Prediction for 2021 – digital transformation will get a kick up the pandemic

Image credit | mikeledray/

We are firmly in the prediction season, and it will come as no surprise that there is one beneficiary of the pandemic and its knock-on effects.

Digital transformation is skyrocketing. So, too, is its dark side – cyberthreats.

At least two leading research and consultancy firms have come out with the big numbers. IDC, via, predicts that ‘spending on digital transformation between 2021 and 2023 will be a whopping $6.8 trillion’, larger than Japan’s GDP, the third-largest economy in the world.

Deloitte has been having fun, too. It predicts that cloud spending will grow seven times faster than the overall IT spend (see above), edge computing will hit $12 billion, and virtual reality headsets will rise by 100%.

On the dark side, cyberattacks will continue to be nasty and expensive.

Beyond the statistics, however, there are real clues into the depth and breadth of the change that is happening – so fast that it is hard to take in.

For instance, virtual doctors’ visits will be around 400 million in 2021. That kind of prediction provides an insight into how our default behaviour is already changing, and fast. Why we now wonder, would we go and sit in a waiting room at the doctors with sick people in it, when we could show him our sore toe over Zoom. Of course, another benefit is the efficiencies that stretched healthcare systems will enjoy.

One phrase that leapt out of the IDC statistics was that ‘65% of the world’s GDP would be digitised by 2022’. That is an extraordinary prediction and, if it turns out to be true, demonstrates the eye-watering transformation that is happening.

While a prediction is always enjoyable (not as enjoyable as looking back down the years to see what people were predicting in the past), there are some notes of caution to be had.

When ‘all this is over’ physical contact, and physical experiences such as ‘real’ shopping will still be there and seen as luxuries to be enjoyed and savoured, particularly by people who have stopped spending during the pandemic.

Another factor that will throw off even the best prediction is the unpredictable. For instance, as Teresa Cottam points out, the hype of 5G vs its benefits, is actually turning people off it, in the same way, that promises around the first iteration of WAP did. ‘Surf the internet’, they said. ‘Get back in your box’; we said when it was as much like surfing the internet as taking a shower.

More than half a million people in the 5G nirvana of South Korea have switched back to 4G from 5G to back this up.

While it is easy to take a prediction with a pinch of salt, the other issue is that while 65% of GDP might well be digitised by 2022, the real question is whether people will have digitalised (not just digitised) their ideas and ways of life to produce the real benefits.

Our prediction on this is, frankly – no.

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