As we near the end of what turned out to be a totally unpredictable year, it may seem bold to forecast what is in store for 2021.
However, one megatrend from the COVID-19 pandemic is sure to influence everything from ecology to economy and healthcare to lifestyle in the coming year: working from home.
As businesses, workers and consumers navigate remote and online landscapes, 16 experts laid out several predictions for how the global population will access healthcare, make environmental progress, learn, innovate, invest and so much more in 2021.
HOW WE LIVE AND WORK
1. Self-care and nostalgia renaissance
Fisher Shiloni, partner in lifestyle and design trend forecasting agency The Visionary, predicts the homebody trend will continue boosting self-care products and practices, including cosmetics, immune-boosting supplements, at-home workout systems, “stress baking,” organizing and nostalgia.
“We see a renaissance of nostalgia because in times of crisis, society has a tendency to think about what was great about the past,” she told Zenger News. “We’re even seeing content on Netflix that is so much more nostalgic and retro in its visual appearance.”
2. Increase in empathy and flexibility
With remote work dominating the landscape for the foreseeable future, empathy will play a big role in 2021, predicts Eitan Chitayat, founder and creative director of the Natie Branding Agency in Tel Aviv.
“Personal interaction in 2021 is a whole new ballgame where the connections between people have to be adapted,” Chitayat said. “As you’re giving a presentation to a client online, your kid will come into the room needing attention. Or you’ll have a family obligation during work hours and your manager will have to understand.”
“We will all need to be more empathetic and flexible — not only in scheduling but in human terms,” he said.
3. Investment in home and personal appearance
Working from home has changed how we dress ourselves and our homes, notes Cohen Mordechai, whose Israeli fashion lectures and tours have moved mainly online.
“Now our house is part of our accessories, part of the message we convey to the world about who we are,” Cohen Mordechai said. “Instead of using virtual backgrounds of beautiful houses on Zoom meetings, people will put money into their actual home décor.”
We’re not wearing pajamas to work anymore, she added.
“We are dressing more comfortably, but presentably,” she said. “People are also looking for sustainable and locally produced items,” forcing local designers and merchants to offer and/or improve online sales platforms.
HOW WE ACCESS HEALTHCARE
4. Tele-health boon
The coming year will herald “unprecedented” advancement of solutions supporting remote monitoring, diagnosis and treatment, according to Shai Policker, CEO of MEDX Xelerator medical-device incubator.
“COVID created a significant boost to medicine moving away from hospitals as much as possible, and diagnostics and therapeutics moving into the home. You will see these innovations taking place much more than before,” Policker said.
Such progress includes Synchrony Medical’s programmable and inflatable vest for patients with chronic respiratory conditions. Developed in collaboration with Sheba’s ARC, this at-home device imitates hospital-based respiratory physiotherapy, a field in which there is a shortage of trained personnel in Israel and the United States.
5. Faster diagnostic abilities
“New diagnostics that are quicker and more accurate, such as 15-minute or even 1-minute COVID tests at low cost, should be in the market in the next year. That will be the next big thing apart from vaccines,” Eyal Zimlichman, deputy director general and chief medical officer of Sheba Medical Center and Chief Innovation Officer at its ARC Innovation Center, said.
Beyond the coronavirus, Zimlichman sees increasing focus on AI applications for genomics, remote vital-sign measuring, radiology and digital pathology.
“Sheba is one of the first hospitals in the world to go completely digital for pathology. Microscopes are out. This is a huge revolution,” he said. “Telemedicine has been pushed forward by COVID, and we’ll see it play a crucial role in ‘hospital at home’ and other types of services that are now face-to-face.”
6. Challenges in healthcare staffing
Healthcare staffing will be a big issue in 2021, according to Freda Ganz, dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Jerusalem College of Technology. Hospitals employees are being stretched thin, and public health systems will struggle with the logistics of administering COVID-19 vaccines widely and fast.
