9 minute read

With 2020 being a year that no one has ever experienced before, it’s no surprise that technology and the digital industry has boomed. As a way of saving their working day and connection to others, many businesses relied on digital technology to bridge the gap between what used to be familiar and what has now become our new normal. Here we have put together six top digital transformation trends to look out for in 2021, and what we can expect from each. The digital transformation industry trends we’ll be exploring in this blog are:

  • 5G
  • Cloud infrastructure
  • Cybersecurity
  • Automation
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Internet of behaviours

Why Do We Need To Embrace The Digital-ready Culture?

Businesses need to operate and succeed online so they don’t get left behind in this digital-ready culture. Digital transformation is a means for organisations to empower themselves and take back the control they may have lost during the pandemic. 

Emerging technology allows businesses to self-serve and deliver solutions quicker. Providing a better digital experience for all, and being able to optimise and future proof their information security and systems in case of another major shift.

Trend #1: 5G

The first digital transformational trend we want to talk about is 5G, which is the next generation of wireless technology. Not only is it faster, but it also offers greater capacity, allowing thousands of devices in a small area to be connected at the same time. Now, it’s strange if a device isn’t operating on 5G.

For the first time, 5G became a major digital solution across the world during the pandemic. Everything we have learnt and been promised about 5G is now being put to the test, as demand for faster connectivity has reached an ultimate high. 5G is trending for its ability to supply users with bandwidth they need to operate from anywhere, at any time, using any device.

Businesses have adjusted their methods of communication as the traditional office has been replaced with remote or hybrid working. As videoconferencing and digital collaboration have become core parts to everyday life, many businesses have had to rely on the internet their employees have at home to replicate the in-the-office work experience.

But for many, it might not have been possible. Until now, 5G is predicted to become mainstream in 2021 for all individuals. In fact Qualcomm, a leader in 5G technology, is helping to make 5G affordable for all smartphone users, offering digital inclusivity and a means for secure and fast connection with others.

Apple iPhone

It’s safe to say that business strategies have changed to survive the impacts of COVID19, but one thing has remained the same across all industries. And that is, the need to be both accessible and productive.

Increasingly, we’ll see how 5G allows users to achieve this, and also capitalise on the business benefits too. But first the transition to a 5G-driven era will require businesses and consumers to invest in 5G technologies in order to achieve a better digital experience. Adopting 5G also allows for more responsive, data-driven services in future, especially as AR/AI becomes a reality in the 5G era.

It’s expected that most tech companies will continue to encourage their workforce to work from home, making 5G internet speed even more instrumental when improving our digital experience that is currently limited by slow internet.

Whilst there were initial setbacks with 5G, many telcos (telecommunications companies) are on track to deliver or exceed their 5G implementation goals. According to Forbes, “there are 380 operators currently investing in 5G’’ and Qualcomm announced that over 60% of devices shipped that quarter were 5G.

Trend #2: Cloud Infrastructure

Businesses have adjusted their methods of communication as the traditional office has been replaced with remote or hybrid working. As videoconferencing and digital collaboration have become core parts to everyday life, many businesses have had to rely on the internet their employees have at home to replicate the in-the-office work experience.

But for many, it might not have been possible. However, there is one digital transformation tool that has protected businesses from losing access to their traditional office information and resources. Cloud infrastructure.

Its technology separates resources from physical hardware and can pool them into clouds. Automation software and management tools allocate these resources and provision new environments so users can access what they need, when they need it.

working from home

Cloud resources are delivered to users via subnetworks, like the internet or an intranet, so you can access cloud services or apps remotely and on demand. This suits remote workers looking to future proof their resources in case of another operational shift and creates money saving opportunities as well. 

During the pandemic, the pressure to reduce operational expense reached an ultimate high. It’s likely that many organisations embraced cloud cost optimisation measures, such as rightsizing resources to align with workloads or eliminating unnecessary cost drivers that may not have received attention previously in order to optimise the digital transformation tool, without overspending.

As users, we have become accustomed to immediate access to information, which is why the most important reason cloud infrastructure is trending across industries is due to accessibility. 

Cloud infrastructure provides digital inclusivity for everyone, no matter where they are. With clouds, you get the benefits of self-service access, automated infrastructure scaling and dynamic resource pools. This provides the user control and the best digital experience from the comfort of their home.

As businesses are increasingly choosing modern approaches when deploying new workloads in the cloud, it will be interesting to see how this digital transformation trend develops over the coming years.

Trend #3: Cyber Security 

It’s no surprise that cyber security has become a major component within digital transformation trends this year. As users, we have never been more vulnerable online. As we adapt to the limitations that COVID-19 has brought, we now share and communicate data and sensitive information more and more each day increasing the potential threat to data security.

Official statistics from the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 reveal ‘’68% of medium size and 75% of large businesses reported cyber security attacks or breaches in the last 12 months.’’

laptop keyboard
This shows that cyber criminals are exploiting digital-first businesses and consumers, making it more vital than ever for organisations to pay close attention to their information security.

If there’s anything we have learnt so far, we know that being able to protect our data and mitigate disruption to our business day is a priority. This requires the help of digital transformation tools and reassessing current security measures in place. Many forward-thinking businesses will be looking at ways to rebuild their systems securely, in the hope to avoid costly data breaches that impact consumer trust and credibility.

