Mid February 2021 brings us a cold weather wave in North America, where snow is falling in Texas and creating disruptions to the power grid, while vaccine distribution is proceeding apace across the developed world. Progress is steady, but vaccination rollouts are proceeding slowly enough that restrictions on travel, restaurants, live entertainment and large indoor events remain in place, though they are gradually easing.
There is growing economic optimism with the rollouts of vaccines. The International Monetary Fund raised its growth forecast for 2021 to 5.5% from its prior forecast of 5.2% in October, based on the belief that spread of COVID-19 vaccines will power a stronger global economic recovery following a decline of 3.5% in 2020, the worst year since World War II.
Expectations for digital growth drivers are shared in the C-suite, where digital transformation is a top priority. Findings from a new survey of over 200 CFOs by CFO Research and AppZen found that 61% remain optimistic about the future, expecting growth in 2021. 90% of respondents agreed that reducing manual, time-consuming processes was a priority, while 45% of respondents wish they had invested more in tech.
Digital transformation continues to accelerate, as businesses across all sectors ramp up expectations that an increasing proportion of revenues will come from digital business. A recent survey from Workday, “Organizational Agility At Scale: The Key to Digital Growth Drivers,” found that over one-third of firms now expect 75% or more of their revenue to come from digital efforts in three years’ time. For comparison, the percentage has tripled since 2019, when just one in 10 firms had the same expectation.
There is growing evidence that industries are confident about accelerating their transformation initiatives and enjoying higher profitability because of the pandemic and will continue to do so for business after the pandemic. A notable change is happening with the buying of automobiles. According to a recent survey by eLEND Solutions among auto dealers in the fourth quarter of 2020, “80% of auto dealers said the pandemic accelerated their adoption of digital path-to-purchase experiences, 90% say they expect to continue, or accelerate, digital growth retailing at their dealership and 31% of dealers said that their digital retail-initiated transactions resulted in a higher profit-per-vehicle retailed (PVR).
One of the unexpected challenges to clean energy reliance emerging from the record winter storms hitting the midwestern U.S. is that ice storms and freezing rain caused a large swath of wind turbines to grind to a halt, leading utilities to resort to rolling outages across 13 states in order to avoid blackouts. The challenges of maintaining consistent power generation across solar, wind, natural gas and oil sources in the face of unprecedented winter cold, hurricanes and summer heat waves remain an obstacle to the growing reliance on clean power sources.
The “newest normal” is likely to persist into 2021 and beyond as business after pandemic. As the new shape of the economy takes hold, businesses need to plan for change and uncertainty as we build the foundations for the business after pandemic future. Read our Digital Industry Predictions report for 2021 below.
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