May 28, 2021

Google I/O 2021 Top Announcements From Rocketeers’ Perspective

Google held the first-ever 100% virtual I/O this year! There are many existing announcements made during the 3-day online conference last week. We’ve collected the following information based on our Rocketeer’s input that provides brief introductions and concise reasons why we think they’re of relatively high importance:

Android 12 Beta
https://developer.android.com/about/versions/12/overview
https://developer.android.com/about/versions/12/overview

The first Android 12 Beta was unveiled and there’s a lot to explore — including “Material You” which is the biggest design change in Android’s history (we’ll discuss more below), new privacy features and a new standard called Performance Class that lets apps and users identify high-performing devices. There will be 3 more planned Beta releases before the production version become available in Fall. It’s important for Development and QA teams to try the new features and test existing apps for compatibility to plan for updates as needed. While Android 10 is still the most popular OS for Android phones, the exciting new features Android 12 offers will likely gain fast adoption rate once it rolls out!

“Material You”
https://blog.google/products/android/android-12-beta/

Back in 2014, Google introduced Material Design to create a “system for building bold, beautiful, and consistent digital experiences.”
This year, Google unveiled “Material You” which is a new approach to design. It’ll allow the users to pick from customized palettes for the system and apps (Instead of Google dictating the color palette.)
It’d be important for us to understand the impact of this new approach as we work with our Strategy / design team to determine how to meet client needs and maintain consistency between the look & feel of our own apps and all Google products.
From product perspective this means the UI will be more personalized for each individual user while maintaining consistency with other system or apps look and feel.

New LaMDA AI Language Model

LaMDA is an AI Language Model for Dialog Applications. It’s open domain and designed to converse on any topic. While it’s still in research and development, Google has been using it internally to explore novel interactions. It’s intended to create more human responses to help keep conversations going by leveraging learned concepts built out of its training models.
We think there are interesting implications for chatbot usages in the future and it could provide a powerful way to handle support in the future when more models exist that incorporate other facets of communication. The better organized your data is now, the better these automated chatbots will be able to represent your brand.

Project Starline
https://blog.google/technology/research/project-starline/

The Google I/O demo of Project Starline showed an impressive look at a possible future for a more immersive “face to face” style of videoconferencing with people not in your current physical location. The technology uses custom built and highly specialized hardware, including “… a breakthrough light field display system that creates a sense of volume and depth that can be experienced without the need for additional glasses or headsets.”.
It is currently just deployed in just a few Google locations but Google’s goal “… is to make this technology more affordable and accessible, including bringing some of these technical advancements into our suite of communication products”.
Basically, in the short term we should start to see improvements in existing Google products and services and in the long term we can hope to experience products based off Project Starline’s tech for ourselves.

WearOS and Tizen Join Forces
https://www.wareable.com/android-wear/google-samsung-join-forces-for-massive-wear-os-update-8426

Google has been trying to enter the smart phone/wearable market since 2014 but has never gained traction. While Apple represented over half of the market share since its introduction, Google has never managed to make it out of the “other” category. However, this year Google has been making major moves in the space.
In January Google finalized acquisition of Fitbit, and now they have announced a partnership with Samsung to create a unified opensource operating system for use across Google watches, Samsung watches, and high-end Fitbit devices. Google is also making a bid to lure back customers by moving many or its core apps to smartwatch in a meaningful way, and developers by introducing the Jetpack tiles library. It’s still early to see if Google and Samsung can finally end the fragmentation that has made meaningfully developing for watches so difficult, but if they pull it off it a could mean a lot more apps entering the smart watch market, and create a virtuous cycle of increased adoption.

Privacy Features

Privacy is a huge focus area for Google, and we think the following major announcements related to user privacy are worth noting:

  • Google will “auto delete” activity data that is 18 months old or shorter period specified by user. Also, Google will not use Gmail, Photos, Drive content for ads purposes; or use sensitive information (health, race, religion or sexual orientation) to personalize ads.
  • Differential Privacy — To use large, aggregated data set while guaranteeing that one’s individual data cannot be identified.
  • Federated Learning — Enables Machine Learning models to be trained centrally without any raw data leaving user’s device.
  • Incognito mode in search maps and YouTube as well as easily remove search history from user’s account.
  • Users will know real time (via indicators) when camera or microphone are in use.
  • Privacy Dashboard will show timeline view of last 24 hours about which apps used which permissions, i.e., Location, Camera.
  • Private Compute Core isolates private data and allows access via specialized APIs.
  • Location permissions system dialog will allow choosing between Precise or Approximate.

