By ZoomInfo’s Editorial Team
The events of 2020 accelerated economic, social, and business trends at a dizzying pace. Emerging practices like working from home or undergoing diversity and inclusion training went from niche to nationwide adoption within months.
Using ZoomInfo’s database, we tracked real-time shifts in how corporate America engaged with employees, grew companies, and went to market.
This recap provides 10 insights into the new economy and strategies to excel within it.
1. Recipients of early-stage funding will go-to-market and expand in 2021
The main takeaway: Companies that accepted transformation amid the turbulence, find themselves in a better position for 2021. Given that angel and seed funding went up 27% YOY; Series A funding went up 15%; Series B funding went up 8% — we predict that recipients of early-stage funding will go-to-market and expand in 2021 as a new generation of “post-COVID companies.”
What others say: “While it’s likely that startups will need extra support, it’s also well known that some of the best venture-backed businesses were founded and funded in recessionary times,” David Blumberg, founder and managing partner at Blumberg Capital, wrote for Crunchbase News in May 2020.
2. The value — and persistence of funding and investments
The main takeaway: Despite the pandemic, investment in companies remains strong going into 2021, especially for startups. However, this money does not come without attachments as investors and the public watch for social justice initiatives and new ways of doing business.
We predict that social impact investors wanting to see change may be inclined to continue funding charities and other nonprofits organizations as they did in 2020. Moreover, legal fights pitting large tech giants against smaller software companies (e.g., Apple vs. Epic Games) could influence how much investors are willing to fund smaller companies.
3. After the pandemic hit, businesses added more eCommerce shopping carts
The main takeaway: The fight to find new customers and retain existing ones is the biggest business challenge ahead for many companies. We predict that technology will continue to play a part in fostering buyer allegiance and building brands in the “new normal.”
What ZoomInfo says: ZoomInfo found that companies expanded their use of shopping cart technology during the pandemic. An average of just under 48,000 companies per month in ZoomInfo’s database added shopping cart technology from March-August 2020, compared to only around 36,500 companies per month from January-February 2020, an increase of more than 30%.
4. Web conferencing sees the biggest increase compared to other work-from-home technologies
The main takeaway: Employees changed the narrative about remote productivity via a strong uptick in web conferencing while also pushing on companies to make changes based on social unrest. We predict that workers will demand a new environment that emphasizes flexibility and matches up to their own personal beliefs on equality.
What others say: “Prepare to support a virtual workforce permanently… One IT leader told [Forrester]: ’In our culture, the prevailing wisdom was that you could never provide the service we do without being in the office. Having to deliver it remotely has shattered that belief.’” — Forrester Report, Returning To Work: How To Prepare For Pandemic Recovery, April 20, 2020
5. Zoom technologies outpaces competitors
The main takeaway: 2020 saw a surge in remote tech adoption, with web conferencing and back-office tools seeing impressive growth. While Docusign and ADP initially increased ~50%, from the end of May to the end of June, Zoom Video Conferencing lead and continues to lead the charge in these categories.
Our predictions? Zoom is here to stay; so is remote work, and, predictably, a decline in business travel. In 2021, as companies continue to move more functions online, employees will internalize a more virtual — and flexible — mindset and lifestyle in parallel to the digitization of businesses.
What others say: “Business execs… will demand that IT accelerate roadmaps for app and infrastructure modernization, a high-performance network, high-availability architectures, automation for speed and reliability, and cloud for scale and flexibility. They’ll also take an interest in once unexciting technologies like videoconferencing and collaboration tools, phone services, VPNs, and virtual desktops.” — Forrester Report, Returning To Work: How To Prepare For Pandemic Recovery, April 20, 2020
6. Diversity and inclusion roles resurface
The main takeaway: From a rising number of job titles within the field to higher rates of online research conducted on the topic, corporate America shows slow but steady growth in prioritizing diversity and inclusion (D&I). In the first half of 2020, only around 40% of Fortune 500 companies employed director titles with “diversity” and “inclusion.” The last half of 2020, however, saw the number of people in “diversity” and “inclusion” increase by nearly ~200%.
