The Dive Outlook on 2021
A deep dive into the biggest trends and storylines we expect to shape the business world this year.Skip to Outlooks
In business as in life, those who anticipate change have an advantage.n
We need only look back as far as last year. The sudden changes wrought by the pandemic and the resulting economic recession reshaped the business world as we knew it. Even the best-laid business plans were severely challenged. But those that anticipated how a fast-spreading epidemic in China could suddenly explode into a damaging global pandemic were able to better position themselves to survive — and in some cases even thrive — during the storm.
In the 21 highly competitive markets we serve, Industry Dive’s journalists report daily on the biggest news and trends in business. At the beginning of every year, we meticulously prepare our Dive Outlooks — a deep look at the biggest trends and storylines that we, and our trusted sources, expect to play a transformative role in the upcoming year. These are consistently among our most-read pieces every year, read on countless commutes to work and in the boardrooms of the biggest players in business.
But this was no ordinary year. After reporting on how companies and business leaders adapted to and navigated the new normal throughout the year, we decided the Dive Awards for 2020 would recognize those who showed leadership in a time of crisis.
As last year made abundantly clear, there will always be surprises and unexpected turns. But anticipating the coming changes in the markets remains an essential advantage for any business leader. Our Dive Outlooks on 2021 can help you navigate the road ahead.
You can access each of our Outlooks below.
There are three ways to keep the narratives surrounding cryptocurrency, fair lending and the fight for racial equality in finance from losing steam.
- 4 banking trends to watch in 2021
- An overview of what’s in store for challenger banks in 2021
- A look at the banking issues gaining the Biden administration’s focus
M&A appears to be ticking higher after a slow 2020, while a series of setbacks has renewed questions around gene therapy. Several key clinical trial readouts also loom. Here's what to watch in biotech and pharma this year.
- Key trends in biotech dealmaking to watch in 2021
- The clinical trials and FDA approval decisions to watch in the first half of the year
- Top questions facing gene therapy and the FDA this year
New ways to go public, new ways to measure success — here’s what to expect as you, as a finance leader, help lead your organization through the months ahead.
- Key trends CFOs should watch in 2021
- 4 ways CFOs can cut waste in spending on the cloud
- Why and how CFOs should lead ESG efforts
Businesses call on CIOs to remain flexible and invest in technologies that will adapt no matter the operating environment. The kicker? Stay under budget.
- 5 ways the CIO role could change in 2021
- Tools, standards and cyberthreat trends set to shape remote work
- A look at budgeting, cloud and hiring practices for CIOs
Contractors face multiple factors – some positive, some less so – that are poised to shape construction in 2021.
- Top trends that will influence construction this year
- The cities, projects and construction sectors to watch in 2021
- How COVID-19 will change office, hotel and mixed-use design
Last year, what security experts long cautioned could happen came to fruition — a supply chain attack unleashed a wave of compromises. Now, stakeholders have to ask, what technology can businesses trust?
- The cybersecurity and threat trends CISOs must watch
- Why some industries are more secure than others
- How privacy laws could be affected by a Democratic Congress
The game changed for colleges and universities in 2020 as the pandemic upended most aspects of their operations. We look ahead at what's in store for the new year.
- Top trends to watch in higher education
- Digital tools and tactics that will shape admissions
- 5 predictions for HBCU funding in 2021
To help keep you in the loop, K-12 Dive has gathered our 2021 outlook coverage as a one-stop resource on the trends and leaders to watch in the months ahead.
- 8 trends that will impact schools in 2021
- The superintendents and principals to watch this year
- How ed tech and professional development trends will continue to affect the industry
The impact of the pandemic continues to ripple throughout the industry, influencing the trends on the horizon in food and beverage, from the surge of breakfast items to greater tech adoption.
- The resurgence of breakfast amid the pandemic shakeup
- The future of cannabis-infused food and beverages
- The impact of food technology in 2021
Fueled by digital shopping, rising competition and an ongoing health crisis, grocery retail is evolving faster than ever, and 2021 promises to be pivotal for the many companies vying for consumers’ food dollars.
- 8 trends that will shape the grocery industry this year
- How grocers will continue to innovate on pickup
- What it was like to open during the pandemic for 3 new grocery owners
The next steps for the explosion of telehealth, the Biden administration's efforts to roll back Trump-era policies and the road back to a new normal way of doing business for payers and providers are Healthcare Dive’s big trends for 2021.
- 3 big predictions for digital health in 2021
- 4 trends payers and providers should watch
- A look at the Trump-era policies Biden may roll back
There is perhaps no facet of HR that went untouched by a tumultuous 2020. We look ahead at what's in store for the new year.
- How the pandemic shifted HR – and what’s next
- The learning, compliance and D&I trends to watch in 2021
- How the COVID-19 vaccine and deferred care fit into compensation and benefits
There is perhaps no facet of marketing that went untouched by a tumultuous 2020.
- Google's plans to replace cookies, the ubiquitous digital marketing tactic the tech giant is killing off
- What marketers need to know about other contenders vying for the cookie throne, including second-party data
- How thought leaders like P&G brand chief Marc Pritchard are prepping for perpetual disruption
The pandemic will keep disrupting the industry in the year ahead, as COVID-19 testing wanes and elective procedures slowly ease back.
- 4 key trends medtech professionals should watch
- How 2021 could be a watershed year for the diabetes wearables market
- Why the industry is looking to the mitral market for the next big structural heart splash
After a year that turned the restaurant industry upside down, operators are using technology investments, acquisitions and innovative design to stake their claim in a changed environment.
- 6 restaurant trends that will shape 2021
- A look ahead at M&A and investor deals, and what it would mean for the restaurant industry
- How restaurants are bringing tech to the table this year
The adaptions retailers forced on retailers last year were painful, but they may have ushered in long-term changes that are key to survival.
- 9 retail trends to watch in 2021
- Top strategies DTC brands will pursue this year
- How the pandemic altered the retail landscape
As government leaders continue to reflect on the challenges of 2020, the team at Smart Cities Dive has outlined key trends and technologies likely to take hold in the year ahead.
- 11 expert predictions for what 2021 will hold for cities
- 7 mobility startups to watch this year
- 6 trends CES showcased, and what they mean for smart cities
The early parts of 2021 reveal a continuation of 2020's trends, making it clear the pandemic will affect the supply chain ecosystem long term.
- The evolving role of the chief procurement officer
- What it means to be a shipper of choice in 2021
- 4 elements of the next phase of last-mile delivery
Which trucking-related startups should firms keep an eye on? What's in store for M&A? What trends should fleets be tracking this year? Experts weigh in on what 2021 holds for the transport industry.
- A look at the operational costs of trucking, and how they’ll shift in 2021
- How expectations of a strong economy are driving record-breaking Class-8 orders
- What trucking can expect from Washington this year
The major trends driving the US power sector persisted in 2020, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the recent changes in the White House and Congress, will likely get stronger in 2021.
- 10 power sector trends to watch
- How the DER boom is driving a ‘reimagining’ of the distribution system
- A look at the future of electric vehicles, natural gas and hydrogen policy
Entering a second year of operating during a pandemic, the waste and recycling industry is poised to see further corporate traction on ESG goals, tech upgrades and M&A activity, as well as key policy developments from the Biden administration.
- 9 questions about the future of waste and recycling in 2021
- How falling costs and ESG pressures could boost fleet tech
- Why trade groups expect limited changes to recycling policy