Will 2021 Be the Year of Do-It-Yourself Innovation?

In a year as unprecedented as 2020, the future in 2021 and beyond looks incredibly bright — for everyone.

The Fjord Trends 2020 is the fourteenth in a series of annual reports from Accenture Interactive. Utilizing feedback from the company’s network of designers and creatives, the Fjord Trends 2020 report takes a look at emerging trends to anticipate that will shape business, consumer behavior, and society. Of the seven trends listed in the report, the second is do-it-yourself innovation. This trend is meant to become part of the new normal in our post-pandemic world, but what does that mean for consumers?

Do-It-Yourself innovation - turning side hustle into a small business

What Is Do-It-Yourself Innovation?

In a challenging situation, human beings often enter fight or flight mode. Some, however, know that the challenge at hand isn’t about life or death. That tends to be a situation that requires using life hacks. Technology and devices, combined with quick thinking and creativity, presents a solution. A temporary standing desk while working from home, for example, may be an ironing board.

Do-it-yourself innovation is felt at the worker and corporate level. Individuals that work from home and quarantined throughout 2020 have started turning passion projects into small businesses. Major organizations, meanwhile, must determine their role with innovation. What will their approach be to innovate and empower others?

Keys to Effective Do-It-Yourself Innovation

What makes for effective DIY innovation? The answers will vary depending on the organization and at the individual level. However, there are key spaces where innovation may be created, cultivated, and shared among everyone.

Businesswoman running a business with a laptop


There are two aspects of technology that play a big role with do-it-yourself innovation: platforms and devices.

Devices, the latter of the two, are the tools necessary to get the message across to audiences. Smartphones, laptops, desktop computers, and tablets are among the technology that is used to drive innovation.

One can easily think up a few platforms where they are able to creatively share their message. There are social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, video platforms like TikTok, eCommerce solutions like Shopify that allow for a wide audience reach. You can sell your products while supporting social causes that matter to you.

In a COVID-19 landscape, many of these platforms have repurposed to meet customer needs. The lack of live events has enabled major organizations to partner with influencers and create streaming events, like concerts and gaming performances, that audiences can watch and reach anywhere in the world. Making a pivot of this nature is certainly born out of necessity in the moment. However, the popularity of these pivots and their ability to reach proves that certain forms of DIY innovation, like amplifying streaming services, are here to stay.

Ecosystem Approach

Major corporations and do-it-yourself innovations often initially clash at the offset. The DIY innovation is nimble and tends to be scrappy. A major organization has the necessary resources to create a do-it-yourself innovation. What they must do to ensure it gets done is prioritize cocreation and develop an ecosystem approach.

Within an ecosystem approach, more platforms may be built and designed for third parties. This allows other parties, like eCommerce sellers for example, to have another space where they may provide their offerings and services. In turn, the major organization becomes part of the do-it-yourself revolution. Their business is seen as cutting edge, listening to consumer needs, and providing the tools necessary for their innovations to be brought to life.


Many people have become entrepreneurs out of necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fjord Trends 2021 study uses a great example of a publicist for fitness studios. This publicist is out of work since gyms and fitness spaces are closed for public safety reasons. However, the publicist is not content to wait it out. Instead, the publicist uses knowledge acquired from years of representing fitness brands and available technology resources to launch an online workout platform.

There are other examples as well, including individuals that started side hustles in quarantine that unexpectedly flourished. There are also those that always dreamed of becoming business owners finally making the leap and gig workers generating multiple revenue streams to embrace full-time freelance. More than 3.2 million applications have been filed for employer identification numbers (EINs) in 2020, showing that Americans are starting small businesses in record numbers.

Craftman using a tablet PC


The do-it-yourself aspect of innovation is clear during this time. Many of these small businesses are starting up in humble spaces, ranging from a bedroom to the garage. At its core, entrepreneurship helps solve problems and meet needs.

What do people need right now? What kinds of products and services can make their lives easier? What makes a small business stand out and differentiates it from the competition? All these questions and more must be answered in the coming year by the entrepreneur to make 2021 a year of DIY innovation. Small businesses must create a business plan that addresses what their business can (feasibly) do that is unlike other companies. The solution should be one that inspires a “eureka!” moment — an innovative solution for one and all.