Hybrid is the new black
Prediction #4 for 2021
2020 surprised us all with extreme turbulence and digital hyper growth due to the global pandemic. 2021 hopefully will be the year when we return to some kind of new normal, carrying with us several new digital habits and behavioral changes.
As in earlier years, I have curated the most interesting and pressing digital trends for the year to come, which I will reveal in a series of ten articles — this is number 4.
Will we forever live in a hybrid world?
For years, the term ‘hybrid’ has been used about cars that would run both on electricity and petrol. And even though this market is growing very fast and expected to last another ten years, this prediction is not about that.
During the Corona crisis, we have been forced to juggle between physical attendance and digital alternatives. Everything from going to church, Friday prayers, weddings, funerals, court proceedings, asynchronous video-based job interviews, nightlife through Zoom clubs, voting and visiting inmates had to be made possible in both a smaller physical version and digitally.
This has led to an acceptance of, and a desire for, digital alternatives to showing up in the flesh — whether it is at the doctor´s office, in school, at meetings or at conferences.
And for most of us, it has already led to a new hybrid work model, with less time in the office and more time at home. Going forward, this has to be much better supported by remote work technology, so expect a huge rise in the number of services launched in this area. For a list of relevant tools, check out my previous article on the topic: A world-class toolbox for remote working.
Due to Corona, we were forced to develop and to adapt new hybrid formats. And now they are here to stay. It is difficult right now to imagine a conference that won´t have digital access as a supplement or alternative. The same goes for business meetings. We will have to get used to the fact that in future several meeting attendees will be present through Zoom or Teams.
But this leads to new innovations and new opportunities. I imagine that future digital conferences will feel more like participating in a live TV show, like Dancing with the Stars, led by several different hosts with different roles and assignments, live editing between scenes and audiences. These will provide a great alternative to being there live, like when we choose to watch a football match or Formula One from the couch. It´s not the same experience, but in some ways it provides us with a better viewing experience and it´s very convenient.
Some brands allow shopping to be done live from home, interacting directly with in-store clerks, showcasing, advising and preparing everything for your pickup in new BOPIS formats (see TV-shopping on steroids).
Universities are allowing attendance in TED-like formats at a much lower price — sometimes for free.
Fitness classes at the online service Peloton can be attended live by maybe 30 people physically present, but attended digitally by another 3,000. And the instructor still gets to see your performance and to yell at you if you´re too lazy or celebrate you live in the online community if it´s your birthday or your rider nr. 100!
I predict a huge future for hybrid formats, and I urge you to start thinking about how you can serve your audience or customers across a blended physical and digital appearance.