Exacerbated by COVID, 2021 will be dominated by a shift from runaway growth to regenerative models; from Unicorns to Zebras; from capital to competence, and heralds a workforce demanding intrinsic rewards over compensation

TrendSights Vol. 1


SourceCode Communications, a New York-based technology communications agency, today launches the first in a series of TrendSights Reports, Vol 1: Business, Economics & Work. Working with Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist and author of bestseller Team Human, the quarterly SourceCode reports will examine the changing nature of culture, work and society, providing guidance for business leaders navigating them.

The trends identified in this first report point to a year ahead populated by seismic change in the ways consumers engage with brands, and explore the ways in which marketers and business leaders must shift their thinking to deliver against these changing priorities. 

“The advent of digital technology changed what it means to be human. Our roles as consumers, workers, voters, parents and sense makers have been fundamentally altered – a process only amplified by this year’s crises, from COVID-19 to racial injustice to election conspiracies,” explains Rebecca Honeyman, co-founder and managing partner at SourceCode.  

SourceCode’s first TrendSights Report, Business, Economics & Work, spotlights a shift to sustainability and competence as the primary characteristics of the year ahead. Most impactful for a tech world which has been seemingly dependent on growth at all costs, Rushkoff forecasts that 2021 will see the illusion of infinite, exponential expansion shattered, as businesses are forced towards more regenerative models or circular economies by their own consumers. 

Honeyman continues: “We’re seeing a shift from the decades-long focus on runaway growth towards greater sustainability and value creation as consumers become attuned to the employment, economic and environmental catastrophes that digital companies leave in their wake. Some brands such as Grubhub, Seamless and Uber have already had a taste of this but we expect much, much more pressure from consumers next year. While it might be too soon to declare Unicorns extinct, we think we’ll see a new generation of founders eschewing Unicorns for Zebras with revenues rather than investors funding their operations.”

The report also ushers in a return to competence. The dangerous consequences of 40 years of outsourcing were thrown into sharp relief earlier this year by the scarcity of masks and ventilators to combat COVID-19. Although the pendulum had already begun to swing towards competence, this experience has accelerated a shift to hands on value creation; Rushkoff’s work points to a redefinition of wealth from money in the bank to skills and resources.

“The restoration of competence changes the relationship of workers to the value they create and restores autonomy to those who bring the skills to the table. Already in the tech industry we’re seeing programmers demanding a say in how their skills are being employed,” says Douglas Rushkoff.

He continues: “We are at a critical inflection point as a society where we have realized that the way we once did things is no longer the way we should do things moving forward. These TrendSights Reports, and the SourceCode team as a whole are taking these challenging but important concepts and making them clear and actionable for business leaders.”

Almost three years in practice, SourceCode has become part of a formidable group of New York-based technology agencies, most recently being named PRWeek’s 2020 US Outstanding Boutique Agency, one of America’s Best PR Agencies 2021 by Forbes, the #10 fastest growing agency by Adweek, and included on PRNEWS’ 2020 list of Top Places to Work in PR. In addition to its enterprise practice, SourceCode also houses consumer and insights/engagement teams, working with clients such as MakeSpace, a tech-enabled, full-service storage company; Kangaroo, a manufacturer of affordable, easy-to-use home security products; and mobile data sensing and smartphone telematics company Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT). 

SourceCode will be releasing additional reports covering Meaning, Culture and Society, and Narrative and Media throughout 2021. To learn more about SourceCode and download the first TrendSights report, visit www.sourcecodecomms.com/trendsights.