With enhanced privacy features, apps can be more trust-worthy to the users. On the other hand, these new privacy policies will have impact on digital advertising and data gathering. So it’s important to keep the privacy control in mind while designing new or updating existing apps.

Digital Car Keys
https://screenrant.com/google-digital-car-key-android-12-bmw-features-release/

Android 12 will now support the ability to use your phone as your car keys, if you have one of a few newer pixel devices, AND own one of a very few brand-new cars. This move closely mirrors a similar announcement from Apple last year and has similar features. If you happen to have the correct combination of phone and car you may even be able to unlock your car with your phone still in your pocket (using Ultra-Wideband) where users previously had to settle for waving their phones at the door to make the magic happen.

What’s New in Flutter
https://medium.com/flutter/whats-new-in-flutter-2-0-fe8e95ecc65

Flutter continues its advance to become the UI toolkit of choice for cross-platform. Google and a growing team of open source contributors released Flutter 2.2 and its accompanying Dart 2.13 upgrade. This release focuses on quality, performance, and productivity.

Support for web grew closer to par with mobile with improvements to caching, rendering, and accessibility. Web support also enables the Flutter team to immediately showcase features to developers. https://photobooth.flutter.dev/#/

Tools: Flutter converts many developers with its focus on tooling and the developer experience. Tool upgrades include memory allocation tracking, better web UI debugging.

Eco-System: The Google Payment SDK plug-in is now available that supports Google Pay on Android devices and Apple Pay on iOS. 24 new packages received the Flutter Favorite badge, meaning they’ve met the standards for recommendation by Google for a “first look” whenever you’re starting a new project.

Industry Acceptance: BMW (300 engineers), WeChat (1.2 billion users), and NuBank were some of the industry names that have migrated their development to Flutter. Case studies were presented that give weight to around a 30% speedup in development time for Flutter with the added benefit of adding support for additional platforms.

Desktop: Though still in beta, desktop support matured further with improvements to mouse, text field editing, and scrolling support as well as Alpha support for Windows UWP. See Flutter on XBox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_zIzr60vMA

With support for ARM64 Linux, which runs much of the embedded world, envision a future where, if it has a screen, you can target it with Flutter.

For a complete rundown, please check out all content in Google I/O and see What’s New In Flutter medium post for more details for Flutter news.

May 24, 2021

Freedom of Choice with Flutter

Any significant investment in digital solutions considers cross-platform technologies at some point. What is the widest footprint of devices I can address without compromising the experience for each user and staying within budget?

A comprehensive discovery study may consider the following:

  • Native Mobile: Android / iOS
  • Native Tablet: Android / iOS / Surface
  • Web: Mobile & Desktop
  • Native Desktop: Mac / Windows / Linux

I don’t know an MVP version of an unproven app that targets more than 3 of these without cutting some corners. Native mobile is reused for tablet or a web site targets all desktop needs. Web may also cover mobile via a PWA.

Even with cross-platform technologies, validation cost may become prohibitive.

Life buoy floating on water.
(Photo by Jametlene Reskp)
Cross-Platform Hope…

The cross-platform dream is a single code base produced with the development IDE experience of one’s preferred platform that comes close to native performance. Most fall far short.

Plenty of articles compare the various options — new ones daily. The view on whether one should use Flutter has ranged from ‘It depends’, to ‘Maybe’, to ‘Absolutely, and I will never go back’. Accompanied by the pragmatic ‘meh’ or once bitten ‘will never replace native’.

The single code base is a myth hidden by an abstraction that conceals native integrations. Whether Javascript or Dart, a cross-platform app may have a single code base — but below that lurk per platform variances waiting for an opportune moment to keep you up at night with a complication. They announce their presence when an underlying dependency changes, think iOS13 to iOS14, or AndroidX.

The cross-platform library may have some integration issues, or more likely — selected third party packages must get updated. And now I have an extra delay and cost to my development. Even if I anticipated it — and you should, the timing is rarely convenient.

It’s out of my control. And it makes my head hurt. After two or three bad experiences, I gaze at my old native code bases with nostalgia.

Towering stack of balanced blocks.
Be careful of library dependencies… (Photo by Valery Fedotov)
Enter Flutter…

In the past couple of years, Flutter has evolved to address many cons of cross-platform development. Though typical risks remain, it far surpasses other solutions in my experience. Judging by recent articles, many agree. In my opinion, the Flutter advantage comes down to 2 key items: developer experience, and performance.

