Forrester European Predictions 2021 round-up

According to the report from Forrester, European organisations will look to double down on tech-fueled experiences, operations, products, and ecosystems in 2021, with digitally advanced firms gaining an advantage over competitors.

Analysing various business dynamics, such as evolving customer behaviours, employee experience and privacy, the study explores how companies and tech leaders across Europe will continue its recovery from the pandemic, with budgets likely to remain under scrutiny beyond 2020.

“During the pandemic, European firms accomplished tasks that once seemed impossible — sometimes overnight,” said Laura Koetzle, vice-president and group director at Forrester.

“Indeed, with volatility comes opportunity. The shift to remote work, standing up e-commerce platforms to sell online, and organising events virtually to stay connected are just some examples of pivots that European organisations had to make quickly.

“In 2021, firms will need to be adaptive, creative, and resilient, with our Predictions indicating a trend toward technology acceleration.”

Inauthentic brands will lose customers and money

Firstly, European companies will need to meet a growing desire from customers to support socio-economic values such as the environment, local community and gender equality, in addition to offering competitive prices.

It’s been predicted that at least 10 companies will lose billions in brand equity as a result of misunderstanding customers.

To reestablish trust, Forrester recommends that organisations determine customer risk profiles, and use these to address business and marketing strategies.

A reinvention of the CMO

The next prediction made by Forrester was that chief marketing officers (CMOs) across Europe will look to assert control over the full customer lifecycle, leading to a 30% increase in spend on loyalty and retention marketing.

Shifting away from guiding ad buying and promotions alone, CMOs and their teams will aim to put customers first when addressing leadership, strategy and operations, while disjointed experiences will cost millions and lose customers.

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Digital leaders to widen the CX maturity gap

In 2020, Forrester saw two financial services companies achieve an ‘Excellent’ customer experience (CX) score, and while mainstream banks are stagnating, leaders in a variety of spaces are predicted to widen the CX maturity gap.

According to Forrester, European digital leaders will drive double-digit growth in 2021, by concentrating on core CX competencies and increasing analytics and unstructured data research.

CIOs to embrace cloud-first and platform strategies

Forrester have forecasted that 30% of European organisations will continue accelerating spend on cloud, security and risk, networks and mobility, with CIOs leading these initiatives.

A focus on cloud-first and platform strategies will mean an increase in speed and adaptiveness, while interviews with CIOs have revealed a preference for collaboration across organisations, objectives and budgets.

Additionally, CIOs that focus on employee experience (EX) will cultivate successful talent attraction, development and retention, according to Forrester.

An increase in remote employees

With Covid-19 triggering a move to remote working, Forrester predicts that one-third of European white-collar workers will remain remote full-time, compared to just 4% in 2019.

Remote cross-border operations is also forecasted to grow, leading to digital nomad insurance to see an upwards trend, while businesses will use employers of record, professional employer organisations, or combinations of both to comply with tax and labour regulations.

Insurers to prioritise control of claim costs

With the pandemic and natural disasters seeing a rise in insurance claims in 2020, insurers will look to control claim costs in 2021, using smart analytics to identify potential claim leakage.

It’s predicted that general insurance claim losses relating to Covid-19 could reach $100 billion.

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Banking fraud and data breaches to reach an all-time high

While digital leaders in the banking world are set to thrive, the sector is forecasted to see an all-time high in fraud and data breaches, with fraudulent Covid-19 loans being particularly common in 2021.

Banks will face fines as a result of businesses paying minimal attention to GDPR, AML and other regulations, meaning that banks must keep fraud management up to date.

EU regulation of AI to continue developing

Forrester anticipates the drafting of new AI regulation laws by the European Parliament, but predicts that e-privacy reform will be abandoned.

While data suggests that EU citizens find current AI regulation to be inadequate, companies such as Rolls-Royce have drafted their own AI ethics frameworks.

B2B marketers and consumers to be brought closer together

According to Forrester, over a third of European B2B technology buyers will rate chatbots as a top 10 engagement channel, while B2B marketers will prioritise AI martech.

As chatbots and virtual assistant technologies continue to mature, they will leverage first and third-party data, as well as AI and machine learning to deliver more personalised experiences.

B2B sellers to deepen relationships with AI

European B2B sellers will look to deepen relationships with customers by conducting more customer research, and leveraging data insights, with more time due to be being relieved from admin work.

Forrester predicts that over 60% of B2B sellers will be enabled by AI and automation in 2021.

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A critical year for EU cloud competition

With 46% of European company representatives seeing three US-based hyperscalers — AWS, Microsoft and Google — as their primary public cloud vendors, it’s been forecasted that expanding data centre networks in the region, as well as national rule compliance, will help them continue growing.

Meanwhile, Forrester predicts that European cloud project GAIA-X will not make a significant impact in 2021.

Risk management to be top supply chain priority

Last on the list of European predictions for 2021 from Forrester addresses the landscape of supply chains; it’s predicted that by 2022, supply chains will be more resilient and collaborative, acting as supply networks.

Event monitoring and dynamic production, or logistics rescheduling platforms, have been cited as outlets for this process, leading to $1 billion in funding being raised.

The full report can be accessed here.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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