Predictions 2021: Make It the Year of the Customer

I really enjoyed participating in the Splunk 2021 Predictions project, which launches today. Especially this year, we’ve all spent so much time figuring out how to just get through the day, it was a pleasure to look out to the future. 

What makes the predictions discussion interesting this year is the double-barreled doubling down on digital transformation. We were already at the cusp of a new Data Age as 2020 dawned. Years of digital innovation and disruption had created a world of deeply connected, data-rich technologies that were changing how we live and work, and transforming economies around the world. On top of that, the sudden arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic forced every organization to think digitally. Digital transactions, digital collaboration … even the most forward-thinking, modern organizations weren’t expecting to go all-virtual, all at once. Yet those that could adapt in this way were the most fortunate.

As I offered my thoughts on what the near future holds for data-driven technologies, what struck me most is how organizations right now have to balance two perhaps contradictory impulses: Because digital transformation is in overdrive, investing in modernization is essential, both to survive in the moment and stay competitive in the longer term. Yet in many industries, leaders hesitate to commit resources that are scarce, thanks to uncertainty or lost revenue.

Our four-part predictions report covers trends in IT operations (DevOps, observability, etc.), in data security (zero trust, new attack vectors, and more), and such emerging technologies as AI/ML, 5G, blockchain and AR/VR. But it was in the executive report that we had to answer that overarching question: How do you invest for a faster-moving future when today’s reality can be paralyzing?

The answer, coming from me, won’t be surprising: Focus on the customer. In an environment when you are under pressure to be change-resistant and fiscally conservative, while at the same time needing to boldly modernize just to keep up, I think the overriding priority must be the customer: Does this investment, this commitment of resources, get me closer to my customer? Does it help me serve them better? Does it help me know them better? Does it provide internal or back-end efficiencies that will let me make meaningful improvements for my customer?

This year’s Predictions reports — Data Security, IT Operations, Emerging Technology, and our Executive Report on leadership — survey more than a dozen senior leaders and technology experts at Splunk and tackle everything from effective crisis communication to the future of remote talent to trends in 5G, observability, DevOps, artificial intelligence, Zero Trust, and AR/VR. They’ll help any organization navigate the turbulent year ahead, especially if they keep their eye on the ultimate destination: a more successful customer experience.

Get all the Splunk 2021 Predictions here.

John Sabino

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