ceo predictions 2021

It’s been a whirlwind of a year, from the unpredictable to the unprecedented. We’ve stuck together and now it’s time to see what lies ahead. Using consumer and market intelligence to provide data-driven insight, we’ll show you the top 10 CEO predictions for 2021.

And as we explore, we’ll cover these topics too:

  • Top Ten in their categories of what to expect in 2021
  • Telling the future with the assistance of competitive intelligence
  • The top ten CEO predictions

And there are these stats about the critical role of data-driven results to consider as we investigate:

  • Data-driven organizations are 19 times more likely to be profitable
  • 90% of business analytics and industry professionals say that data and analytics are key to their company’sdigital transformation initiatives.
  • Insight-driven businesses are growing 30% each year (AGR)

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Who’s in Our Top Ten?

We’ll get to emerging trends on the horizon and predictions for their staying power in a moment – first let’s get a good look at who’s making predictions.

Using market intelligence to inform us, we’ve gathered information from international and top news sources such as The NY Times and BBC. Top regional sources like The Houston Chronicle, as well as newswire sources, blogs, message boards and miscellaneous consumer resources to capture industry leaders.

Our bar chart is organized by our source categories Trade & Research, National & Int’l, Other, Local, and Press Release & Wire. We’ve filtered by primary mention of CEOs to seek out key opinion leaders (KOL) offering enticing 2021 predictions. And here they are by where their voice is trending, ordered by conversation volume (we’ll get to their predictions in just a bit):


This is important to help interested parties understand if a key opinion leader is trending internationally, regionally or even locally, as the tactics for leveraging each is different.

With intel from different tiers of news hubs aggregated in our dashboard, brands save countless hours. Also, with insight captured in real-time, you’re consistently ahead of the game. Hopefully. A McKinsey survey finds that COVID-19 hasaccelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years. And 90% of enterprise professionals say that data and analytics are key to their organization’s digital transformation. This is especially true when planning future endeavors.

So, what do these mover and shakers have on their radar for 2021? Let’s see how it matches up with overall market intelligence.

What’s on the 2021 Radar?

Market Intelligence reveals emerging trends and those harnessing its power can expect incredible growth. Insight-driven companies have an AGR of 30% each year, after all. That’s opportunity you don’t want to miss.

We’ve divided our search into categories and tagged them based on trending themes across industry lines. Technology, general Financial and Investing are driving forces, making up 31% of the over-arching conversation. And they intermingle with other categories, including Sports and Entertainment, Sustainability, Economy, Medical and Travel.


Using Technology as an example of how we’re able to explore this click-thru map, various articles come to light.

Bitcoin experienced a surge this year, however experts say to “hold on” for the moment. And Apple in 2019 predicted that EarPods would become the company’s third largest product by 2021. We’ll have to wait until 2021 officially arrives to know for sure, however states that Apple growth is progressively powered by products other than the iPhone, and wearables like EarPods are, in fact, up 48%. Seems Apple has a crystal ball in its possession:


And if you clicked on Housing and Economy, you’d see predictions around the fall in housing prices, however you’d also find predictions for COVID-19 impacts on the economy and how they won’t be as severe as first thought. These are things that require in-depth examination. Fortunately, NetBase Quid is transparent and explorable down to granular level, allowing businesses to do precisely that!

Before we get lost in the overarching narratives, let’s shift focus back to our trail-blazing executives and see what they’re sharing to inform your 2021 planning.

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Predictions to Pay Attention To

From our list above, we can explore our Company dataset to see what’s sort of investments have happened with business areas associated with each, to help inform our understanding. Below, we see quarterly investments, by industry segments, since January of 2019:


Or, we can get super specific to see which industries are generating the greatest investment overall – and from whom, as our data reveals top investors:


With Aeropsace capturing the largest chunk of change, it’s easy to see why Elon Musk dominates here, and he’s where we’ll start!

Elon Musk – CEO of Tesla and founder of Starlink

Elon Musk is busy with his Starlink satellite broadband – essentially internet from space. His prediction is that it will provide internet coverage in areas that are hardest to reach through terrestrial networks, as well as those with no or bad connectivity. This is a game changer for any company as it widens your consumer base if it proves to be efficient.

Sundar Pinchai, CEO of Alphabet, Inc and its subsidiary, Google

Sundar Pinchai predicts AI and machine learning will continue to play an important role in world this coming year, potentially transforming it. One way it will do that is by aiding in sustainability efforts, which will be front and center in 20201. As he recently shared with the Economist that “2021 will be the most significant year yet for combating climate change.”


Tim Cook – CEO, Apple

For Tim Cook, it’s all about AR – Augmented Reality. He’s pushing to see more of it from time-of-flight sensors to iPad 3D sensors, Tim predicts that AR is the next big thing, and “it will pervade our entire lives.”

Jayshree Ullal, CEO of Arista Networks

Jayshree Ullal, dubbed “queen of the wired world” and one of the top 50 influential people in tech knows a growth trend when she sees one. And 2021 looks promising to her, as she’s made a bold growth outlook for Arista. “Part of that growth outlook is a plan to double the amount of money that Arista takes from Cisco’s market for gear used to wire together corporate campuses. Arista has made $100 million so far in that market, and Ullal hopes to double that by the end of next year.” They key part here to keep in mind is that businesses still require essential services, and Arista is doubling down on offering them.

Alan Joyce  – CEO of Qantas Airways Limited

Alan Joyce predicts a standstill in travel until at least July of 2021, citing it will take years to fully recover. However, he’s optimistic. And to encourage travel once a vaccine becomes available, he plans to make it mandatory for travel. This could become a travel norm, as the vaccine is in demand – and so is travel.


Jensen Huang, President & CEO of Nvidia 

Jensen has predicted supply shortages of the popular RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 parts lasting until at least 2021, but what about beyond that time? Demand is set to keep supply on its toes for the forseeable future, as computing needs continue to spike.

Lisa Su, Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Micro Devices

Unlike Jensen, Lisa is cautious around predicting 2021 demand trends – or maybe they’re about the same, as he hasn’t set anything in stone either. They’re both wise to hold their cards close, as 2020 saw a decline in tech hardware spending. And although it’s projected to grow, who knows what 2021 could bring?


David Calhoun, President & CEO, Boeing

Like others in the aviation industry, David is expecting long-term impacts for travel. However, he is “optimistic” that the need for new aircraft could begin rebounding by the second half of 2021.

Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty

After recently sealing a deal with Target to sell Ulta in-store at dedicated popup shops nationwide, Mary has every reason for optimism. As an essential operation, the number of new consumers that will become aware of the brand at these locations promises an influx of untapped segments and lots of opportunity for both brands. “Think about this as two retail leaders … coming together to delight guests and to provide great paths for brand growth,” Dillon said. 

Jane Fraser, President of Citigroup and CEO of Consumer Banking

Jane takes the role of CEO in February and her goals are predictions – though items that are likely to happen. And they’re focused in a way that many businesses are trending – toward addressing and helping alleviate the human condition: “Banks are going to play a very important role in helping to drive the recovery. We do anticipate it to be quite sluggish. We’re certainly seeing it in consumer [banking]: You’ve got the “haves” and you’ve got those who are really struggling. I think it goes to that sense of, what are the values of the industry? How do we make sure we’re part of the solution? Not just from the financial market perspective. I think we all learned many lessons out of the last crisis about what a bank really is and [the role it] needs to play.”

What does all of this mean for your business in 2021? That you should probably watch emerging trends closely in your market intelligence tool. And if you aren’t connecting the dots with your current capabilities, reach out for a personalized demo of NetBase Quid, so you start the year off on the right foot.

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