2021 tech will be about cloud and the workplace shift

 2021 tech will be about cloud and the workplace shift

Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over, and it’s time to make some big predictions for 2021 — and to look back on how well I fared with my 2020 predictions.

It turns out, I was surprisingly on point with my 2020 predictions. And COVID seems to have played a substantial role there. Here is my report card for those:

Cloud kitchens

I predicted that cloud kitchens would become a multibillion dollar industry. While this trend was well on its way at the start of 2020, it wa somewhat helped by the pandemic.

CloudKitchens raised $700 million in 2019, but then REEF Technology closed $1 billion in November 2020, solidifying my prediction. Wendy’s also announced that it will open 250 cloud kitchens in India, making this trend global. Grade: A+

Meat substitute

I predicted that Gibson’s and Chicago Cut would serve Impossible Food’s meat substitute. I also said meat substitutes would penetrate over 10% of restaurants in the U.S. While I couldn’t find the exact data for this prediction (well, one research firm was charging over $5,000 for a report I didn’t want that badly), I did find that 24% of the U.S. population or 79.8 million people use meat alternatives. I say this gives me an “A”. Here is some additional research to support my case, but I’ll let you just read it instead of extending this paragraph. Grade: A

5G splutter

I predicted that 5G would splutter while looking for services that would make it a winner. I don’t hear a sputter, but I do hear crickets for 5G. Grade: A

Cashless world

I predicted we’d see a global movement towards cashlessness. Admittedly, I might have earned a B or a C on this one if not for the pandemic. Cashless businesses almost quadrupled in less than eight weeks after the pandemic began. According to Square, there was a jump in cashless businesses from 8% to 31% from the beginning of March 2020 to the end of April. The company defines a business to be cashless if 95% or more of its transactions come from debit and credit cards. Some more insights from the NYTimes. Grade: A

Now to my predictions for 2021…

Digital transformation will engulf over 40% of the Fortune 500

While the term “digital transformation” was probably born out of the back halls of McKinsey in an effort to charge clients for a lot of PowerPoint slides and stale diagrams, it is on the minds of many corporate executives. Jokes aside, it is a real strategy and a necessary approach to help companies still in the stone age of operations and product development to avoid becoming the future Blockbusters, Kodaks, and Blackberrys of the world.

Digital transformation is a broad term for changing a company’s products and operations into a digitalized format. This can be moving them online, automating them, or enhancing existing methods. An example would be to shift the majority of a commercial bank’s operations and interface with customers online and through mobile devices where most physical bank branches become obsolete. So I predict 40% of Fortune 500 companies will go through some major type of digital transformation project by the end of 2021.

Digital transformation does sounds like a phrase from the first internet boom (1990s) repurposed for the 2020s. So you’ve probably heard it enough already; but it will reverberate throughout 2021, so get ready.

Cloud market will double to $200 billion

The cloud market is like the “cousin of digital transformation”; it’s related but not directly related. The pandemic has made the switch to cloud computing more critical for companies.

There are different methods to gauge the size of the cloud market, but I will keep things simple and go with the above estimate of $100 billion. So by the end of 2021, I predict this market will become $200 billion in all. This would be driven by the increased trust of cloud services, expotential growth of data and data usage across industries, and the speed and scale that the cloud provides for these changing market dynamics.

Workplace shifts to productivity versus culture

I hope and assume we will come out of this pandemic during the second half of 2021. Recently a Gartner survey had 47% of “company leaders” stating that they will allow employees to work remotely full time going forward. I don’t believe corporate managers will stick with their promise of letting their employees permanently work from home. I’m not here to predict how much this will decrease from this initial survey, but let’s say it will be down to a third.

I do believe there will be a shift towards accepting partial remote work and, more importantly, a shift from facetime at the office, company gossip, and long coffee breaks to increased focus on productivity and output. It will matter less how many hours you are perceived to be working and more how much you’ve actually accomplished.

I don’t know how to measure quantify this prediction, but let’s see what comes out by the end of the year.

DisneyPlus will acquire 20% of the streaming market

My personal biases might be clouding my judgement on this one, but the upcoming slate of DisneyPlus TV shows made me giddy like when I was 6 and discovered that frosted Pop-Tarts were considered breakfast food: Andor TV series, Ahsoka series, The Book of Boba Fett series, Loki series, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series, and more.

DisneyPlus currently holds approximately 6% of the streaming market, arguably based on one series, The Mandalorian. After this blitzkrieg of TV goodness, I predict DisneyPlus will hit 20% of the streaming market by year’s end.

This is my brief wrap of my predictions for 2021. Have a great year!

Bernard Moon is cofounder and Partner at SparkLabs Group, a network of accelerators and venture capital funds.

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