change is hard” consider this: Once the U.S. recognized the global pandemic, the world changed overnight. It was a rapid shift. Within 30 days the entire world went virtual. Companies had no time to train employees in Zoom or Microsoft Teams or Blue Jeans or worry about how hard it would be to make the shift. Most of us simply figured it out. No one taught our teachers virtual learning methodologies or technology support. Mostly they learned it on their own and taught each other. Telemedicine spiked as a necessity allowing no learning curve time. Every parent figured out technical support for youngsters experiencing virtual learning.  OK, in some cases, kids taught their parents or learned to operate their own technology thereby bypassing parental oversight altogether. It is all tremendously exciting. Change does not have to be hard.  Matter of fact, most of us two X chromosome carriers handle change easily.

Back on track now about looking forward. Here are my most important thoughts on some top trends to embrace as you set the strategy for 2021 business planning. 2021 vision may appear foggy and unsteady yet keeping these trends at the core of your business strategy will surely set potential for more growth ahead of your peers and competitors. Here they are.

Top Trends to Consider in 2021 Planning

  1. The Rise of the Tech Savvy Remote Worker
  2. The Necessity of Employee Happiness and Engagement
  3. The Shift Toward an On-Demand At-Will Economy
  4. The Increasing Importance of Being Local and Green
  5. The Acceleration of E-Commerce and Social Commerce
  6. The Growth of Collaboration with Influencers
  7. Improved Personalized Omnichannel Experiences
  8. More Investment in Retail Technology
  9. Omnipresent Contactless Payment Systems
  10. Expanded Use of Smart Office Technology
  11. Ready for Prime Time 5G, Voice and AI

Over the next few weeks, I will be addressing each of these trends along with their underlying supporting facts. They are a necessity for high potential CEOs to embrace. Your vision aided with these facts and trends just might give you the competitive edge over competitors and peers. I’m here to support you and your business. We are all here to play to win. 

First up in my next blog will be The Rise of the Tech Savvy Worker and The Necessity of Employee Happiness and Engagement. 50% of American employees are now working remotely either part time or fully. Read my next blog where I examine these trends and why employee happiness needs to move to the top of the CEOs priorities moving into 2021.