Digital Transformation Goals for 2021

The pandemic took businesses and enterprises to school about the importance of digital transformation – and in 2021, they’re putting what they’ve learned into action.


Digital transformation has trended across vertical markets for some time, resulting in greater efficiency, product quality and competitiveness. A digitally transformed business replaces manual processes with technology-driven work that enables time-saving, automation and greater accuracy. Many companies had planned to reach specific digital transformation goals by key dates – but 2020 forced changes in those roadmaps.

These industry leaders share their insights on how your clients’ view of digital transformation has changed in the past 12 months and what you can expect in 2021.

Digital transformation timelines accelerate

Matt Kunkel, CEO of LogicGate, says, “Because of our pandemic-forced, digital-first work environment, businesses have been forced to compress their digital transformation timelines, producing an uptick in cloud-based investments.”

He points out that Synergy Research Group reported that through the first quarter of 2020, corporate spending on cloud infrastructure services reached $29 billion, a 37 percent increase over Q1 2019. “Increased demand for cloud services and emphasis on digital transformation initiatives throughout the first and second quarters of the year not only heighten the importance of governance, risk and compliance now but also as we look toward 2021 and beyond.”

Work from home and hybrid workforces continue to drive digitization

Neal Gottsacker, Chief Product Officer at Nintex, says, “In 2020, businesses began seriously investing in technologies that allow their workers to be accessible and efficient from anywhere in the world. This trend will continue into 2021 as hybrid, and fully remote workplaces become the industry standard, and more work is done on mobile devices.”

He adds, “5G services will enhance these mobile capabilities and once fully implemented, enable even more responsive and rich experiences in the future.”

Enterprises will recognize the network is foundational for digital transformation

David Cheriton, CEO and co-founder of Apstra, says businesses’ push to reach their digital transformation goals will lead to greater private cloud, edge computing, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud and improved automated management. “And which software is best to manage their networks will be the first question in 2021 for new deployments,”  he says.

He adds, “The convergence around Ethernet and Wi-Fi will continue, along with the usual speeds and feeds improvements, but multi-vendor networks will become increasingly important for best-of-breed and cost-savings, with open source such as SONiC and white boxes playing an increasing role for the latter. And network outages will continue to make headlines, especially for those that fail to make good progress with automated management.”

Organizations redefine IT

Several industry leaders see a need for IT departments to shift their thinking to allow their organizations to reach their digital transformation goals.

Eric Prugh, co-founder and CPO of PactSafe, comments, “Over the next several years, massive automation will be a big focus for CIOs. The pandemic heightened the priority of automation for IT departments. If IT teams want to keep up, they need to not just invest in projects that move the needle from a digital perspective, but they also need to look to transform the way digital is implemented in their business.”

David Karandish, CEO of Capacity, adds, “2021 will be the death of the point solution. Organizations are exhausted at the prospect of working with yet another vendor to solve yet another business problem with existing tech stacks. Instead, organizations will look to vendors that take a holistic approach to their problem sets.”

Marco Palladino, CTO and co-founder of Kong, anticipates that more tech professionals will be involved in the early stages of IT projects. “Architects play a pivotal role in enabling enterprise digital transformations—and the C-suite has taken notice of their expertise. Architects have become trusted advisors to the executive management team, and they will increasingly guide IT purchase decisions in 2021 and beyond. While executives will remain in charge of the overall global budget, more and more of it is being allocated to the architects in such a way that senior leaders do not have to be involved in every tech decision.”

In addition, Christine Spang, CTO and co-founder of Nylas, says, “As we become more and more reliant on digital services across the business landscape, we will see more developer-like tasks integrated into job roles across all departments. People who didn’t think of themselves as developers are now in a position where they must essentially build software to accomplish their job. For example, marketing teams are now optimizing ad spend and developing websites. At the core, these tasks are the simplest form of software development. As a result, we are going to see developers embedded throughout teams to support growing digital needs rather than being confined to the IT department.” 

Data collection and analysis align with digital transformation goals

Warren Linscott, SVP of Product Strategy at Deltek, says, “Along with digital transformation comes more data. The field of data science has exploded in the last decade, and that trend will only continue. There is a wide range of new titles in this discipline and a wide range of tools and technology to go along with it.  Data is the bedrock that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are based on. Without a strong competency in the data sciences, companies will be left behind the competition.

Heikki Nousiainen, CTO at Aiven, says businesses and enterprises will be more strategic about data collection and analysis: “The growth of IoT will continue rapidly in 2021, dependent on where sensors are able to be placed and what kind of data we can collect. Everything will be more connected, so we’ll see more ways to use that information, which will increase the demand for analytical capabilities. For example, predicting failures in big diesel engines that move freight ships across the ocean — anytime we can predict those failures will be beneficial.”

Tim McKinnon, CEO at CloudCheckr, adds, “Businesses will continue to seek more intelligence and analysis. Insights into how resources are used, where spend is occurring and why that spend occurs will become more important, especially in the cloud. This will become especially key as more workloads shift online permanently as physical facilities become less in vogue. The result will be a LOT of data, and making sense of it will be a continual challenge, so analytics of this type will likely focus on being actionable vs. just data-driven.”

Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is co-founder of XaaS Journal and DevPro Journal.

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is co-founder of XaaS Journal and DevPro Journal.