“When COVID first got here, everybody was worried about ventilators and beds, but the main concern actually ended up being manpower,” she said. “We saw this problem all over the world. In 2021, ICUs must have enough staff to handle patients, and they need to be well-trained. This is a real problem now.”
HOW WE INNOVATE & INVEST
7. Combatting creative stagnation
Remote work is causing creative stagnation at companies large and small, Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld, General Manager at Intel Ignite, a startup growth program, noted. Gone are in-person brainstorming sessions, water-cooler conversations, happy hours and other triggers for innovative ideas and collaborations.
“CEOs and founders will have to build a mechanism that allows real person-to-person interaction with working from home because everyone is suffering,” Weisfeld said.
On the positive side for Israeli startups, connections being forged in the United Arab Emirates present new funding and customer opportunities, added Weisfeld, who recently met some of his Dubai investors for the first time face-to-face.
8. Growth in crowdfunding
“More and more, crowdfunding will be the source of capital,” said Oded Eliashiv, CEO of InvestiNation, an equity crowdfunding investment platform, and managing partner of BuiltUp Ventures and the B-Seed investment arm of Besadno Group.
“There is a need to provide sophisticated tools and an adaptable platform that enables startups to touch base with people, not just investors,” Eliashiv said.
The focus in 2021 will be impact investments in innovations related to pandemics, he predicted.
“There is an urge to go back to business as usual, but what everyone is ignoring is that these pandemics will come back again and again,” he said. “That’s our new reality.”
HOW WE PROTECT CYBERSPACE
9. Deepfake dangers
Nir Chako, CyberArk Labs’ cyber research team leader predicts deepfake dangers in 2021 due to businesses’ reliance on video communication with remote employees. Deepfakes use sophisticated technology to replace a person in an existing image or video with someone else’s likeness.
“Video and recordings of executives and business leaders are readily available across marketing collateral, social-media channels, and more,” Chako said. “Attackers could coordinate deepfakes from these properties as a strategic follow-on to phishing attempts — which will also move away from email to other platforms like chat and collaboration apps — to make manipulated communications feel even more authentic.”
“Attackers could also use manipulated videos of executive leaders on social channels to entice customers, employees, partners and more to click on malicious links – creating broader new attack avenues for malicious actors,” Chako said.
10. Infrastructure as code
As more organizations turn to the cloud to support communication with remote employees, demand for cloud-based security will drive a new approach called infrastructure as code (IaC). Malicious attackers will try to exploit developers’ missteps in these uncharted and complex waters.
“To combat this, we will see a major concentration around cloud security training, IaC best practices, and additional spend allocated toward software and application security,” Maty Siman, CTO of Checkmarx, said.
Tools for application security will need to work more rapidly, scale to cloud environments, and present actionable findings for developers to make quick fixes before malicious actors take advantage of new software vulnerabilities. Hackers will increasingly exploit components of open-source software — developed in a collaborative public manner — to gain entry into organizations.
11. Rise in consumer data exposures
“Every year we provide our personal data to many new companies on the Internet as part of our daily lives. On average, there are 350 companies holding our sensitive data. Since COVID-19 started, this number increased by 55% due to a massive digital transformation,” said Gal Ringel, co-founder and CEO of Mine.
“In 2021, the phenomenon of consumer data exposure will increase dramatically. Ultimately, consumers will become more aware of who has what data about them, what are the digital risks that are associated with that and how to be safer online,” he said. “You can already see an increase in consumer awareness. Since our product was officially launched in Europe and the U.S., less than a year ago, more than 100,000 users have used Mine to reduce their digital footprint by sending more than 1,300,000 deletion requests to over 150,000 businesses worldwide.”
HOW WE LEARN
12. Expansion of education technology
“During the coronavirus crisis, users of ed-tech have moved from being early adopters, typically 16% of the population, to the whole population overnight. This will raise the bar for expectations pretty dramatically,” said Avi Warshavsky, CEO of MindCET, the ed-tech innovation center of Israel’s nonprofit Center for Educational Technology.
