The “roaring 2020s” are living up to their name — we’ve experienced a global health pandemic and accelerating effects of climate change. And we’re not even a year into the new decade! But with volatility comes opportunity. To seize the opportunities 2021 will bring, you’ll need a “never waste a good crisis” mentality, and you’ll need to be adaptive, creative, and resilient. Here are some of Forrester’s predictions for European business, customer experience, marketing, and technology leaders in 2021:

  • At least 10 firms will lose billions in brand equity because they’ll misread their customers’ complex behavior. Consumers want to use their purchases to further their values, such as protecting the environment and supporting their local communities, but the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis will force most to prioritize price. This reality will leave those consumers feeling frustrated, mistrustful, and disappointed in 2021, and they’ll thus exhibit contradictory behavior. These contradictions will make consumer marketers’ and customer experience leaders’ jobs harder, and some will misjudge what their customers want and drive them away. Conversely, brands such as Lidl and Intermarché that authentically combine low prices with support for the values that European consumers say they care about have an opportunity to win more customers.
  • More than one-third of white-collar European workers will continue working remotely — and in many cases, across national borders — full-time. Remote cross-border work will grow — and not just with European digital nomads working informally from tropical island beaches for a few months but with young professionals telecommuting from their childhood homes in Greece to their jobs in London for extended periods and similar scenarios. European firms will use employers of record, professional employer organizations, or combinations thereof to support those workers and comply with applicable labor and tax laws. Technology teams will spend to shore up the temporary remote-working infrastructure they threw up in response to the pandemic because they’ll need to continue supporting that remote workforce, plus others who head back home because of upticks in the number of coronavirus cases.
  • The European Parliament will abandon e-privacy reform but will draft new AI legislation. Forrester expects that the European Parliament will permanently shelve its long-delayed e-privacy reforms. However, because Google is ending support for third-party cookies in its browser and the advertising industry is embracing “cookie-less” approaches, the lack of updated e-privacy rules will have limited impact. But EU citizens’ demands for better regulation of artificial intelligence-based activities will drive the European Parliament to finalize a draft of AI legislation in 2021.

To understand the major dynamics that will impact European businesses next year, download Forrester’s complimentary Predictions guide.

To dive even deeper into what we see for the coming year, check out our Predictions 2021 complimentary webinar series and engage directly with the analysts who made the predictions.