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Scrum Ventures 2021 Predictions: The Top Trends in The Digital Workplace, Retail and Sports

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

The Top Trends in The Digital Workplace, Retail and Sports

By Ryan Mendoza, Partner, Scrum Ventures

Looking ahead to 2021, the changes that we experienced as a result of the global pandemic will continue to impact our lives. As the world becomes more digital, the way we work, shop, play and sleep has changed at a pace we previously never would have believed possible - which presents new opportunities for the future.

In 2021, I believe there will be a number of new technology innovations that will impact the enterprise and our daily lives. Retail will need to adopt technology to convince customers to shop and purchase products, the automation will accelerate efficiency in the workplace, and esports will rise the ranks in popularity with today's youth - just to name a few.

Below are some thoughts from myself and my colleague on the key trends that will shape the New Year:

Ryan Mendoza, Partner

Ryan Mendoza 

AI/R gains more speed in retail

The great migration from in store to online shopping brought on by COVID-19 leaves ample room for technology intervention to improve the customer experience, retain happier customers, and lower acquisition costs. AI and AR both will become prolific and mainstream in 2021, so expect to see more digitized efforts from the largest brick and mortars to smaller boutique shops. This tech will be used across many functions from customer and sales support, personalized experiences and marketing, and product visualization, and those retailers that don't jump on this bandwagon will be left behind in the dust.

Accelerated automation in the digital workplace

Automation has been a buzz word for years now, but with the digital transformation of the workplace, 2021 will bring in new technologies and companies with a vertical focus will improve the efficiency of how we work by automating mundane tasks and operationalizing the acquisition and use of data.

The ‘work from anywhere' mindset brings in new tech and services:

 As we get more accustomed and ingrained with remote work in 2021, we'll start to see a migration to working from anywhere, not just the home office. The location of employees and where work is done will become less important, so tech and tools will need to travel too. The behaviors we will see will be anything from employees working in short term coworking rentals to long work vacations. These longer ~ 3-month work vacations will drive demand for Airbnb and a greater need for more work capabilities within the rentals, thus driving Airbnb as a platform for other businesses to offer new products within rentals.

Michael Proman, Managing Director

Michael Proman 

Don't sleep on sleep (tech)

As rest and recovery becomes even more critical to high intensity, at-home workouts (along with mental stability and immune health), the next chapter of the stay-at-home economy will be investing in how we recharge. Look no further than Sleep Number's stock price over the last 6 months -- a 200% increase: consumers are increasingly looking for a better night's rest and tech can play a massive role in providing personalized solutions that address an increasingly large market opportunity.     

Traditional youth sports participation is declining at historic levels... so where are these kids spending their time?

They may be too young to be day-trading on Robinhood or legally betting on sports, but they are becoming avid gamers. Factor in a cold, dark winter and consumption will only pick up -- adding pressure to high-school sports leagues to formally recognize eSports as a legitimate (sanctioned) extra-curricular activity. In a time where colleges and universities are cutting sports to reduce costs, we might not be too far away from the day they start adding them back with an immediate focus on eSports. "Signing Day" on ESPN could look a lot different very soon!     

With cities and states haemorrhaging cash and slashing budgets, could legalized gambling be part of the economic turn-around?

Coming from a state that could use the revenue, I'll answer that in the most Minnesota-appropriate way: you betcha! The pandemic will accelerate legalization and create new opportunities in 2021 for tech to reach and convert casual bettors in the same way that teams, leagues and properties are determined to connect with occasional fans.

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Published Wednesday, December 23, 2020 8:50 AM by David Marshall
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