Historically, native platform developers begrudge the benefits of cross platform solutions due to painful past experiences alluded to above. They remain comfortably anchored to their preferred platform. But with Flutter, because of the tools, documentation, and community, developers find they enjoy the programming experience. It allows them to focus on what they love instead of battle against forced usage of a tool they know in their heart is not the best.

We can all fit, you said. It will be fast and smooth, you said. Think of how much we’ll save, you said. (Photo by Aubrey Odom on Unsplash)

But Flutter actually does what it promises — maximize development reuse with a similar effort as single-platform native. It’s easy to install, has great documentation, a fast learning curve, and great toolsets. Its underlying architecture (it does its own rendering instead of a bridge to native components) keeps the platform integration layer thin and abstracted from the typical migration headaches called out above— though third party packages are not immune.

For these reasons, I have embraced Flutter. I especially like it for B2B, MVPs, or version 1.0s. I also discovered a new degree of freedom I had not been looking for. Flutter allows delayed choice of target platform. What does this mean?

Platform Decision Risk

If the target user or engagement model is not identified or proven, the platform investment risk can seem especially high. Are they primarily Android users? iOS? Will they prefer to interact on their phone or desktop? How likely is it they will have installed the app in advance of need? If web is the primary platform, what browser will they use?

Maybe there is one primary mobile usage scenario, but a critical secondary usage that will always be web. For example — a transaction between a service provider and a walk-up customer.

2 one-way signs pointing different directions
Which way? (Photo by Ian Taylor)

It may take several iterations to determine the best approach and highest value platform target — unless budget is unlimited and you can support them all. (If this is you, please comment what automated test tools you use to validate all the permutations).

Agile Deployment

The great thing about Flutter is that it supports all of these scenarios. So you can target one platform with low risk and after some iteration, when the picture is clearer, you can pivot to a different platform, without throwing your initial investment away, or starting over.

Maybe mobile was not the right choice because usage is 1-time — perhaps a PWA link sent via message works better.

Person holding a mobile phone to make a purchase at cashier
Do you mind installing our app first? (Photo by Clay Banks)

Consider Flutter and this agile approach to targeted platform deployments — broad and shallow at first, then increasingly focused and deep as you come to know your users and the most convenient and successful platforms for them to engage your solution and extract the value you provide.

Strategically planning the first phase of your app to address all these platforms with an appropriate experience, will pay dividends. But the experience should be carefully designed. What might be the right engagement model and UI for mobile and PWA is probably not ideal for native desktop or responsive web. An agile approach to target selection may save you enough to invest in a single code base that still has the appropriate UI for mobile, tablet, web, and desktop when needed.

What a delightful target platform this developer chose! (Photo by Owen Beard)

March 16, 2021

How travel brands are using Apple’s App Clip to drive engagement, touchless experiences

Travel providers have been examining ways to make the traveler journey friction-free long before anyone heard the word “coronavirus.” But across all sectors of the industry, contactless solutions have gone from a “nice-to-have” to “need-to-have” as travel brands contend with evolving traveler expectations.

One new solution at travel providers’ disposal is Apple’s App Clip, which allows users to experience a small part of a brand’s app without having to fully download the application.

App Clips, which were released as part of Apple’s iOS 14, are designed to be used in the moment – for example, to order food – and allow users to complete an entire task or transaction in seconds. Users discover App Clips via Safari, Maps or Messages or in the real world through NFC tags, QR codes or App Clip Codes, which are unique markers that take users to specific App Clips.

If users scan a QR code for a tour, for example, they’ll see an App Clip pop up that will let them immediately pay for the experience through Apple Pay. Once the transaction is completed, the App Clip disappears, or brands can offer users the opportunity to download their full app.

“The pandemic era has accelerated already-rising trends: app overload, privacy transparency and instant/zero-touch experiences,” says Tal Raviv, product manager at marketing analytics platform AppsFlyer. “App Clips is the well-timed culmination of these trends.”

Raviv says a good way for travel brands to think about App Clips is to ask: Where do we lean heavily on mobile web?

“App Clips combine the availability of mobile web with the richness of native iOS app experiences. When you think about it that way, it’s less about the sector of travel, and more about the context and use case. Brands should consider what the quick-value moments are that provide an excellent opportunity for a native mobile experience to shine - way above what mobile web can offer,” he says.

“Travel is an ideal context for App Clips, because there’s so many rich mobile experiences available. On the other hand, a lot of the value doesn’t neatly fit into people’s long-term routine, the way messaging or finance apps do. App Clips liberate this value from being stuck behind an app download - and allows travelers to instantly get some of the value they would get from the full app.”

Although current usage in travel is relatively nascent, several brands have introduced App Clips as a way to provide a frictionless experience for travelers as well as increase customer engagement.

