The Role Tech Trends Will Play in 2021 Marketing Initiatives

By Peggy Tierney Galvin, Director 

Many of us were happy to bid adieu to 2020, for many reasons. Although some of the most disruptive trends from last year have spilled over to 2021 – most obviously the COVID pandemic and its fallout – macro trends are looking rosy and keeping B2B marketers on their toes trying to plan their marketing mix for the year 

Let’s take a look at three early-stage tech trends for 2021 and their implications for the industry: 

  • New consumer data privacy updates that emphasize compliance and infosec program standards  
  • The possibility of ending Section 230 to create accountability for threats inflamed by social media  
  • New leadership opportunities brought by increased/shifting responsibilities for CMOs due to the shift to a primarily digital economy 

Recent consumer data privacy policy updates will impact the digital economy  

Two states have now passed consumer data privacy regulations, including the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which expands the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Virginia’s passing of the Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) in February 2021. In addition10 more states are on track to pass new data privacy laws of their own.  

New consumer data regulations mean businesses will have to meet updated compliance standards. That means organizations will need strong information security programs in place to meet these standards. 

A robust information security program ensures that organizations have the controls in place to meet compliance requirements, proving that they are secure enough to protect the data of customers and partnersThis has also been an increasing priority in light of massive hacks such as the SolarWinds incident, which emphasized the necessity of ensuring security in order to be a viable business partner in the digital economy. 

The potential upending of Section 230, which protects tech companies from legal liability 

With recent events—particularly the attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6—and talk of accountability for social media-related harm and risk, corporate social media policy/corporate responsibility has been put in the spotlight.  

There is currently talk of ending or replacing Section 230 in order to hold social platforms accountable for the content posted on their sitesSection 230 is part of the Communications Decency Act, and its purpose is to indemnify internet service providers from the same liability that publishers would face for the content on their platforms. But that law went into effect in 1996, and public sentiment has since shifted considerably. 

This has also brought about a greater understanding of the need for organizations to create a defined corporate social media policyBusinesses are looking to monitor employee social media for corporate security but must strike a balance between safety and personal privacy. Phishing campaigns have increased in sophistication, using automation to scrape information across employees’ social accounts to engineer personalized attacks. This increases the need to train workers on social media security hygiene in addition to clarifying what they should not share online about company activities, such as M&A information. 

Increased responsibilities experienced by CMOs in 2020 have led to increased leadership opportunities in marketing 

The pandemic brought new or increased responsibilities to CMOs – including e-commerce, data acquisition, timely messaging and so on – opening doors for new marketing leadership roles in 2021.  

According to LinkedIn research, almost 3/4 of CMOs said they felt their role had changed on account of the pandemic, with 48% expecting to have more influence as a result. Tom Pepper, head of marketing solutions at LinkedIn UK, said, “CMOs have always required a diverse skill set, but it appears they’ll be taking on even more responsibilities in 2021.” 

Digital marketing is constantly evolving, but the pandemic has placed an extra emphasis on its impact in an organizations success, considering the digital nature of today’s economyAs a resultnew roles in marketing will emerge as a reflection of the increasing importance of digital marketing and new responsibilities heaped on CMOs.  

Responding to tech trends 

Thus far, the tech trends of 2021 are focused on stronger security and compliance, the possibility of greater liability relating to social media and the certainty of greater responsibility for marketing professionals. The development of these trends will impact the scope and strategy of tech and digital marketing for the remainder of the year.  

As always, CMOs will play a pivotal role in determining the success of the organization by creating the strongest, data-driven strategies possible. Marketing pros have had to take on additional duties and/or areas of expertise in response to the heavy reliance on digital marketing resulting from the pandemic. Even as the economy begins to open up again, most experts agree that life and business will not suddenly return to “normal.” Marketing leaders will need to constantly keep their fingers on the pulse of the tech market to quickly adjust to whatever the post-pandemic environment looks like. 

If you’re interested in new ideas and fresh thinking to energize your marketing program in 2021, we’re here for you. Feel free to reach out here