Accelerating out of the Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how companies do business in fundamental ways. Digital companies, remote workforces, and others that had prioritized digital transformation, cloud technology, and ‘agile’ strategies were well-equipped to endure the strains of 2020. Companies that hadn’t prioritized a digital strategy were not. 

Now Forrester Research has released its predictions for 2021. The central theme:  Digital transformation will only accelerate, with a strong emphasis on what Forrester calls “the Five Ps”— products, practices, platforms, partners, and places. 

Forrester’s 2021 Predictions Report includes:  


Businesses must change their business models and customer relationships to include digital products and services. As one line from the report says: “By the end of 2021, we expect 30 percent of Global 2000 companies to have a significant digital product portfolio, and 20 percent to stand up digital divisions dedicated to launching disruptive products to accelerate their transformation to full ecosystem participation.”

Business practices

In 2021, being a part of a digital ecosystem and using ‘agile’ methods to digitize — segmenting the process into smaller, more manageable phases for quick action, continual adaptations, cross-departmental collaboration, and fast-as-possible results — will be essential for business operations and IT success. As a part of digitization, Forrester expects half of all enterprises to move their business-critical operational apps, and all “experience apps,” into the cloud.


In 2020, many enterprises adopted digital operations platforms (DOPs) to help them use artificial intelligence and automation, and to develop software using the ‘agile’ method. Next year, vendors will develop more DOPs and bridging systems tailored to industry-specific needs. Doing so should accelerate the shift to digital and help businesses operate more efficiently. 


The pandemic forced many changes on businesses, pressuring executives even more than usual to get the biggest bang for their business buck. In 2021 businesses will consider every digital project in light of the broader ‘ecosystem’ with which it connects — the systems of its business partners, suppliers, clients, and customers. Providers will increase their use of ‘outcome-based pricing,’ pricing their products according to perceived value rather than the costs of producing them. 


Businesses will greatly expand the availability of their products and services, but will focus chiefly on their own e-commerce sites, Amazon, and Facebook. Furthermore, businesses will invest marketing dollars in personalized customer experiences and digital content management, and will also buy augmented- and virtual-reality solutions. 

2021 and Cybersecurity Risk

One of the most challenging aspects of business digitization is cybersecurity. As malicious actors constantly switch tactics, so must CISOs, working with security staff to adjust quickly to changing circumstances. 

The 2020 shift to a remote-work model, coupled with increases in cloud adoption, brought new threats and a new emphasis on resilience, which is the ability to keep critical business services running even amid disruption to business systems.

Organizations expecting to return to “business as usual” in 2021 will be disappointed: We won’t quite get there next year. 

Increased telecommuting coupled with potentially disgruntled employees spells an increase in “insider” cybersecurity threats. This year, about 25 percent of data breaches are inside jobs. Forrester predicts an uptick to 33 percent in 2021. 

Good governance, risk management, and compliance software such as ZenGRC can help companies prepare for the rise in cybersecurity risks and add needed controls to help prevent incidents and stay compliant with regulations and industry standards.

The year 2020 has already been very stressful for business, including in cybersecurity. And 2021 promises new and different risks and threats as well as increases in those we’re seeing now. Amid all the changes forecast in the Forrester Report, the need for great cybersecurity risk management is a constant that never goes away.

Download the Forrester 2021 Predictions Report Here