Trendsinuations for 2021

Forget the Crystal Ball. Here is what I’d like to see happen in Business, Tech, and Life in 2021.

Written by Jory Des Jardins, CMO at The @ Company.

I am hardly a business Nostradamus — If I was I wouldn’t have sold my remaining crypto this fall — but I did notice things. And I spotted trends, albeit in a rather self-serving way. I call out what interests me, and what I’d like to see more of in the world. You could say I’m not so much a trendspotter as a trendinsinuist.

So then, here are my trendsinuations for 2021:

1.Virtual Rehab, and Offlining.

With school, work, and life all occurring at home for the past 10 months, my house has become a digital crack den, with devices strewn about, some left in the bathroom or wedged in between couch cushions. With fewer IRL social outlets this year, my kids have turned to platforms such as Roblox, Discord, Netflix, Dad’s old and completely inappropriate Playstation games involving disembowelment and patricide, and the App Store.

With each app they choose to download I receive a ping asking for my permission to initiate the process of rewiring my kids’ brains, which can be provided through fingerprint ID. One of my kids, fed up with waiting for me to get off a conference call, recently came into my office and took my hand, I thought, for some physical comfort before swiping my finger on her device and bolting out of my office. I was left to wonder what form of digital crack I’d just agreed to let her sample.

All this makes me wonder, what is the digital example I’m leaving for my kids? Blind acceptance of the gradual siphoning of their data to the dark lord of push marketing?

The antidote? Short of becoming Quakers we are trying to balance virtual with real life, what I call Offlining. For example, my older daughter is obsessed with slime videos, so we’ve now encouraged her to make it at home. We’ve made book reading time not equal to but proportional to video watching time. We’ve instituted family board game night, with no devices on the table. We have cord-free zones where nothing is being charged.

I’m hoping that the rest of the world with an Internet connection will follow suit, and because digital services are so omnipresent, analog equivalents will become more valued:

  • Phone calls over Zoom meetings
  • Hardcover books over ebooks
  • Scratch cooking over pre-made or prepared meal delivery
  • Board games over Virtual or Console gaming
  • Trivial Pursuit matches with no Googling the answers … (but, my rule, pocket encyclopedias allowed)

Personally this has been a great time for upping my hair-braiding game.

Image for post
Image for post

___________________________

2. Platforms come in data leaded or unleaded options.

The arguments I’ve heard for why TikTok cannot drop its algorithm reminds me of my husband’s rebuke when I attempt to clean his favorite cast-iron skillet with dish soap: I’ll wipe away years of seasoning that has been absorbed into the pan. Similarly, some argue that if TikTok cleans up the data it has captured from millions of users and billions of videos watched, the experience of watching TikTok will be like…

Image for post
Image for post

Its infamous algorithm has become its secret sauce, seasoning strong, customized user experiences.

I don’t think TikTok or its algorithm will be replaced, but rather that social sites that want to maintain or rebuild trust with their users will start offering a choice: with or without surveillance, much like you can choose to have your takeout with or without MSG. Those who choose surveillance-free may find that they don’t get the same experience out of the gate, but maybe, MAYBE they will opt into experiences that will inform a new algorithm. Or they will learn to appreciate a clearer, headache-free experience. Or TikTok will abide by new rules of data ownership and, in effect, borrow data that can be revoked at will by the owners of that data … AKA us.

In five years all platforms will offer a surveillance-free option right out of the gate. In 2021 a few will continue to evolve their business models away from advertising, weaning themselves off of your data as their product.

_____________________________

3. Remote Workers Get a Life.

This year I struggled with how to manage team morale in a pandemic, when so many of us were now working at home amidst school-age kids, wavering wifi, or just our own solitary company. We managers offered ourselves self-congratulatory pats on the back for setting up virtual team happy hours and yoga sessions and ordering ergonomic mouse pads.

And yet, with work as we knew it dissolving in front of us, was the hemming and hawing about how to keep our teams engaged online really that transformative?

I wish I’d asked myself what I wanted, not as a manager but as an employee. Truth be told, while the manager in me tried to be available at all times, the employee in me wanted less time on Zoom, or Teams, or Hangouts, or WebEx, or BlueJeans … you get the point. I had realized before the Pandemic that I was much more productive without having to contemplate a commute or be interrupted by someone who wanted to sidebar about an upcoming project. And yet, being a social animal, I did miss the camaraderie and spontaneous creativity inspired by being around people.

But forcing F2F productivity with F2F social interaction felt forced and was frankly exhausting. I’m sure there’s a study out there that explains why Resting Bitch Face is much more tolerable in person than on a web conferencing platform, but for now, I won’t take you turning off your video cam personally. I’ll just assume you are conserving personal and internet bandwidth.

Image for post
Image for post

Rather than regurgitate another analysis for the Future of Work in the Post-Pandemic era, I’ll advocate for what it seems most of the Futurists concluded: When we are free to roam back into our offices again, it will be under very different auspices. Some of us will take our all-remote option and work from far more interesting and/or remote areas and wonder why small-town life isn’t as interesting as it seemed in Virgin River. Others who missed the free lunches will pack their masks and hand sanitizer and go right back to their work pods.

And the vast majority of us non-essential, remote-optional workers will adhere to the “2–3–2” week: Two days in the office, three days working remotely, and two days not working at all …

(my variation of the 3–2–2 work week experts think will become the norm in 2021). To me, the 2–3–2 is the best of all worlds, providing more time for busy work with pops of F2F color, and includes personal boundaries.

_____________________

A message from our sponsor, The @ Company

Image for post
Image for post

For the digital early adopter who already has the latest version of everything: Have you considered gifting her control and ownership of her own data? The truth is, data ownership is already a personal right, and yet our data is often treated like a Tesla that tech companies joyride when we give them the keys for safekeeping. We get it back scratched, or worse — with souvenirs from a bar in Baja in the trunk. Never mind all that with an @sign. Your @sign is your key into a growing ecosystem of applications that enable us to own and control our data. Want to test one out? Sample the @persona app and build your public online profile as you -not Google -would showcase your digital self. Gift your friends, family, or yourself! The future of true online privacy is coming. Be there when it arrives.

_________________

Cheers, and here’s to a Happier 2021! #Hindsight2020

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

Now for some internet optimism

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store