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2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research


A year-end review by Singapore-based Blackbox Research highlights 10 key trends that were fast-tracked by the pandemic and will define 2021 and beyond.

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Across areas such as consumption, work, finance, society, and health, the review identifies a growing desire for ownership and control in these uncertain times.

Key trends include the decline of the public’s trust in institutions, new and diverse work dynamics, and the ineluctable digitalisation of financial services.

1. E-commerce exploded, but the experience falls short for new shoppers. Satisfaction levels were consistently low, calling e-commerce players to drastically improve user experiences.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

2. Shopping is now “click-and-mortar”, as modern retail blurs the digital divide. Consumers are growing impervious to binary channel segmentations, making it less about where a purchase journey begins and more about what drives a purchasing decision.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

3. “Work from home” will become “work from anywhere”. Working from home has become a key business continuity mechanism, redefining notions of workspace, collaboration, and productivity.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

4. Full-time work and career progression – what do they mean anymore? The pandemic is shifting labour dynamics in major ways, and that technology-driven innovation will play a major role in the future of workplace dynamics.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

5. Neo-banking is now on the horizon, not beyond it. The pandemic took fintech start-ups from the fringes of finance to mainstream name recognition.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

6. The financial advisor gets the app treatment. The pandemic has accelerated the rise of digital platforms for everything from financial advice to retirement planning.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

7. Health and well-being get up close and personal. The lockdowns are opening people’s eyes to health tech, driving them to spend more money on health-related products and services.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

8. Global anxiety hits the roof thanks to creeping germaphobia. The pandemic has turned many people into anxious germophobes – leading to record-breaking sales of cleaning and disinfecting products, as well as transforming the way we greet, mingle, and interact with one another.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

9. Many large institutions failed the litmus test for leadership. The pandemic revealed the limitations of many respected institutions, while people valued essential workers and frontline officials who dealt with the pandemic up-close.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

10. Rise of the Asian resilience model in crisis management. Asia-Pacific nations applauded their country’s handling of the crisis, while disappointment and resentment grew in Europe and the Americas.

2020 is the year that the future arrived early: Blackbox Research

David Black, founder and CEO of Blackbox Research, highlights the growing need for people to take greater ownership and control of everything from consumption, work, and finance to health and governance.

“The data shows that there is a marked desire for a greater sense of agency in these difficult times. People have changed the way they look after their own health, approach personal finance, navigate workplace dynamics, or even relate to governments and institutions. This has accelerated a lot of the technology, innovation, and mindset changes that we were not expecting to converge until a few years from now.”

THREE TRENDS TO NOTE IN 2021

Society: Public distrust in institutions will continue if they fail to act

The pandemic revealed the limitations of many respected institutions, from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to national governments and Fortune 500 companies. Most notably, data from Blackbox Research shows that 31 per cent of people felt that the WHO performed below expectations, and 36 per cent expressed the same sentiment towards the United Nations.

The data also reveals that people valued essential workers and frontline officials who dealt with the pandemic up-close – suggesting that organisations can overcome the trust gap by walking the talk, breaking away from superficial messaging, and by taking swift, tangible action.

Work: ‘Work from home’ to become ‘work from anywhere’

The lockdown has turned working from home from an occasional perk to a key business continuity mechanism – pushing businesses to redefine their notions of workspace, collaboration, and productivity. Data from Blackbox Research found that nine in 10 workers are not rushing to resume office life, having fully adapted to working remotely.

Beyond discussions on the new Zoom economy and how future home design will give rise to workspace planning, the rise of flexible work arrangements will have wider repercussions. Indeed, employers now have the ability to hire well beyond the cities in which they operate, making remote locations much more attractive than big cities where talent, taxes, and real estate are infamously expensive.

Finance: Future of banking is not just digital, it’s ‘digital-only’

The pandemic has accelerated the rise of digital platforms for everything from financial advice to retirement planning – shaking up the advisory industry as a whole. Blackbox data reveals a 6 to 8 per cent growth in the use of digital financial services platforms, suggesting that people may be hedging against future crises by taking more control over their finances.

In the next few years, financial advisors will need to step up their game by offering tailored, user-friendly, and automated digital services that make them stand out in the new world of online advice.

“The pandemic's most enduring impact will be its role as catalyst and accelerant,” says David Black. “As this year comes to a close, there is a sense of hope and opportunity – however tenuous – that comes with the dawning of 2021. It is up to us to figure out how we can build ourselves back up to not only survive, but thrive, in the new normal.”

“In order to emerge from the crisis stronger and more resilient, everyone – citizens, communities, businesses, and governments – needs to understand and anticipate the new dynamics that the pandemic has set in motion. We will explore this and other topics in our January webinar, which will cover what is to come for 2021 and how we can be prepared.”

Published : December 24, 2020

By : The Nation