The disruptive power of the COVID-19 pandemic is drastically changing the global business landscape. IT trend predictions for 2020 changed completely, taking a full 360-degree turn. No one could have seen what was coming, as it was impossible to predict.
The massive chain impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has colored almost all social and business arrangements throughout 2020. Many experts estimate that the pandemic will continue to impact everyday lives for the next 12 months or further into the future. Business leaders are starting to re-evaluate predictions for technological trends in 2021.
Telkomtelstra has also put special consideration into sharing its thoughts on how technology will drive change in 2021. At least five factors were considered by us in predicting the IT trends for 2021. The five trends include that:
1. Investment in digital technology will continue to surge
When predicting digital technology investments for 2020, no one suspected a global pandemic on such a massive scale. However, for better or worse, COVID-19 has rapidly and massively opened digital doors to various cross-sector perspectives in Indonesia. People are now embracing technology like never before in order to keep their business operations running, keep employees working and productive, ensure that children continue learning, and, not to forget, as a means of entertainment when tired.
It is interesting to note that the digitalization of all aspects of life has encouraged companies to address digital transformation as not only a corporate innovation strategy, but as a key to organizational survival. With challenges related to COVID-19 still looming in 2021, we believe that many Indonesian companies will continue to advance with digital initiatives. In addition to being a means of “recovery”, digitalization will provide the momentum for long-term economic growth and put companies in a better position in relation to increasingly challenging market competition.
We can see for ourselves that digitalization has become a necessity for all companies in Indonesia currently in business. It is also a means of maintaining productivity and resilience against future crises and turbulence. Research from Telstra has shown that the majority of corporate executives in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, have identified IT resilience and security for business continuity as their top business priorities. In order to achieve this, they are investing heavily in unified communications, including video conferencing for remote operations, accelerating cloud adoption, and looking at role-based information and communications technology (ICT) solutions that combine automation and digital tools. Approximately 84% of business leaders in the Southeast Asian region see this as their top priority, surpassing the global average of 74%.
It is worth noting that although the opportunities are real, so are the challenges, especially in managing the cost of technological investments. Companies have faced challenges in searching for available technologies to assist their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the availability of qualified staff and limited budgets. It is, therefore, important to realize that a business continuity plan (BCP) needs to be developed before making significant investments, in order to establish a technological strategy, select suitable and efficient technologies, and set goals to minimize costs and risks.
2. Cyber security will boom in Indonesia
Since 2019, experts have predicted that security technology will become an important and necessary investment for organizations in Indonesia, and their predictions have proven correct. Due to the pandemic, the use of security technology has become a key component in current business operations.
The pandemic has prompted many companies to move their services online. However, some see this step as being rushed, meaning that all of the necessary steps may not have been taken to ensure that client data is guaranteed to be properly protected.
In addition, increasing reliance on digital tools, including virtual meeting platforms, coupled with reliance on personal devices, is fueling a more chronic vulnerability to data hacking than ever before. Real threats include business email hacking and phishing schemes, and ransomware attacks.
There is no doubt that in 2021 organizations will have to more regularly check for security gaps in their systems and applications, after moving most operations to the digital environment. This is an essential part of the organizational performance evaluation process. Organizations must develop adaptive and resilient digital security practices to meet the new demands of digital business. Organizations will also use security assessment methods increasingly often, including vulnerability assessments and penetration tests.
The cybersecurity budget has been increasing continually year to year since before the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The growing threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak will only heighten the trend of greater business investment in corporate security protections.
3. Digitalization is not only about connecting to the cloud, but also about expanding associated infrastructure
As organizations in Indonesia continue to migrate to the cloud, one of the key challenges is ensuring their networks have the capacity to cope with the operational load of network traffic. This challenge must urgently be addressed, especially in the midst of the pandemic with more business applications being developed and employees operating remotely.
When companies move to the cloud and expand their networks, they may experience operational challenges, including network overload and possible service outages. Business-critical applications in the cloud, for example VoIP calling, video conferencing, media streaming, and desktop virtualization, in particular, require good latency.
Running multiple SaaS (Software as a Service) applications on a network can expose companies to unexpected capacity issues. To avoid a decrease in application performance as a result of excess bandwidth, the need for advanced network infrastructure with SD-WAN will continue to increase in 2021.
Put simply, SD-WAN is a technology that provides a centralized way to configure and manage network traffic in the cloud environment. Most SD-WAN solutions can be automated; allowing administrators to pre-configure responses to various network scenarios and conditions, including in the event of traffic congestion issues, and network-specific link failures. These responses can be managed centrally, quickly, and easily.
In addition, real-time SD-WAN visibility into networks allows administrators to remotely monitor and manage the network performance and bandwidth consumption of various sites; which of course reduces the need to send technicians to branch office locations.
4. Applications will continue to grow rapidly
The use of online education and meeting applications will develop much more rapidly than before, with the world adjusting to the tempo of life during the pandemic. Virtual meetings have brought an element of normality to work life. One company in the industry has seen its share price surge more than 100% in just two months. Furthermore, with its online meeting solution, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft experienced a jump in usage from 32 million to 44 million in March 2020. It is also not likely that the use of work collaboration applications, particularly virtual meetings, will simply disappear as life returns to normal after the pandemic.
Although the Indonesian government plans to restore face-to-face teaching activities in early 2021, many schools and universities appear committed to strengthening online learning methods using collaborative education solutions and applications to guarantee the health and safety of teachers and students. It is not only formal education providers that are turning to online platforms. Large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in recent months have also encouraged many Indonesians to try and master new skills using various education-related applications. we predict that this enthusiasm will continue to grow in 2021, not only to gain knowledge, but also to obtain higher qualifications for the job market.
E-commerce services and delivery applications will continue to benefit during the pandemic recovery period. Due to the fact that many offices allow employees to continue working remotely, online orders are the most effective way to shop, especially for non-primary needs. Data from McKinsey has revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce sales have risen 26 percent to 3.1 million transactions per day, which in turn drives the need for delivery services.
5. More and more businesses are turning to a digital omnichannel approach
Customer experience is an interesting element in these challenging times. With the pandemic hitting global businesses throughout 2020, many companies in Indonesia, particularly in the retail sector, have minimized or even closed their shops and moved their businesses online. As to be expected, many are still adapting to this new strategy in order to provide digitally-compliant customer service, and enhance the customer experience (CX) in a virtualized environment.
Moving on from this point, we expect that companies will focus more on providing a digital omnichannel CX in 2021 to ensure smooth customer relations and, of course, drive sales.
We are certain that in 2021 more Indonesian consumers will demand a precise, fast, and consistent customer experience with a personal touch when interacting with targeted companies using various digital devices. For example, a customer may start interacting with a company on Twitter and then continue the conversation through more private platforms, including email, chatbots on websites, or the company’s customer service channels. Customers in Indonesia increasingly expect a seamless and integrated experience, no matter what platform they use.
We predict that in 2021 companies will, therefore, focus on providing an appropriate omnichannel CX. This, of course, is to support them in integrating online and offline communication channels with customers from the first to the last point of contact. We will witness more businesses undergo digital transformation via investments related to customer engagement, for example cloud contact centers. Companies in Indonesia will strive to remove obstacles that arise along the customer’s journey, and ensure that they can continue to personalize their CX.