Forest for the trees: Some outlandish predictions for 2021

The week between Christmas and New Year is always difficult. Most of us are huddled at home, in hiding and pretending the world has stopped for a week.

For some, this year, with COVID levels continuing to rise, has of course been a little different. NHS and medical workers in particular… not to mentioned the race to finalize to legislate an EU trade for the UK, covering post-Brexit transition period rules.

Yes it has been busy for a few, but the rest of us? Finishing mince pies, the leftover turkey and trying to walk it all off with COVID safe trails has been the order of the day.

With the year now about to start, now is a good time to think about the year ahead. I have always enjoyed new year predictions. Last year these ranged from startlingly accurate to ones that were just plain more fun (those for 2021 are here).

So, with no pretensions of being correct, here are some additional predictions, for 2021. A couple outlandish and couple I hope are wrong already…!

  • COVID pandemic continues: Despite optimism with news vaccines, challenges with supply chains, medical staffing levels, and a constantly evolving virus will mean we do not return to our previous normality this year. Whilst there will be a respite in the summer, our current 2020 reality will largely be our new reality. Our infrastructure, business environment, and social structures will all continue to adapt, meaning we will manage better this year than last, but there will be a fundamental shift to new ways of doing things…. redesign your business for the new reality today (and book a summer holiday)
  • Increasing Unemployment: As the effects from the pandemic become embedded and lengthened, stimulus support will wain and unemployment will rise. Hospitality and travel have been hard hit it the first wave, and they will likely be now quick to adapt and bounce back in modified forms. Financial services, and public sector, largely unscathed to now, will however feel further deeper impacts in 2021, with increased credit losses and spending cuts impacting these businesses… time to think, transformation and reengineering
  • Call Centres, a new dawn: Despite the focus on digital and integration, the need for human contact will never be greater. Human to human contact will be seen to be irreplaceable. We may even see the regulator stepping in with more recommendations, driven by case examples and discussion papers…. optimise blending digital with human interaction, solve for the best customer outcome
  • More political turmoil: With such dramatic change in 2020, seemingly now settled, we would expect a quieter 2021. Not so. The UK will continue to have mini deals with the EU throughout the year. There will be continued points of division and effects from the new deal ripple through the economy. The current UK PM will step down, touting ‘job done’, only being replaced by a candidate that splits the party and results in a new general election. The Vice President could also become President in the USA too. We need to wait until 2022 for things to settle here… keep our heads down, keep up to date on changes and stay ahead
  • Cyber Attack: There has been increasingly cyber fraud and hacking activity visible throughout 2020 (with the SolarWinds compromise causing particular concern). A wide-scale, infrastructure-related, attack is likely forcing another ‘black swan’ event on the global economy (and crashing markets)… grab your tin foil hat and make sure you have a plan for long-tail risks

So, some of these are outlandish, and hopefully some (most) are wrong. They do not seem very optimistic in what we hope is a better year than 2020.

“Plan for the worse, hope for the best” is a good motto here. Most of these are plannable and therefore manageable to mitigate risks. This would be in stark contrast to last year.

On balance 2021 will likely be just fine. With the help of friends, family and colleagues we will be alright. We will learn new skills and fine new enjoyment in unexpected places… this certainly happened in 2020 and there is no reason it cannot happen this year, no matter what happens.

All the best for 2021….

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Good things from 2020

We are nearly there, the end of 2020… hooray. It was a challenging year for sure.

It is now nearly the New Year and undoubtedly the time to be more optimistic, despite the news. So as we leave the year here are a few of the good things, on reflection, we discovered in 2020.

  1. Videos Calls. It was a year we all got used to video calls. I know they are not new, but we found just how easy it is to connect, catching up with old friends and colleagues from all around the world. A delight.
  2. Reduced commute and travel time. Exactly how much time did we spend in the car or on the train commuting to another city before? This time has been regained for family, for friends, exercise, education or just chilling… a real bonus for this year.
  3. Empathy for vulnerable customers and those in financial difficulty. This crisis has impacted many of us and many of those we know, in many ways. We all now have a better understanding of customers working through hard times and hopefully how to better now support. Must be positive.
  4. Digital Infrastructure Investment. This year felt like a turning point, where digital servicing became a new necessity and investments made to create digital customer journey’s. Hopefully extra future capability for us all.
  5. Digital medicine. Hopefully largely gone are the days of doctors waiting rooms or taking a half-day for a hospital consultation, we now (sometimes) have the option of a video or telephone call. Time saved, significant.
  6. Navigating the data. Developing skills to better navigate ONS data online, searching and reviewing the data behind the headlines has been super helpful (for me at least)… there is a wealth of data available, amazing.
  7. Local community. With less travel and less rushing about, we have all definitely spent more time at home, talking with and relying on those around us. Rediscovering and helping the local community has been great.
  8. Jokes and Memes. Messaging and WhatsApp groups have been the place to be this year. The jokes and fun videos have made us all laugh… very funny and great light relief from the news.
  9. Online Shopping. Groceries to the door, click and collect… if you can, time saved and it works! It was also a delight to have home baking again. Tasted great too (esp the Pain au Chocolat.. I may have mentioned that before!)
  10. Toilet roll. None of us, ever, will run out of toilet roll again. We now fully understand its global strategic importance… enough said!

Best wishes for 2021 everyone

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A very merry digital virtual Christmas

Friday was of course Christmas Day in the UK. With some of us plunged into the purgatory of lockdown, before or after, it felt different this year… dare I admit, actually a little less stressful, less rushing about and more relaxing… still some observations from the week.

  • Spending time on video calls with family and friends this year, the big question was – MSTeams or Zoom? We picked the one associated less with work (Zoom it turned out). How quickly this has evolved, different apps for different purposes… feels even work-life balance is going digital now.
  • My cat, who is of course not digital, is now on a diet. She cut a forlorn figure these festivities spending nearly the entire time hoovering the kitchen for potential treats or turkey snacks… I worry it is a premonition of my post Christmas future, on a diet, searching the bottom of the freezer for bits of pizza… time to skip the next mince pie!
  • Lastly, I have been still reviewing the news this week. Workwise the news has been rather quieter than I ever remember (Brexit excepted)… Were we all exhausted and really needed the break? We certainly seem to have made the most of it… and still a few more days too.

Best wishes everyone, have a good rest of 2020… @chris_w_tweet

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