Let’s face it: 2020 was a roller coaster ride. Not only did we see certain industries decimated by COVID (tourism, hospitality, and brick & mortar retail shops to name a few), we also saw an unexpected and unprecedented surge in software sales.
In fact, the software industry did so well in 2020 because of COVID, not despite it. So what’s on the horizon for 2021? Here are our predictions.
Software Sales Will Continue to Rise
Remote work is here to stay, and the hybrid office model will force companies to rethink their software strategies to better manage a distributed workforce for the long-term. The hybrid office will therefore create new opportunities for software vendors beyond the ones we have experienced last year. We know that COVID forced companies in 2020 to push through with digital transformation projects at record speed, and this will continue in 2021. In addition, the fight to remain competitive will be fiercer than ever for businesses, and they will need to invest in new software to help them stay on top. We expect that these drivers will benefit software vendors, making 2021 even better for sales than this year was.
Online Events Are Here to Stay
It seems like a life-time ago that giant-sized events with thousands of attendees were a thing. While some (small-scale) physical events may come back in 2021, large trade shows and industry events are not going to happen right away. Live online events, webinars and webinars on-demand will continue to gain in popularity in 2021 as people continue to educate themselves and network from the comfort of their own homes.
Expanding Channel Partnerships
With or without a vaccine, traveling abroad will remain limited in 2021. This means that local channel partners will continue to play an important role for software vendors both big and small as they take on new responsibilities. The lines between VAR’s, SI’s, MSP’s, and OEM’s will converge and blur as these partnerships expand and shift to better serve the end-user customer. We expect that software vendors will develop new types of ISV-to-ISV relationships to create new revenue streams to ensure growth in the years to come.
Thought Leadership to Improve Content
Content marketing will need to up its’ game in 2021 as our attention is being solicited by a variety of sources left and right. We already have the tendency to filter out what we consider as “noise” (what is not of interest), but this will take on new proportions next year. My theory is that content syndication campaigns to generate loads of top-of-the-funnel leads will provide a lot less value to marketers as end-users will be even more discriminatory when prompted to leave their personal data in exchange for content. In order to stand out from the crowd (and all the noise), it is important to establish thought leadership in your area of expertise, providing access to highly valuable content that speaks to niche target audiences. Customer case studies and success stories will continue to play an integral role in the content marketing arena, as will third-party endorsements in industry publications.
Even though everyone knows that an economic recession is likely to result from the pandemic, marketing budgets in H1 2021 should be maintained. We believe that it is essential to stay the course when it comes to outreach initiatives to ensure a steady pipeline of sales opportunities over time. Decreasing budgets is not advisable, but it’s important that they be used wisely in order to ensure ROI. By analyzing what worked well in 2020 and what didn’t, you can successfully map out your plan for 2021.