2021: All Bets Are Off

Every year, business leaders take time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the next. By following trends and predictions, they can adjust their business objectives for the year to come. To say that 2020 was an unpredictable year would be a great understatement. When contemplating what lies ahead in 2021, it is safe to say that all bets are off.

Little has been left untouched by the pandemic. While a vaccine is anticipated to be available to the primary population in late spring, until this takes place, we can expect that life will continue as is. If the vaccine rolls out according to plan, then we have another 90-120 days until we reach some level of herd immunity and immunization before we can go back to normal – which will be our new “new normal.” And this is all based on current scientific community thoughts which ultimately will evolve as more is learned about the vaccine and its impact on the virus and our lives.

The questions on many individuals’ minds are: What will that new normal look like? What is going to happen to our business world? Are we ever going to return to physical office spaces? These questions shed light on one certainty in the new year – technology infrastructure requirements in 2021. Technology must keep pace to support remote business while scaling to meet organizations’ needs, especially with many considering the possibility of never returning to the office again.

Furthermore, many wonder how this will impact our culture in the financial services space. For years, digital has been the hot trend for banks and credit unions and now we have to ask ourselves if customers will ever feel comfortable going into branches again or is that element of banking going to continue to devolve in the wake of COVID-19.

Another consideration will be how financial institutions conduct transactions in branch. Prior to the pandemic, tablet devices were being leveraged to provide a dynamic customer experience enabling users to read the whole document, consent and sign. In the future, even in-person interactions may be conducted differently in order to remove contact with institution-owned devices. In-branch transactions may well be performed via remote signature methods so that customer can access documents through their email on their own personal devices, ensuring their safety and helping institutions better manage hygiene in branch.

One thing is certain, there will continue to be influence from the pandemic in the year if not years to come. This influence will be felt in how technology changes and the applications of new technology are implemented depending on how society has fallen out from the pandemic. 2020 has been a life-changing year and its effects will last as we move out of the pandemic and into a window of sensitivity before ultimately reaching our new normal. We will remember this year for the rest of our lives as it taught us how to keep moving forward as people and businesses, and how technology assisted us in doing so. In 2021, all bets for what lies ahead might be off, but you can bet that technological innovation will remain an essential part of our day to day lives – at home and for conducting financial transactions.