Companies across every industry have had to make quick operational changes to acclimate to the pandemic and mitigate its impacts on the bottom line. Resources, projects and functions may have been outsourced initially or cobbled together internally as a short-term solution. 

As a “new normal” slowly comes into focus, however, many businesses looking for more long-lasting stability are investing in their IT departments. 

Here, 11 members of Forbes Technology Council offer their top predictions on the specific types of IT investments businesses will be making in 2021 to adapt and thrive in the economic landscape now taking shape.

1. Cloud Migration

The most crucial investment businesses need to make in 2021, if they haven’t already, is migrating to the cloud. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of investing in IT before the storm. Many agile companies that had completed their digital journey to the cloud prior to the pandemic did not miss a beat when all employees were forced to work from home, producing an outstanding ROI. - Bob Fabien ZingaDirectly, Inc/U.S. Navy Reserve

2. Communication Automation Tools

Critical investments will be made in technology solutions that automate and test companies’ communication tools and ensure an elevated customer experience. Omnichannel communications are becoming more important to both consumers and businesses, with video becoming more standard. Ensuring the functionality of communication tools will be critical in 2021. - Alok KulkarniCyara Solutions Corp

3. Self-Service Models And AI-Driven Knowledge Management

Organizations will accelerate the adoption of self-service models and AI-driven knowledge management to reduce costs and roll out superior employee and customer experiences, extending ITSM with self-service and knowledge management to adopt processes that drive digital transformation. With AI service management, businesses can leverage hyperautomation and ops automation to increase productivity and become autonomous digital enterprises. - Ali SiddiquiBMC Software

4. Tools To Boost Employee Engagement

It can be challenging for employees to stay engaged while working remotely for extended periods of time, and engaged team members are crucial to driving productivity and innovation. As we move into 2021, businesses should continue to invest in cloud-powered collaboration software, internal social media platforms and communication tools to simulate the in-office experience. - Michael RingmanTELUS International

5. Cybersecurity Education For Employees

Remote team members are now playing “home help desk technician” and “domestic cybersecurity officer” roles in addition to their primary job functions. Forward-looking companies will double-down on education and awareness efforts for mobile workers to amplify foundational technology skills and prepare them for constantly changing cyber vulnerabilities and threats. - Chris PurcellPEMCO Mutual Insurance Company

6. Insider Threat Solutions

I believe that many businesses will be investing in insider threat solutions in 2021. In 2020, organizations realized that their biggest security vulnerability isn’t coming from outside of their businesses but from inside. Remote work has revealed the true risk posed by employees, whether accidentally or maliciously, and businesses will be putting strategies in place to mitigate this in the long term. - Tony PepperEgress

7. Digital Sales Tools

The pandemic has ushered in the era of digital sales for most companies, and I expect to see many invest more in tools to make the sales process seamless and digitally engaging. Sellers need to sell the way buyers want to buy, and more and more B2B buyers are voting with their wallets for digital experiences. - John JahnkeTackle.io

8. Digital Customer Experiences

Build with the digital customer in mind. Whether it’s transforming existing services or adding new streams, the customers will have options at their fingertips. They have been more understanding and limited in choice during the pandemic, but they have also become more resourceful and digitally savvy. Tap into that, respecting the place they are coming from, and offer an outstanding experience to all stakeholders. - Diana XhumariTegeria

9. Communication Services

Companies will invest in communications services, and not just video chat or file sharing, but any way that people can communicate their ideas: virtual whiteboards, shared documents that can be edited together, searchable archives where you can find everything later and more—even games that a team can play together, as stronger relationships build better communication too. - Luke WallaceBottle Rocket

10. Desktop As A Service

Many businesses will prepare for the unpredictable and look at ways to bring their emergency planning down to minutes of recovery versus days. With DaaS, for example, I can right-click and “burst scale” from a few test machines to hundreds or even thousands of instances. The cloud is cheap until you start using it, so wise investments will look to optimize this. - J. Tyler RohrerLiquidware

11. Machine Learning

In 2021, more IT teams will adopt state-of-the-art ML model management and operational platforms. The pandemic has shown us the power of AI and ML initiatives such as consumer insights, cost optimization and online marketplaces. Businesses already running ML have also realized the need for a reliable infrastructure and MLOps pipeline to quickly react to sudden changes in consumer behavior and market dynamics. - Meeta DashVerta.ai

This article was published on Forbes.com