We predict that Fortune 500 companies without D&I execs is a trend that probably will not be able to continue for much longer. We expect to see more codified language and policies within companies about non-discriminatory hiring, more implicit biases training, and more public expressions of companies’ values.
What others say: “The pandemic is not agnostic to issues of power, privilege, or equity…This is a clear example of the very issues that diversity and inclusion initiatives are designed to address.” — Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Chief Diversity Officer
7. A speck of promise for women in the workforce
The main takeaway: 3:2 is the ratio of men to women for getting promoted to manager; 4:1 is the ratio of men to women for getting promoted to CEO. For women in the workforce, the promotion gap is still a problem. The pandemic has also highlighted the gender imbalances that still exist in the workplace, given how it has been more disruptful to womens’ careers than it has to mens’. Over time, though, the numbers show improvement.
In 2021, we predict that the aftermath of the pandemic will continue to highlight current gender imbalances in the workplace as women return to work at a slower rate than men.
What others say: “When you see the state of California mandating diversity on boards, it’s because there’s been a failure,” Pao told The Muse. “There’s all this information out there, we know there are financial and long-term benefits to diversity on boards and executive teams — and yet some people still can’t make it happen.”
8. More product releases in 2020 than in the prior two years
The main takeaway: Medium companies released almost 10% less new products as of September 2020 compared to 2019, while small companies and enterprises saw the reverse trend, seeing increases in new launches in 2020.
Going into 2021, medium-sized companies will play catch-up to smaller and larger firms when it comes to new product releases. In recent years, mid-market organizations have released far less new products than other companies, and this lack of innovation brings long-term risks. We predict that with a lack of new products going into 2021, mid-market companies may have fewer new customers and perhaps less loyal existing buyers.
What others say: “It’s tough being mid-market,” according to accounting services firm Praxity. “Too big to take advantage of government handouts and business breaks, and too small to have the influence and power of global giants … many [mid-sized businesses] receive little support in an increasingly competitive, regulated, and technology-focused world.”
9. Customer experience and loyalty inititiaves are on the rise
The main takeaway: Since March 2020, brands with loyal following outperformed their competitors. What’s more, employees at nearly 10% of Fortune 500 companies searched for at least one loyalty-based topic from March to July 2020.
It’s clear that maintaining brand loyalty and serving a superior customer experience proved to be an effective strategy for surviving and thriving in the year of the pandemic. At least in part, the pandemic is driving the need for businesses to increase customer loyalty through creative, timely, and useful cross-selling initiatives. We predict that capitalizing on customer engagement efforts will be high on the to-do list of any company implementing go-to-market initiatives in 2021.
What others say: According to Gartner, “In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, marketers are exhibiting a range of responses beyond creating COVID-19-specific content. B2B marketing leaders are most often signaling enhancements to customer listening and digital capabilities, while B2C marketing leaders most frequently indicate altering customer experiences and changing customer-facing policies.” Gartner, How Marketers Are Adapting to Disruption During COVID-19: Findings From the 2020 Customer Loyalty and Management Marketing Poll, September 2020.
10. Companies are more likely to succeed with a focus on product quality and the needs of existing customers
The main takeaway: In 2020, Zoom experienced a 418% growth in adoption rate as a direct result of the working-from-home transition. Their sudden success is not likely due to an overwrought marketing strategy — since their approach has been fairly minimalist — but instead a focus on product quality and serving the needs of existing customers.
In the face of the pandemic, one of the most effective ways (and for some companies, the only way) to attract new customers and penetrate new markets is through digitization. If funneling marketing efforts, transactions, and services online was important before, but now it’s nearly a necessity. Therefore, we predict that companies that put existing customers first are likely to continue to grow.
What others say: “…being customer-obsessed alone is insufficient; to succeed, you must change the way you conceive and build new products as a digital business. At its heart, becoming a digital business involves reshaping today’s business using emerging technologies to deliver better products and services to customers, creating differentiated customer value. Today’s disruptive companies develop product and service strategies to improve customer outcomes.” — Forrester Research Report, Design Disruptive Products That Help Customers Achieve High-Value Outcomes, August 24, 2020
Well, folks, that’s a wrap on all things go-to-market data in 2020 — and our early predictions for 2021. Keep checking back for more insightful, data-driven stories.
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