KKday

In February, travel e-commerce platform KKday became the first tourism operator in Greater China to introduce an App Clip experience.

With KKday’s App Clip, travelers in Taipei visiting attractions including the Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, Maokong Gondola and Taipei Arena Ice Land can scan an App Clip Code with their iPhone to quickly and seamlessly purchase a ticket.Brands should consider what the quick-value moments are that provide an excellent opportunity for a native mobile experience to shine - way above what mobile web can offer.Tal Raviv - AppsFlyerShare this quote

After completing the ticket purchase, visitors will immediately receive the QR code of the electronic voucher and can enter the venue by validating the voucher at the entrance using their phone.

KKday CFO Victor Tseng says that while over 50% of KKday’s users are using KKday’s app, there is still a subset of users booking through web browsers or other methods.

“There are so many new users out there that have not discovered us,” he says. “The App Clip is a supplement to these kinds of users out there to be able to discover these products that KKday has digitized in a more frictionless way.”

App Clips, Tseng continues, help create a “holistic, touchless experience” - critical in COVID times - without users having to take up time and space on their mobile installing a full app. “It's very frictionless, very digitized and very fitting in light of COVID and social distancing.”

KKday has also partnered with Taipei Metro to provide a NT$50 discount to consumers who pay for experiences at Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, Maokong Gondola and Taipei Arena Ice Land with Visa cards through Apple Pay.

One month since launch, App Clips have seen “pretty good” traction, Tseng says, and KKday plans to work with more vendors in Taipei to implement the solution.

Caesars Entertainment

In Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment is the first hospitality company on the Strip to utilize Apple’s App Clip solution.

Developed by digital experience company Bottle Rocket, Caesars' App Clip allows on-site guests to locate their hotel room and book restaurant reservations without having to download the Caesars Rewards mobile app.

The App Clip also leverages push notifications from Caesars’ engagement partner, Airship.

Launched in 2020, the App Clips are accessible via QR codes. Currently, the Find My Room App Clip – which provides guests with step-by-step directions to find their rooms or points of interest at Caesars properties - is available at all of Caesars’ Las Vegas Resorts, and the Book Restaurant App Clip has launched at several properties.

“Caesars Entertainment’s App Clips highlight two key features of the Caesars Rewards mobile app that guests can use quickly and conveniently without the full app installed,” says Terry Chi, director of mobile and digital innovation for Caesars Entertainment.

“For a non-app user, these App Clips allow the guest to discover some of the useful features of the Caesars Rewards mobile app, thereby encouraging a full app download later. For a current app user, it saves the guest some steps in populating information when using the Book Restaurant App Clip.”

Chi says that from a marketing perspective, the obstacle in being first-to-market with the App Clip solution is that many people don’t fully understand what an App Clip is or does. “It will take time and education to get mass adoption,” she says.

That said, so far, engagement with Caesars’ App Clips “has surpassed all expectations.”

Expedia Group

Online travel agencies are experimenting with App Clips, as well. In September, Expedia Group-owned Hotwire.com launched an App Clip that provides hotel information including ratings and a way for users to book with one tap via Apple Pay.

The App Clip, along with a new Hotwire deals widget, will help customers save an average of 52% on last-minute accommodation bookings when compared to the listed rate two weeks prior, the company says.

Although Expedia Group is in the early stages of the launch, the company says the experience has been positive and it is continuing to adapt the app to customer feedback.

“Early signs show that, we have seen Hotwire customers re-engage a lot more when they use our app. Loyalty is higher for app users and users like to explore more app-specific features like reviews and mobile-only deals,” the company says in a statement.

“We wanted to create something that would help customers get a taste of the app experience in the App Clip so that they can transition over to the app from mobile web to get these benefits.”

Ultimately, says AppsFlyer’s Raviv, it’s all about lowering the “install barrier,” which “dramatically expands the situations where a brand’s app can offer value,” he says.

“While this will definitely result in more full app installs downstream, the underlying goal is engagement and value. Brands that thoughtfully leverage App Clips are going to have a lot of opportunity to increase engagement and value, whether it takes place in the App Clip or the full app.”

This article was published on PhocusWire.com

February 19, 2021

13 Expert Tips For Boosting Your Company’s Mobile Site Performance And UX

With the proliferation of smartphones and personal devices, “mobile-first” has become the watchword when it comes to website design for optimal user experience. Businesses must ensure their websites are just as responsive, appealing and easy to navigate on mobile devices as they are on desktop computers—if not more so.

