Digital technology is still evolving at a rapid rate, and its progression is sure to continue throughout 2021 and beyond. Tech has not only transformed the way that people live their lives, but it has also been the driving force behind significant changes in business. Most industries have been heavily impacted by tech, and the sectors that have embraced digital are the ones that have enjoyed the greatest success. With all that in mind, which digital industries are expected by many to enjoy significant commercial growth during 2021?
The way that people pay for goods and services has changed massively in recent years, with digital payments now dominating the landscape. This has been particularly prevalent in the gambling industry, with online bingo operators amongst a plethora of businesses who have embraced digital tech. Credit, debit cards and e-Wallets have proved to be hugely popular, but the next year has been forecast to see a shift towards a different type of payment method.
Vasilije Lekovic, Director of Gaming at Trustly, says the UK has been lagging behind European markets in Open Banking payments but expects that to be rectified during 2021. “Thanks to PSD2 and domestic standardisation initiatives, all consumers in the UK can now use services like Trustly to easily make purchases directly from their bank account…Now, UK players can get in action faster and skip the process of entering long card numbers and extended KYC information. While card payments are still by far the most popular payment option in the UK, I think that will change quickly when people see how safe and easy Open Banking payments are. That’s especially true of young, ‘digital native’ players who demand a modern experience.”
Many industry experts are predicting that connected televisions (CTVs) have the potential to revolutionise the digital marketing landscape. The European market for CTV advertising is currently underutilised, but a new group backed by Google, IPONWEB Roku and Fincons Group aims to rectify this. The European Connected TV Initiative will bring together broadcasters, technology providers, advertisers, agencies and trade bodies to explore the opportunities.
Oliver Botti, Strategic Marketing and Innovation Executive Director at Fincons, believes that more marketing budgets will be directed towards CTVs over the coming year. “TV is still one of the most powerful advertising channels, but advertisers want to be able to connect TV ads to cross-platform campaigns and want to leverage identity, in compliance with privacy laws,” he told The Drum. CTVs are an essential part of the plan, bridging the gap between traditional TV and the digital media mix. We have been working with early moving broadcasters and brands leveraging CTVs as a way of driving this new cross-channel approach. This is creating the basis for both new interactive ad products and TV formats that can reach consumers across their different viewership habits.”
Fitness technology has been a hugely lucrative sector for some time now, and this trend is expected to continue throughout 2021. Sales of products such as Apple Watches and Fitbits remain healthy, while downloads of fitness apps rose massively this year. However, the biggest shift in habits has been in the number of people who keep fit remotely as opposed to visiting gyms. This has led to massive success for the likes of Peloton, and with new products on the horizon the company should enjoy further growth next year.
Some experts have forecast that many fitness fans will start to mix in-studio classes with at-home workouts over the next months, sparking another potential craze. “2021 will be the year of hybrid fitness,” Phil Coxon, Managing Director at EMEA, told Welltodo. We surveyed consumers in September and found that although they have missed in-person classes greatly, 75% said they’d continue taking virtual classes in addition to returning to their studios. Consumers love the affordability and accessibility of online classes, and this has been proven by the skyrocketing demand we have seen for our virtual wellness platform. I’m hopeful that as life returns to normal in 2021, virtual classes and content will continue to grow in popularity.”
Live Music Streaming
The way that music arts engage with their fans could be set for a radical shift during 2021 as they strive to find new strands of revenue. Digital streaming services such as Spotify have made it difficult for musicians to profit from album releases, placing increasing emphasis on staging successful tours. However, some artists have started to explore live streaming platforms as a way of connecting with fans, and more will follow suit next year. Tour organiser, Harry Parslow, has worked with numerous acts in recent years including Xzibit, Charlie Sloth, Danny Howard and Ministry of Sound.
Parslow says that while live gigs will remain popular, he expects more artists to add live-streamed performances into the mix in 2021: “I do firmly believe that you still can’t beat a live performance, so I think we are safe knowing that they will return,” he said. “Going to a concert, meeting new people, going out for drinks before and making a day of it is so important. Zoom can’t compete with that, either for the artist or the fan. However, live streaming is a great way of bringing a musician’s experience to their fans on a global scale, and from the audience’s perspective, they can still get to enjoy their favourite artist while being in the comfort of their own home.”
Health expert Paul Beatus believes that more countries will follow the lead of Germany and Sweden in hosting ‘health hubs’ during 2021. He highlighted the success of the Digital Health Hub at Nuremberg/Erlangen, which has proven to be an ideal platform for innovations to come to market. It features more than 500 medical technology companies, 80 research institutions, 65 hospitals, SMEs and global players and the Friedrich Alexander University.
Beatus, who is the CEO & Co-founder of H2 Health Hub, a digital health coworking space in Stockholm, says that this type of collaboration will significantly benefit the healthcare industry. “Innovation and growth happens much faster in places where you have a critical mass and access to key players, everything from investors to partners,” he said. “In places like hubs you also get the chance to build relationships and create connections. In most countries, there is no established process for how to buy, implement, and evaluate digital health technologies on a wider scale. We find that the true experts on this are those startups that manage to successfully navigate the systems and implement digital solutions with good effect.”