How Accurate Were Our Predictions For 2021?
Every Q4, Forrester releases our predictions for the year ahead. We share our perspective on what clients can expect and how they can respond to dynamics impacting everything from marketing strategy to the adoption of emerging technologies. But just how accurate are our predictions?
As we prepare to kick off Predictions 2022 on Tuesday, October 26, we reviewed our predictions for 2021. The punchline: We got it mostly right. And we missed a few, too. Here’s a look at the biggest hits and misses from our predictions for 2021.
The prediction: Physical events will reemerge with a new digital dimension.
The reality: Hybrid events — where attendees can choose between physical and digital options — became common in mid-2021 as lockdowns eased. Although the Delta variant has caused another wave of in-person B2B marketing event cancellations, the hybrid model was successful for many companies and likely to reemerge as public health conditions allow.
The prediction: Spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30%.
The reality: We accurately predicted that brands would invest in dynamic, revenue-driving loyalty programs after seeing the successes of loyalty-focused direct-to-consumer companies such as Brooklinen. Plus, Google’s data deprecation plan has marketers looking for new ways to collect consumer data — and loyalty programs are a treasure trove of zero-party data.
The prediction: CIOs who enable “work from anywhere” will be beacons for talent in real and virtual worlds.
The reality: White-collar workers have embraced anywhere-work because of lifestyle advantages (e.g., no commute) and persistent contagion fears. Employee experience leaders like Google have committed to the hybrid workweek. (Forrester is also moving to a hybrid workweek.)
Companies that have pushed workers to return to the office full-time – whether due to technical issues, culture concerns, or other factors — have found themselves on the receiving end of “the great resignation.” A tight job market means employees won’t stick around if wrangled into an undesirable situation, with 40% of one survey’s respondents saying they’ll quit if forced to go back to the office full-time.
The prediction: [Consumers will] invest in expanding and fortifying their homes.
The reality: Housing prices hit record levels in Asia, North America, and much of Europe as consumers sought more space during extended lockdowns and as remote work became the norm. Many consumers who stayed put took on renovation projects. European home improvement giant Kingfisher — owner of B&Q and Brico Dépôt, among other brands — saw a whopping 61% increase in Q1 sales year over year. In the US, DIY retailer The Home Depot saw Q2 sales grow an impressive 8.1% year over year.
The prediction: A fifth of enterprises will use commercial drones to automate business operations.
The reality: Although the commercial drone market grew 20.1% in 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has stymied drone adoption rates. Persistent supply chain issues for everything from paper to shipping containers have taken over logistics professionals’ agendas. Innovation efforts (like expanding drone operations) have had to take a back seat as logistics professionals struggle to maintain basic operations. The computer chip shortage has also reduced production of drones themselves.
The prediction: Consumers will flock to trusted brands for in-person experiences.
The reality: The Delta variant and lagging vaccination rates have put a damper on the return to in-person experiences. Consumers are wary about public events, and lockdowns have returned in some regions. Whether consumers will be excited to interact with trusted brands once pandemic conditions lessen again remains to be seen.
The prediction: Private 5G will push enterprises to the edge.
This prediction was mostly right. The internet of things (IoT) is an exploding category, and the expanding number of use cases is driving need for edge technologies. We predicted that private 5G networks would come to the forefront in 2021, however, because public providers would struggle to roll out their 5G IoT networks.
It’s true that 5G for IoT coverage offered by public providers — such as AT&T, Verizon, and Vodafone — is spotty and insufficient for many edge computing projects. We were a bit too aggressive in our prediction that enterprises would embrace private 5G for edge computing, however. We’ve seen some successes but not at the scale we predicted.
The prediction: The UK will become a “third country” for data protection matters in 2021.
The reality: Brexit negotiations were drawn-out and difficult. Many commentators doubted that EU regulators would give the UK a favorable data protection adequacy decision. A negative ruling would have made it illegal for EU citizens’ data to be processed in the UK. A favorable ruling was made, however, and the UK has achieved data protection adequacy status for at least the next four years.
We’ll unveil our predictions for 2022 starting on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. This year’s predictions are focused on helping you make confident, bold decisions in an uncertain world rife with disruptions and disruptors. Sign up to get an alert as soon as this year’s predictions are released.