To succeed, it’s important to not only adopt strategies specific to mobile design but also to follow good practices for serving users on any device. To help, 13 experts from Forbes Technology Council share their best tips for optimizing modern websites and designing them for the mobile era.

1. Understand your users.

“User experience” begins with “user.” Understand them. Create a story or narrative that represents their good day and create one that represents their bad day. Those stories become the lens through which you can create an experience that addresses your users’ needs. - Tim Mitrovich, Artisan

2. Consider edge data methods.

You need a clear data strategy and a robust data architecture. Otherwise, your app will be making massive data calls to the backend. Cached data is not great for app performance, so do look at edge data methods to serve the right data at the right time for optimal customer experience. - Jacqueline Teo, HGC Global Communications

3. Create a quick and simple path to your call to action.

Ensure a clear and simple flow for each persona use case. In the browser, we had three-click aspirations. On mobile, we’ve changed that to three swipes for the user to see the clearly understood and interactive button or call to action. - Gavin McMurdo, IStreamPlanet

4. Keep your operating systems and applications up to date.

One best tip for companies trying to improve their mobile sites’ performance or UX is to ensure that all servers are running the latest operating systems and applications. Frequently patching and updating the underlying infrastructure of mobile sites will provide the latest features and the most-up-to-date security posture, mitigating known vulnerabilities that might be exploitable in the wild. - Bob Fabien ZingaDirectly, Inc./U.S. Navy Reserve

5. Invest in progressive loading.

Progressive loading (a.k.a. lazyload) can help capture your users’ attention quickly by allowing your website to show meaningful content as soon as possible. From there, load in advance what your user will see next. By continuing to prioritize the loading of resources according to when your user will need them, the entire experience will feel much snappier. - Amy Czuchlewski, Bottle Rocket

6. Know your audience and which devices they use to interact with you.

As an enterprise business-to-business SaaS solution, we looked at our data and found that 95% of our visitors are on desktop. Because of that, we focus on the desktop first. If your data says mobile devices are what your visitors primarily use—which is typically true for business-to-consumer products—then really focus on a solid mobile UX or an app. - Richard Kahn, Anura Solutions, LLC

7. Get right to the point with your message.

A lot of mobile development focuses on UX, which is incredibly important, but the message is king. Spending as much or more time on immediately and effectively getting your most important messages to your audience is vital. UX plays a role in this. But having UX and your content/messaging strategy work in unison is the Holy Grail of mobile development. - James Draper, Bidstack

8. Understand the difference between responsive design and mobile-first design.

There is a difference between a responsively designed platform and a mobile-first platform—and the distinction is important. Most companies focus on compliance and the ability of their platform to respond to a smaller form factor such as a phone. Mobile-first design asks, “How do the needs of people differ when they’re using a phone?” Mobile-first considers that features may differ on mobile versus desktop. - Pierce Brantley, Cytracom

9. Make decisions based on data, not trends.

When you decide to make changes or improvements to your mobile site, don’t just stick to the “latest trends.” Make decisions based on the real data you’ve collected on how your users or site visitors interact with your website. Measure first, then optimize. - Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround

10. Decouple your mobile strategy from your desktop strategy.

Website strategy for mobile should be totally decoupled from your primary website, with only the message and brand being constants. What you’re trying to say has an impact on the potential direction your team can take the design. Accessibility is not really front of mind—most often, mobile visitors appreciate content that speaks to them literally. Animations and voice-overs keep you in control. - Raymond Hicks5thColumn Inc.

11. Design your site based on your customers’ behavior.

Know your customers. Learn and analyze the way they use your products. Which browsers, which devices and which platforms do they prefer? Do they usually use the product during the day or at night? Do they prefer a horizontal (tablet) or vertical (smartphone) view? All these factors should help you design a better product that best suits your customers. - Ariel Rosenfeld, 3d Signals

12. Keep the design clean.

Minimalism is the word when it comes to smaller screens. Stick with simple one-column designs if you can. Check all elements for redundancy. Be very frugal with information—especially above the fold—but be generous with call-to-action elements. Give links and buttons good breathing room. Similarly, for forms, keep the number of fields to a minimum; use more checkboxes and fewer typing fields. - Vikram Joshi, pulsd

13. Get expert help.

Bring in outside expertise, and make sure your internal leaders are there to be the bridge, not subject matter experts. Be the experts about the business, but let the experts from outside handle the design, as this is what they do day in and day out. We often try to become the SMEs for a “solution” when we should simply be the business SMEs who help and guide the outside experts. - Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.

This article was published on Forbes.com

February 8, 2021

11 Of The Top IT Investments Businesses Will Make In 2021

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