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While COVID-19 has infiltrated every aspect of our lives this year — from the way we work to the way we socialize to the way we grocery shop — one thing is for certain: the evolution of emerging technology is not slowing down. In fact, the Merritt Group Emerging Technology Group has seen a rise in technologies that will help us collaborate, market and work more productively and efficiently with our clients over the last several months.

It’s actually interesting to read our 2020 predictions as a backdrop. Written from a pre-COVID perspective, our team saw many opportunities for the state of artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing and micro-mobility to take off. With these emerging technologies in mind, combined with the economic landscape and news cycles that COVID-19 has created, we have predictions about the way 2021 will unfold in our practice – and what this all means for marketing and PR pros in the space. 

Drop a comment below and let us know if you agree or disagree – we love a healthy debate!

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Education technology will skyrocket even further.

Education Technology (EdTech) innovation has been one of the unforeseen bright spots emerging from COVID-19. In March 2020, the CARES Act was signed and it included a $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund. The CARES Act funding combined with VC investment rounds, totaling $706M through July in the U.S. alone, are further fueling an EdTech boom. As school systems continue to adopt digital learning solutions to accommodate new remote and hybrid environments, EdTech companies will see spikes in their business going into 2021. Advancements in AI, virtual reality / augmented reality and gamification, to name a few, will drive this market. For more on how marketers can capitalize on the EdTech and the sector’s potential, check out this report we recently completed. 

The power stays with the customer, regardless of the industry.

While many organizations have suffered layoffs and/or furloughs due to COVID-19, we’ve seen customers align with their most valued brands due to tightened budgets, which has led to a resurgence of brand loyalty. In 2021, we’re going to see that taken up a notch with the rise of user generated content across social channels as a way for brands to promote happy customers’ use cases. Due to the political strife and unrest in 2020, we will also have customers wanting to align political and economic values with the goods they purchase. The onus will be on brands to scale up their approach to customer service with fewer resources, likely driven by AI-based technologies like chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants, and to take a tactful stand on news cycles on which they wouldn’t have otherwise expressed an opinion.

The culture of remote working will continuously shift, hopefully for the better. It’s no surprise that remote work will continue in 2021, in addition to the rise of technologies that facilitate collaboration and productivity. We will also see new and enhanced technologies that will assist with culture—via engagement tools, HR tracking, and professional development. All of these tools will positively build remote corporate cultures to be as strong as possible, mirroring in-person team building. This presents an opportunity for marketers via storytelling around collaboration technology as teams are navigating hybrid work environments and each company develops their own policy. Salesforce’s for example, is a great resource for teams navigating the plight of getting back to an office environment. Marketers in this remote working space are up for the task of painting collaboration tools as the new reality to workplace cultures, rather than a passing phase.

The smart home will emerge as a clear AI storyline focus. Now that we live, work, eat and sleep at home, the Smart Home industry will see a massive spike, all driven by AI. This will employ many aspects of AI-driven technology, from connected devices via IoT, to the strength of home Wi-Fi systems, to home automation and security. An already hot market is primed for an explosion. The explosion of new funding and new areas of AI technology always create a wave of hype, excitement…and unfortunately, market saturation. Marketers in 2021 are poised to ride the smart home boom, but must focus on differentiating their messaging and value proposition. 

Learn more about how Merritt Group’s Emerging Technology Practice can help you raise awareness and convert more leads in 2021.

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