2021 Predictions

Published December 31, 2020
4 min

I’d like to start making annual predictions. I think there’s a lot of value in hearing a variety of opinions about my forecasts.

Here are 6 predictions for 2021.

A Drone in the Sunset

Drones Gain Momentum

I’ve heard a lot of reasons why drones won’t work, from physics to legal to economics. I think 2021 is going to be the start of a snowball where that negativity around the feasibility of drones begins to shift.

Instead of saying “It won’t work because of X”, people will begin to say “It could work if we do Y” or “It could work in usecase Z”.

Seeing is believing, and a lot of people are going to start believing in drones in 2021.

SAAS Knocks It Out of the Park

For 2021, SAAS is looking bright. Advertising-based business models are under siege from multiple fronts and it’s finally time to ask users to pay with their cash, not privacy.

When the App Store launched, it took consumers a few years to acclimate to paying $0.99 for an app. Slowly but surely, the same thing is happening with subscription models.

With software-as-a-service, users are the customer, not the product. It’s a tectonic shift in how companies treat and view their relationship with users.

Coronavirus Vaccination Stumbles

A great deal of the population is going to get vaccinated. This is finally going to reduce the virality coefficient R0 of Coronavirus below 1, meaning the virus will peak, and slowly begin to decline.

However, we will not eliminate Coronavirus in 2021. Additionally, a huge portion of the population of the population is going to either:

  1. Not get vaccinated
  2. Fail to get the follow-up shot. The second shot raises immunity from roughly 50% to 95%

This means that Coronavirus is here to stay in 2021. Protect yourself and get your second shot.

Company Cultures Begin to Stagnate

One of the hardest parts about remote work is company culture.

A great deal of water-cooler conversation is not happening and things that used to be a tap on the shoulder now require writing down or calling.

Organizations that do not adapt to remote work are going to start losing their culture and motivation. They will continue on as zombies, economic machines stumbling around without a heart.

People are going to begin burning out from this pressure.

Therapists and puppies are going to be in hot demand.

Economic Submarine: The Education Pipeline

A record number of students took a gap year in 2020. It varies by school and source, but a common number I have seen for enrollment decline is 15%.

In four years, any business based on a pipeline of graduating college students is going to experience a shockwave. Grad schools, consulting firms, startups, and tech companies are all going to be competing for a smaller pool of talent.

This is exacerbated by any organization that looks beyond mere credentialing and relies on real capability: on average, Zoom degrees are inferior.

Top organizations which were oversubscribed are still going to be able to meet their targets, which means that this shrinkage is going to be absorbed by less competitive organizations.

Rust Continues to Rocket

Rust currently has a tiny market share. I’ve seen enough to feel confident that this language is going to continue to grow at rocket speed.

Rust has a steep learning curve. However, the value provided by Rust is too big to ignore and as companies explore it a positive feedback loop will occur with the talent pool and ecosystem.

Conclusions

2021 is primed to be a transformational year. Just about every aspect of our lives have been touched by the pandemic - education, employment, dating, dining, recreation and shopping.

The shift to remote work is just beginning. New best practices in the workplace for things like hiring, 1 on 1’s and team building exercises are going to emerge in 2021. It won’t be until the talent pool circulates and cross-pollinates the good ideas that remote work will really begin to thrive at scale.

Some people view 2020 as a blip, where we’ll get vaccinated and go back to in-person activities in 2021. However, major shifts have already occurred. Companies are figuring out remote work. People are changing the way they eat and exercise. Ecommerce is becoming the default way to shop for millions of new people. The ripple impacts are going to be felt not only in 2021, but for years to come.

Bottom line: no one is shipping back their Peloton.

I’d love to hear your perspective on these predictions.

With thanks to Danny Laurence for reading initial drafts of this post