We are entering the third calendar year during which both business and technology will be shaped and influenced by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Both 2020 and 2021 could be analyzed and defined by how businesses and organizations responded to pandemic disruption. In 2020, the overarching theme was uncertainty, as companies responded to the fog of Covid-19 with a conservative approach to business and a hectic shift toward digital operations. This year, companies moved past uncertainty to focus on agility, working to take advantage of new trends and changing circumstances to improve their positioning.
As we move into 2022, businesses must accept the unpredictability of global pandemic trends as the new normal. Instead of trying to work through the fog of uncertainty, companies should use data and analytics to find clarity. This shift in mindset will allow forward-thinking businesses to move from a reactive approach to proactive strategies.
A renewed emphasis on data and analytics tied to business strategy will shape operations in a variety of ways, but these four areas are poised for major change:
1. Subscription-Based Business Models
It should come as no surprise that businesses are either adopting or modifying their subscription models to adjust to consumers’ shifting needs in the on-demand economy. Converting one-time customers into subscribers — regardless of the product or service being offered — means that a business can count on a reliable revenue stream instead of sporadic, unpredictable purchases. The subscription model proved particularly resilient during the early stages of Covid-19. According to Deloitte, 4 out of 5 subscription-based businesses sustained or increased their customer base since the start of the pandemic.
While the pandemic provided major tailwinds for many subscription-based companies, some are now facing the headwinds of churn as consumers re-evaluate the value and volume of their paid subscriptions. There is a significant opportunity for companies to leverage data to deliver a more personalized experience, ranging from communications and marketing approaches to the products or services included in the subscription. Delivering a tailored experience ensures that customers see value in their investment and are incentivized to increase their engagement with the brand.
2. Supply Chain Strategy Shifts
Stories of supply chain disruption have dominated this year’s holiday shopping season, and we should expect this to continue in early 2022. Companies can no longer rely on a small number of massive fulfillment centers to meet customer demand; instead, businesses will increasingly rely on data and supply chain analytics to better understand how they can serve their customers from several smaller, localized fulfillment centers. Images like the stranded Ever Given and dozens of container ships stalled off the coast of California came to define 2021. Expect businesses to respond with a much more agile supply chain approach in 2022.
If it feels like the supply chain burst onto the scene as a trending topic in 2021, you’re not alone in that feeling. Companies are working to quickly identify the tools that will help them weather the storm heading into 2022, but data-backed tools for supply chain management (including AI solutions and geographic information systems) have yet to be widely adopted.
3. B2B Sales Enablement Tools
As data practices grow and mature, we can expect to see more data-backed tools expand and be leveraged by those in B2B sales. This expansion is backed by investment, with major funding rounds like Apollo.io’s $32 million Series B serving as proof points for the growing interest in advanced sales enablement solutions.
As business leaders look to apply new technology to their sales and marketing processes, we should see more collaboration between business units that have traditionally been siloed. For example, business leaders and data specialists are now working together to identify new opportunities, then building tailored models that can help optimize goal-oriented operations as prospects move into the funnel and along the customer journey. Data-backed B2B sales enablement can improve decision-making and investment allocations, making each campaign more effective and efficient in the process.
4. Digital Marketing Optimization
One overarching theme that unites each of the trends on this list is a shift toward personalization. Consumers have more choices than ever before, giving them the power to determine which companies succeed or fail. Companies can position themselves for success in this environment by doubling down on customer data, using analytics and nuanced messaging to meet customers with the right message at the right moment. In 2022, expect successful companies to move away from a volume-based approach and focus instead on tact and precision.
Of course, delivering the perfect personalized message is easier said than done. Over the past year, this challenge became even more daunting due to the demise of third-party cookies and changes to privacy settings for iOS users. To compensate, brands need to lean into their own first-party data, putting in the work to collect, organize and analyze their valuable resources to drive success.
Committing To Clarity In 2022
Over the past two months, we’ve seen countries in Europe and Asia alternate between a sense of normalcy and renewed lockdowns. Many U.S. states are encouraging residents to get an additional booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while less developed countries work to get citizens vaccinated for the first time. These disparate situations should illustrate the point that 2022 will be another year of unpredictability — with knock-on effects for global competition, demand, and logistics.
But while industries will be affected by sudden changes, that doesn’t mean all businesses will have to operate from a position of instability. Taking a dedicated approach to data collection and analysis provides organizations with the clarity to cut through the fog and make educated decisions. Big data makes it possible for businesses to identify trends even from seemingly random or chaotic events. When new policies or supply chain disruptions impact a company’s operations, real-time data resources can allow them to adjust their predictions and ensure continued success. For businesses that invest wisely in their data solutions, 2022 will be a year of personalization, clarity, and reliability.