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As the pandemic redefined society, agility, digital preparedness and resiliency became the formula for a new era of sustainable digital transformation and resiliency, according to a new report from Kin + Carta.

The fifth annual 2021 Change Report presents a snapshot of how the world is changing, what this means for business leaders and the theme that change presents opportunity for the good of people, profit and planet, the U.K.-based global digital transformation advisory firm said.

It makes the case that organizations have begun democratizing data, which empowers people to do more with it.

“More accessible data by way of well-structured, well-managed warehouses and marketplaces means more options for people, more potential for projects, and more of a common language around internal processes and the ways data sets are used,” the report said.

SEE: Failing to digitize customer engagement would have negatively impacted most enterprises’ business in 2020 (TechRepublic)

It also notes that the pandemic brought progress alongside its failures in that “it shed light on what is most important to people, it sped up innovation, and forced huge technological advancements,” according to the firm. The forces of change that businesses have to navigate as a result are permanent, consequential and constantly moving forward, Kin + Carta said.

“While everyone talks about the unprecedented change in our world, we believe it’s critical to look beyond the headlines to understand the compelling forces driving those changes,” Kelly Manthey, group chief executive of Kin + Carta, said in a statement.

The global business ecosystem is experiencing much more than just a shift in trends, Manthey added. The report breaks down the complexities that will impact business and humanity in the coming years, while presenting actionable ways business leaders can reshape their current realities and reimagine their future.

The report covers nine themes in three categories: How we interact, how we problem solve and how businesses engage customers:

  1. Investing in tomorrow’s workplace: The lockdown accelerated our need to rethink and redesign the way we work and the way our workplaces are built from offices and warehouses to even cars. What will the workspace of the future look like in the next five years?

  2. The turn of the MACH: Companies have been migrating to the cloud for some time now, but not everyone is seeing the benefits. The upcoming years will be led by a mindset shift toward software as a service, with innovation led by internal teams instead of solely by vendors.

  3. The great inclusion—bridging the digital divide: The pandemic shed light on the limitations in digital experiences for underrepresented groups, and their repercussions for our communities and our environment. As a result, inclusive design and sustainable development have become a standard, and businesses have an opportunity to lead by becoming an example and by helping bridge the digital divide.

  4. When physical met digital: Shopping experiences are shapeshifting and the line between physical and digital is becoming blurrier as companies adopt new technologies to build seamless, interactive and personalized commerce platforms for their customers.

  5. Contactless economy: As people keep a safe distance, suddenly stopped using cash, for fear that it will spread COVID-19, contactless payment has gone from convenience to necessity overnight. What new technologies are being enabled as a result of this cultural change and how will this look like for businesses and consumers?

  6. Data democratization: Digitally mature companies understand data as a service and a knowledge asset that must be accessed, analyzed and reported by everyone who has a need for information. What will this look like for companies that decide to embrace a democratized data marketplace?

  7. The agile evolution: As supply chains, commercial strategies and entire business models face unprecedented challenges, companies are opening their doors to flexible, resilient and innovative processes, channels and partnerships to keep their head above the water.

  8. Hyperconnected humanity: Connectivity is vital to a future managed and shaped by smart hardware and 5G is pushing the boundary in terms of speed to allow for new ways of using IoT. What will these new device use cases look like? What repercussion will this have on our privacy as our data becomes more and more accessible to any service provider?

  9. Sustainability and the digital do-gooders: We live in a world in which a new doctrine of corporate digital responsibility has the potential to change the way we do business for the better. The people demand it for the sake of equality and quality of life. How seriously brands take that responsibility is transforming their relationships with people and, as a result, altering their impact on an ever-changing world.

“As we look ahead, we believe we’ll see greater strides toward sustainable digital transformation across all industries, as businesses keep building resiliently toward a utopian outcome,” the report said.