The time has finally come to say goodbye a year that challenged each of us in one way or another. 2020 gave us 365 days of twists, turns, and overwhelming changes. It tested our collective sanity. It also propelled us to find shared strength with one another. At times, the only way to keep marching forward was to focus on a critical silver lining: that adversity most often leads to resilience. Beyond the emotional toll this past year took on so many individuals, it was, of course, a time of turmoil for organizations across almost every industry.
It has been particularly interesting to revisit last year’s business and tech predictions for 2020, which were sprinkled across the internet by thought leaders and journalists as 2019 came to a close. It doesn’t take long to see where we all missed the mark with our expectations. Of course, none of us could have predicted the severity of 2020’s unfortunate protagonist: a sweeping pandemic that has caused nearly 1.8 million deaths, vast unemployment, economic chaos, and a mass shift to remote work.
Where Did We Miss the Mark With High Level 2020 Predictions?
Early in the year, COVID-19’s impact across most industries was largely unforeseen and underestimated. It became clear almost overnight, in early March, that the virus was going to be pervasive — tearing apart businesses and dismantling many of those predictions shared in late 2019.
Some experts predicted that 2020 was the year that Artificial Intelligence would finally become the default, but this hasn’t fully happened either. In a recent conversation between Denis Whelan (Projector’s CEO) and Amanda Berger Rosen (SVP of Customer Success at HackerOne), Berger Rosen emphasized why human elements are still critical to professional services delivery and client success.
Which Predictions Were Spot On? Customer Satisfaction and Data Strategy, to Name a Few
So, there is no doubt we had some wrong expectations for 2020, but which predictions were accurate? Quite a few of them, actually. For example, Forrester had projected that consumers would place more importance on customer experience and company values. In late 2019, the analyst firm released their “Predictions 2020” report, which stated, “In 2020, executives will attempt to give customers what they crave. Consumers search for deeper meaning. More than 55% of consumers will consider company values when making a buying decision.” This was spot on, and it’s a topic we dive further into in our post around capacity planning for outstanding customer service. In the same report, Forrester also assured readers that “data strategy will unlock transformations in 2020.” We at Projector firmly believe that trustworthy, real-time data is a non-negotiable for organizations and delivery managers seeking sustainable growth. We’ve seen first-hand how a strategic use of data has been pivotal for our customers’ delivery processes, especially in 2020.
We've Learned Remote Work Will Drive Higher Services Quality.
There were also predictions that became true simply as a consequence of the pandemic. For example, as we closed out 2019, many companies expressed the importance of employee happiness. Namely, providing personnel with the option to work from home. This likely would have still become a reality even without a pandemic, but not to the same degree. Due to COVID, an incredible 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full-time, according to Stanford University. This is a trend that is likely here to stay. In a recent FlexJobs survey, 96% of respondents said they desire some form of remote work. The results are substantial. According to a HubSpot study, 76% of participants claimed to be more productive when working remotely. Anyone familiar with services management knows that high productivity leads to high quality work.
How Can We Drive Continuous Improvement of Service Performance in 2021?
The ramifications of COVID-19 have certainly been relevant (inescapable, even) since mid-March for most services organizations. Towards the end of the year, our team at Projector started to speculate: what are some of the biggest takeaways from the shared turbulence we’ve experienced throughout 2020? What best practices are we walking away with? In reflection, how can we use these lessons to inform how we plan our business processes for 2021? What metrics should our customers be prioritizing? To find out, we kicked off a series we’re calling the Services Leadership Corner: a sequence of interviews with leaders from some of the foremost professional services organizations. We’ve sought to understand: how have our peers adapted to remote collaboration? How have organizations supported customers and employees, all the while continuing to deliver successful projects, despite this year’s inevitable business disruption?
We wrapped up our learnings from these conversations in an informative (and free) webinar: 5 Professional Services Best Practices for Navigating COVID. CEO Denis Whelan offers insights into how services strategies and delivery mediums are evolving; which tools — both software and hardware — are best for enabling remote work; the importance of supply chain and capacity planning – and how to plan for predictable revenue; the value of employee happiness; the importance of diversifying skill sets, and more.