Tired of generic 2021 predictions about remote work, cloud, and data? Here are 10 specific trends to consider in your growth strategy:
1. EMBEDDED AUDIO
VCs like a16z are hyping the next generation of social media platforms Clubhouse, Chalk and Locker Room, which allow hopping around audio chatrooms, supposedly more like real-life socializing.
Unlike much of social media, which just shows the highlights—the amazing travel adventures, the huge mansions and cars, fitness influencers, or people with amazing dance skills—audio hits different. Listening to someone’s voice is personal, and hearing unedited audio is the opposite of seeing the highlights. It’s about ideas, not the visuals, so it emphasizes a different kind of content that can often feel deeper and more intellectually stimulating. [...]
But this trend is not just for social media platforms. Brands of all kinds are enhancing engagement with their platforms through embedded audio experiences powered by technology like WebRTC that has now matured for widespread use.
2. SUPPLY-CHAIN SECURITY
A company is only as secure as its weakest link. But what if the weakest link isn't at the company at all, but rather one of its third-party suppliers?
This was the case with Target in 2015, that suffered a massive data breach when malicious actors got into Target's system via one of its suppliers, a mom-and-pop HVAC cleaner. More recently it was the case when the US Treasury Board was compromised via its supplier, SolarWinds.
In a recent survey 60% of companies reported being on the receiving end of a supply-chain attack, often the root cause of major data breaches.
Solving the problem is a massive market opportunity for software vendors and IS professionals.
3. SAAS TECHS CHARGING FOR CONSUMPTION
Instead of the traditional fixed monthly subscription fee, SaaS companies are starting to charge by transaction, by minute of usage, by volume, etc.
Users might be charged based on the number of subscribers reached or API calls requested. If you have a month where you use a product less, you spend less, and vice versa. For example, Twilio’s SMS service scales up “whether you need 1 or 100,000 numbers.” Zapier charges a traditional fixed monthly fee, but if you exceed the limit of your plan, then you pay for the overage based on consumption.
Usage-based pricing can be a win-win for customers and companies, attracting customers with flexible pay-as-you-go options and allowing companies to access a fuller range of customers at any price point and need.
4. SAAS COMPANIES BECOMING PAYMENT PROCESSORS
Companies that have no connection to the financial world - Mindbody (fitness), ServiceTitan (HVAC, plumbing), WonderSchool (daycare), Jobber (lawncare, painting) - are already making more revenue from online payments and other financial services than they do from their core software subscription revenue.
Like AWS but for fintech, new fintech infrastructure companies have made it possible for SaaS businesses to add financial services alongside their core software product.
By adding fintech, SaaS businesses can increase revenue per customer by 2-5x.
In our hypothetical above, a vertical SaaS company that adds, or even embeds, financial products, can potentially 5x the revenue per customer from the $200/month software spend to the full $1000/month for software and services.
5. SAAS COMPANIES UPSELLING INSURANCE
Traditional insurance is highly inconvenient: I purchase my asset (house, car, lease on an office), but then I have to go somewhere else to buy insurance. It would be natural and highly advantageous to be able to embed insurance at the point of purchase. “Insurtechs” are able to better acquire customers (“would you like some insurance with that?”) and better select risk by leveraging the data of the hosting SaaS platform.
In 2021, we will see insurtechs built in a way that makes them more easily embeddable (fast to bind, able to leverage the platform’s data for underwriting), more infrastructure companies that enable insurtechs to spin up faster, and more platforms looking for insurance partners.
6. NEW PLATFORMS ENABLING WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING
Promotion on Google and Facebook is more crowded and less cost effective. Word of Mouth becomes even more critical to drive user growth."
Discovery of a business outside of these search giants is therefore an obvious trend. One example from Vox:
Shopify knows this, and has started to tiptoe its way toward creating its own online marketplace to help online shoppers discover Shopify merchants by transforming a package-tracking app it already owned, previously called Arrive, into an app with more of a shopping focus. It’s now called, naturally, Shop."
7. AZURE GROWS FASTER THAN AWS, AGAIN
Due to MS bundling and growing anti-Amazon sentiment. Do we need to say more?
Remember 2017? You couldn't go a day without hearing about Blockchain. Then we went into the "trough of disillusionment". As the tech matures and more prototypes, Dapps and DeFi's go into production, global interest is coming back to drive the trend of decentralization.
From the Pomp Letter:
If you think about this, we may see the repeat of the 1990s equivalent. In the 1990s, you made a lot of money if you took existing businesses in the analog world and brought them online. In the 2020s, you are probably going to make a lot of money if you take existing businesses and figure out how to build decentralized versions."
9. DATA PRIVACY
Forrester's top cyber prediction for 2021: insider threats on the rise +25%. The term "insider threat" conjures up Hollywood images of malicious hackers on the inside exfiltrating data for profit. The reality is that most insider threats are like you and me! ACCIDENTAL insider threats that innocently place data into vulnerable locations all the time, without even realizing it.
It's so easy to be an insider threat, and the reason is that data privacy is just so poor. There's a reason why we even have a dedicated "data privacy day" each year! Between failing security awareness, technology, and standards, this insidious problem is going to get worse before it gets better. It represents a huge market opportunity for innovators, whether sellers of data privacy technology, or simply products looking to differentiate by making their customers' data privacy a priority.
10. B2A (BUSINESS-2-ALGORITHM) PURCHASING ON BEHALF OF THE CUSTOMER
Consumer trend forecaster David Mattin notes:
Millions are already happy to let Spotify take charge of their music experience. Now, expect that mindset to spread to products and services, too.
To serve B2A expectations:
1. Build an algorithm. B2A expectations are all about automating aspects of the customer journey. Can you create a service that does just that? See how the DoNotPay chatbot will scan user emails to cancel subscriptions and get refunds. Or how Tesla cars can now self-diagnose and automatically order needed parts.
2. Circumvent the algorithms: If consumers are to forgo the convenience of automated commerce and seek you out, then they’ll need a powerful reason (e.g. meaningful purpose or sense of community)