If 2020 was the year of the pivot, then 2021 was the year of reality. For many businesses, this year cemented behaviours and habits born out of the reality of operating during a global pandemic; with many permanently adopting a new environment and accelerating technologies to meet the needs of both their customers and employees. 

The media was dominated by articles hailing the benefits and pitfalls of remote working, and organisations juggling the rapid rise of digitalisation without the overseas talent they have come to rely on. 

As the sun sets on another year impacted by the pandemic, will we see lasting change or short-term shifts? Here we take a look at the top ten trends that dominated 2021 and what 2022 could look like. 

 

Let’s talk talent 

Or lack of it. The talent shortage in New Zealand, a symptom of closed borders and homegrown talent venturing overseas, has put additional pressure on teams who’re working hard to keep up with the pace of demand from customers turning to digital for every facet of their business. A creative solution that offers numerous benefits is building out your team overseas. Here at ClearPoint we have successfully expanded with a team in South Africa and Australia. This also enables your business to consider its operations with round the clock resources to meet the needs of your clients or customers. Here’s how we’ve handled it, and helped our customers do the same.

Seamless interaction

We don’t need to tell you that an omni-channel approach is important, but with digitisation becoming a priority in most organisations, it needs a new lens. The importance of seamless transactions is more important than ever, particularly in this mobile age (see next point) and our clients are making it a priority to ensure every touch point has relevance and context. 

Mobile first 

The increase in mobile as a primary device soared this year, taking out a massive chunk of the total percentage of the digital audience. With apps becoming more sophisticated and brands harnessing the demand for ‘everything in one place’, mobile teams have evolved and grown. See how we helped our client Countdown support their customers with a complete mobile online shopping experience. Consumers want to find everything in a touch, not a click and we expect to see this trend continue and dominate 2022. 

Innovation in E-commerce

Lockdowns across the globe created a huge demand for services like click and collect and online shopping, forcing retailers to invest in technology and reconsider the importance of customer service for the digital customer. The interaction between IT and customer service teams has never been more important, with problem solving and issue escalation a priority for many, as loyalty declines and convenience and competitive prices become a mainstay. Check out how ClearPoint customer Contact Energy evolved to provide exceptional customer service 

Living with legacy

The global pandemic exposed holes and flaws in enterprise operations, slowing down and often bringing a halt to the traditional way of doing business. Innovation and regulation have never been more important at a time when for many, recovery remains a focus. The challenge with the growing demand in digital and the exciting opportunities it offers is legacy core systems hampering expansion. One of the top jobs for ClearPoint in 20/21 has been driving the modernisation of these legacy systems to make them compatible with today’s modern consumer. However, transformation isn’t simply about designing digital customer journeys, but also about reducing risk and regulatory compliance. The pandemic has illustrated that the speed of change is fast and compliance is crucial; holding onto the ghost of the past is both costly and risky. 

Advancing with AI

For a couple of years now, organisations have leaned into the many benefits of AI and machine learning, particularly for customer service. However, this year has seen a rise in the adoption of AI that supports the broader mechanics of the business, from the automation of data and reports, to managing retail stock and generating code. While chatbots remain incredibly useful, the use of more generative AI and machine learning will progress as business conditions and familiarity with this technology continue to shape the landscape. 

Cloud and data strategies 

The rise of cloud resources across multiple cloud services and infrastructures is common in most enterprise organisations these days, but strategies are in short supply. There are numerous questions to ask when building out a strategy: how do you store and replicate data in a cost efficient way?  How do you prevent data from being locked in a specific environment or application? An effective data strategy can streamline your operations; while an ineffective or non-existent one can make a company less agile and open to brand damaging breaches. With the growth of mobile and e-commerce through 20/21, the need for a strategy has never been more important. Make it a priority in 2022. 

Securing the foundations 

As we continue to complete almost every life transaction online; from vaccine passports and Telehealth, to online banking, online shopping and storing photos, the more exposed we are to the possibility of cyber attacks and fraud. The events of 2021 paved the way for a surge in online activity, a trend which will likely continue with the rise of the metaverse. Depending on your business, the type of data you hold will vary, but when it comes to protecting valuable information, it pays to have a strategy in place. We worked with organisations to shore up their governance frameworks, enable fit for purpose CIAM solutions and integrate their security protocol with data and cloud strategies and 2022 looks set to be even busier. As the keeper of data, you’re not simply responsible for securing it, but demonstrating how it’s used, where it lives and how it’s processed – not always easy in a multi-cloud environment.

Hybrid is here to stay 

As mentioned previously, hybrid working is here to stay and has transitioned from being the preserve of startups, to the reality of enterprise organisations with thousands of employees. Once considered a nice-to-have or perk of working in a young, trendy business, hybrid working is now baked into contracts and a selling point for employers. While it provides huge benefits for employees who want a more flexible lifestyle that also reduces both the cost and time of a commute, it is complex for employers who need to navigate technology, hardware, health and safety, culture and the needs of their clients or customers. At ClearPoint we embrace the evolution of flexible working which was hastened by the global lockdowns, with businesses cobbling solutions together to stay afloat during a turbulent period. 2021 was a period of innovation that will spill over into 2022 with gusto. Combined with a shortage of talent, candidates have the upper hand and employers need to be prepared with both the tech and the policies that make hybrid working the norm in their organisation. 

 

For many businesses the lengthy lockdown and traffic light system continues to present challenges, but as we have witnessed with the ability to pivot at scale and pace: disruption is also the catalyst for innovation. The resourcefulness and agility displayed by organisations for the past couple of years has demonstrated the power technology and adapting can have. 

Although trends come and go, reputation, trust and loyalty remain – so it’s crucial to remain ahead of the game in these uncertain and competitive times. If you’d like to talk with us about your needs or how you see these trends fitting within your organisation, we’d love to help – get in touch here