“Before the pandemic, the big investments in the U.S. for ed-tech were in corporate training, higher education and management tools for schools and institutions. Now we see more investment in learning solutions for K-12 and in the field of social and emotional learning,” Warshavsky said. “The latter was a trend before, but the pandemic made it urgent.”
The coming year will see more emphasis on new learning platforms than on content due to unprecedented usage, as well as more solutions for self-learning inside physical schools and technologies enabling hybrid learning environments.
13. Normalization of distance learning
“I expect the higher-education establishment to become more accepting of distance education,” said Jonathan Braun, president of the World Union of Jewish Students.
Instructors will accept that students working part-time to pay tuition fees may not always be present in live, online classes but will learn the material from recordings or notes posted afterward, according to him.
Braun predicts that the COVID-19 crisis will lead to renewed interest in courses preparing students for jobs in healthcare sciences and education because people realize their value more than ever. He also predicts more anti-discrimination education “because people are becoming more extreme and polarized.”
HOW WE INTERACT WITH THE ENVIRONMENT
14. Spike in water contamination, temperatures and species extinctions
Alon Tal, Tel Aviv University professor of environmental policy and deputy chair of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, predicts the number of children and teenagers who die from diseases associated with contaminated water (roughly 2.2 million worldwide) will be 1,000 times greater than the number in that age group dying from COVID-19 — and more than all coronavirus-related deaths in 2020.
More than 50 coastal cities, including several in Israel, will ban plastic in public areas, especially on beaches. However, ocean pollution will still pose significant hazards to marine life.
The new world record for heat (54.4 degrees Celsius/130 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer of 2020 in Death Valley, California) will be shattered. The Israeli record of 49.9C/122F, measured near the Dead Sea in 2019, will also be broken, Tal predicts.
Five animal species will be declared extinct in the wild — most likely sub-species of oryx, leopard and rhino. In Israel, more than 7.7 square miles of open space and natural habitats will be converted into asphalt, apartments, shopping centers.
The price of solar energy and storage will drop an additional 5-10%, making renewable energy far cheaper than all fossil fuel alternatives.
By the end of 2021, Tal believes “there will be 84 million more people on the planet, and Israel will have 185,000 more residents as it races towards crossing the 10 million citizen mark by the end of 2024.”
HOW WE DO BUSINESS
15. Personalized customer experience
“The COVID-19 global pandemic accelerated digitalization in almost all fields. The name of the game in the business arena should now, more than ever, be personalization of the customer experience,” said Orna Kleinmann, managing director of multinational software firm SAP’s R&D Center in Israel.
With everyone from school kids to the elderly switching to an online format for social interactions, learning, sports and shopping, approaching end consumers requires direct, specific and immediate online solutions.
“Our SAP Customer Experience (CX) portfolio has grown 20% faster than the industry average since the beginning of the pandemic,” Kleinmann said. “Going forward into 2021, I believe that the area of CX will continue growing and play a significant role in every intelligent enterprise.”
16. Renewed focus on cybersecurity and pharmaceuticals
“The world is now split into two: the virus business and the antivirus business,” said David Laxer, founder of Laxer brand consultancy. “Pharma and cybersecurity will both be very sexy moving forward.”
In the retail sector, he added, “If you’re not online you almost have no right to exist.”
“Malls are closing, and ecommerce has gone up about 400% since the onset of the pandemic,” he said. “This digitization is synonymous with cutting jobs. A lot of companies went completely digital, and 20% of [traditional] jobs disappeared. There will be new jobs in the new economy, but they must keep in mind that the consumer has changed and people are less frivolous in their buying habits.”
16 Expert Predictions for 2021, the Year of the Homebody appeared first on ISRAEL21c.
(Edited by Carlin Becker and David Martosko)