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ThoughtWorks, a global software consultancy, today released Looking Glass, a guide to the critical technology-driven shifts set to shape business in 2021 and beyond. The report, which incorporates five-years of internal strategy and experiences from real-life client work, offers industry leaders a rare glimpse into how ThoughtWorks keeps the businesses they advise at the forefront of technology and innovation.

“Looking Glass is rich in insight and advice that will allow any business, from any industry, to look ahead at the technology trends impacting customer behavior and the tools driving enterprise growth,” says Dr. Rebecca Parsons, chief technology officer at ThoughtWorks. “ThoughtWorkers have been successfully leveraging these technology lenses for our own business and for the many clients we serve. Today we are excited to invite business leaders from across the globe to peer into the Looking Glass alongside us.”

Looking Glass identifies over 120 individual trends separated into six ‘lenses’ of focus for 2021, collectively giving businesses from all industries tools for success that extend beyond typical specified trend reports. Notably, ThoughtWorks offers a new interpretation of the term ‘hostile tech,’ which is commonly associated with criminal activity such as ransomware, data theft and computer viruses. Instead, hostile tech by this report’s definition can encompass not just criminal tech, but also use cases like advertising and customer targeting, and isn’t always malicious or intended.

“These are turbulent times with businesses facing more uncertainty than ever and increased pressure to rapidly digitize,” said Julie Woods-Moss, chief marketing officer at ThoughtWorks. “Unlike traditional trends forecasts, Looking Glass gives businesses the actual tools and actionable insights needed to succeed in the coming year, but these principles are also crucial for long-term business planning. Looking Glass helps industry leaders cut through the noise of tech trends, and focus on what is actually critical to business success.”

The six lenses in this first-of-its-kind report are:

  • Humanity, augmented: Powerful new data-based tools are revolutionizing the way businesses make decisions and deploy talent, with broadly positive results. But these technologies also come with ethical and organizational challenges that responsible enterprises need to bear in mind.
  • Accelerating towards sustainability: As consumers, governments and investors demand greater environmental accountability from companies, going green has gone from optional to a business imperative. Technology will present both challenges and opportunities in the drive to embed sustainability in more activities and practices.
  • Evolving interactions: Consumers aren’t just demanding availability and accessibility — they expect interactions to be seamless, and richer. Enterprises can deliver this experience through evolving interfaces that blend speech, touch and visuals.
  • Morphing of the computing fabric: The boundaries of computing are expanding, pushing the edges of what’s possible for enterprises. The emerging computing environment not only provides the opportunity to tap into unprecedented data analysis and processing power, but also to structure computing architecture to better serve the needs of the business.
  • Coopetition forces platforms into ecosystems: The platforms created by businesses are increasingly only a starting point. Meeting rising customer expectations often requires joining up with or being open to other participants, turning platforms into ecosystems of related products and services that evolve dynamically as constituents cooperate and compete.
  • The expanding impact of hostile tech: ‘Hostile’ technology is commonly associated with criminal activity such as ransomware, breaking into a system to steal data or creating computer viruses — but this misses the complete picture. The landscape is evolving in a way that the definition of hostile tech should be broadened to include legal, even widely accepted, acts which ultimately threaten societal well-being. 

ThoughtWorks’ Looking Glass will be updated on an annual basis, to keep pace with the constant shifts in technology priorities and applications for businesses. Visit ThoughtWorks.com/insights/business to stay up to date with the latest business and industry insights for digital leaders. 

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