As digital transformation advances, there will be emerging technology to address communications and data privacy in more effective ways. Therefore, information security will remain a key concern for all businesses as we move forward.

Emerging technologies like confidential computing are supposed to become mainstream in 2021. The idea of confidential computing is to encrypt the entire computing process, not just the data, creating additional layers of security around sensitive information. Google, Microsoft, IBM, Alibaba and VMware are helping develop new protocols and best practices by way of the Confidential Computing Consortium.

The tech is still in a state of relative infancy, but we can expect digital transformation to push this technology into our society much sooner than we thought, as businesses are more likely to require information security measures like this as a means of protecting their data.

Trend #4: Automation

The impact of COVID-19 has shifted the way in which businesses operate each day. It’s no longer a requirement for employees and production to work from a fixed location. With automation, we are able to replace manual processes with remote processing.

In fact, organisations are under greater pressure to digitise services quickly at scale to meet rising customer demands and create new revenue channels. The risk of not automating may damage the business reputation and productivity.

Automation is essential in this year’s global digital transformation market trends now that remote working is no longer taboo and businesses have been proven to operate successfully using automation tools outside of the traditional workplace.

“70% of service agents believe automating routine tasks would allow them to focus on higher-value work.” Salesforce

Automating internal processes continue to save businesses a significant amount of time and money, allowing better operational efficiency and employee flexibility to focus on more complex tasks that they were initially hired to do.

PDF Automation

An example of automation is PDF automation, which is achieved by applying a wide range of document rules to automate, control output and streamline business processes. PDF automation allows organisations to process time-critical and highly complex communications automatically at speed, saving time and money and freeing strain from an already busy workforce.

Multichannel Communication Platforms

There are many public and private sector organisations that have benefited from automation tools and delivering outbound communications digitally.


For example, when using Aceni, our secure multichannel communication platform, teams can offer the option to print online documents for different recipients. Aceni applications can accept multiple data files from any legacy software development, which reduces implementation time considerably.

Here are some examples of it in action.

Case Study #1

The HR team at a leading company in aerospace were tasked with bridging the gap between processing and distributing employee communications. However, with multiple data files for each of the group’s business units, finding an efficient and cost-effective method was proving difficult.

The switch to online and automating print with Aceni applications has reduced administration time and distribution costs for multiple projects. One project of printing ad-hoc employee wellbeing letters, which previously took 23 hours per working week, now only takes the team one hour per working day.

Case Study #2

As for operations in the financial services industry, a bank was looking for a more efficient process of producing and delivering customer bank statements. With the strain on an internal workforce to deliver the time-critical documents by strict SLAs – and a market that was demanding a digital offering – the organisation needed an improved process.

So Datagraphic made it a priority. Aceni applications now automate their print output and online delivery from a single data file. Printed documents are produced at Datagraphic’s secure UK production centre rather than in-house with online documents hosted on a secure online portal which customers access from an automated email alert.

Within months, the team had switched to an automated multichannel output, reduced internal workload and increased customer engagement. Now, 30% of their customers access their statements online, 24/7.

Trend #5: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Another top digital transformation trend is AI and machine learning, which have dominated the digital industry in recent months as businesses turned to the technology to gain insights into their data analytics. But why? Insights can be gathered from data, offering better understanding of their customers and what areas of their business can be automated.

AI has helped businesses leaders reach what seems like intangible information from the outside and gain a competitive advantage, allowing smaller businesses to compete with larger businesses based on factors, such as customer experience.

virtual reality

According to Salesforce, “62% of consumers are willing to submit their data to AI to improve their customer experience”, which tells us that many consumers are willing to adopt new forms of technology that will bring more convenience into their lives, and better understand themselves and the world around them.

It has been the saviour for many businesses who would have previously relied on their onsite workforce and systems. We have seen the value of AI and machine learning in areas such as speed, scalability, and convenience and this is predicted to continue as more businesses quickly learn how to fit AI into every corner of our daily existence.

Trend #6: Internet Of Behaviours (IoB)

The IoB provides valuable information about customer behaviours, interests and preferences and attempts to understand the data collected from users’ online activity and social media from a behavioural psychology perspective.

Customers are moving away from products and services and towards connected, data-driven digital services and experiences. Everyone from innovative early adopters to the mainstream have gradually accepted digital transformation for what it is becoming.

paying online with credit card

Large enterprises have crossed the experimentation phase and now understand how to deploy digital solutions across their operations or integrate them into global product lines in a way that delivers real value.

This digital transformation trend is forecasted to go global due to how easily the solutions can be implemented and how easily network switching solutions will allow a single global connectivity solution to provide users with the information they need to deliver the best digital experience.

So in 2021 we expect a continuation of this trend as the global economy recovers, leading to more connected devices and therefore systems to gather data from.

Don’t Get Left Behind With Datagraphic

Your outbound communications are often the face of your organisation and are key areas to consider first in your digital transformation journey. You may want to explore digital transformation solutions like Datagraphic’s Aceni application first. It can bolt onto corporate systems and help you drive through a digital strategy and can be implemented without capital expenditure, license fees or lengthy change projects.

We hope you found this blog about digital transformation trends useful and if you have any further questions or need advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.