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Top tech trends for 2022

Written by Anthony Drake, Operations Director North Europe, for technology research and advisory firm, ISG

Organisations have had their resiliency tested like never before in the past 18 months. Those that had already started on their digital transformation journey had a clear advantage over their competitors.

Technology investment in 2022 will continue to focus on transformational strategic initiatives such as cloud migration, ESG, and AI, as well as ways to improve both the customer and employee experience.

We’ve identified eight tech trends to watch in 2022.

1.       Move to a public cloud-first strategy

Companies are increasingly taking a public cloud-first approach, as hyperscalers up their game on areas of traditional concern like data privacy and cybersecurity. More businesses will benefit from increasingly sophisticated migration concepts and accelerators – coming from both IT service providers and hyperscalers.

Cloud programming interfaces and analytics functions will become more important as businesses and their partners explore ways to tailor cloud applications to their organisation’s needs.

We’ve already seen significant growth in demand for multi-cloud services, regardless of company size. Businesses that operate several cloud solutions are looking for ways to integrate and optimise these systems and their data. The level of flexibility these systems provide is also becoming more important to the success of the business.

We’ll also see more companies implement native cloud models.

2.       AI-driven automation & autonomous services

Most companies are still in the early stages of experimenting with automation – probably due to a combination of struggles with managing unstructured data and inadequate AI skills. As a result, businesses are looking for external partners with expertise in intelligent automation.

More businesses will use software bots that can interact with unstructured data, and from that, organisations will use technology like image recognition, natural language processing and conversational AI in delivering customer service.

Process mining opens new possibilities for automating processes, so we could see automation adopted in areas companies haven’t considered previously.

There’ll be a growth in proprietary Algorithmic IT Operations (AIOps) as businesses establish ways to manage a multi-cloud IT workload and analyse the data collected by their automated processes. The growth in automated services will result in cost savings, a reduction in errors, a boost in efficiency and customer service improvements.

3.       Better cybersecurity to support a new way of working

The cybersecurity market will continue to grow as the pandemic and changing working practices prompt cybercriminals to devise new ways of exploiting people and tech vulnerabilities. We expect to see more alliances and co-innovations between security providers as they look for ways to maximise protection.

Zero-trust architectures are on the rise, and this will continue throughout 2022 as organisations and their providers take an increasingly proactive and preventative approach to protect data. One of the newer security methods that organisations could explore is the “cybersecurity mesh”.

This means creating mobile security zones around individual users who work outside of the traditional security zones on the corporate network. These meshes are a good way to protect organisations from the vulnerabilities of a more flexible workforce.

The DataSecOps approach will also become more widespread, with IT and data scientists working together to integrate security measures into an organisation’s IT infrastructure, helping systems and devices work together more securely.

4.       Increased use of data science factories

Organisations that use data analytics well have a vital competitive advantage, but data science has traditionally been conducted away from the businesses it’s supposed to help.

We expect to see more ‘embedded data science factories’ – as data science moves from a position of isolation to integration with the rest of the business. Essentially, data science will move away from being conceptual laboratory work to a more practical, value-driven process.

By integrating data science into the business, organisations will bolster their resilience and increase efficiency.

5.       Sustainability and decarbonisation 

Digitisation has a large carbon footprint, and the pressure on organisations to reduce their environmental impact will increase. We’re already seeing a new market spring up of providers offering to help businesses meet sustainability goals.

Businesses that continue to ignore sustainable business practices will start to find it harder to find skilled workers, end customers and partners willing to work with them.

6.       Tech to support hybrid work

The pandemic has supercharged the virtual working revolution, and while many organisations now have a lot of the processes and tech in place to support hybrid working, 2022 will be about refining these systems.

Businesses will start exploring ways to use technology to prevent digital burnout and support the mental wellness of their employees. They’ll also look for ways to provide immersive learning experiences.

Some will start thinking about using technologies such as Meta’s Horizon workrooms to engage teams.

7.       Musical chairs in the Great Resignation

IT firms are experiencing attrition of 20% plus at the moment, so any organisation that is truly committed to maintaining resilience will have to do two things to manage this high level of staff turnover.  Firstly, they will double down on their existing key performers. As a result, we’re seeing salaries rise by 4.5%. (Of course, throwing money at the problem isn’t enough in isolation – people want a better working environment, purpose, culture and flexibility.) Secondly, they will systematise more of the onboarding and service delivery work for customers.

8.       Digital supply chain transformation

Where 2021 has been about supply chain disruption, 2022 will be about building resiliency.

By using tools like connected devices, machine learning and artificial intelligence, businesses can optimise their processes and, by extension, influence the efficiency and resilience of the supply chain as a whole.

The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital supply chains, but organisations need to be willing to share data along the chain to get the most out of any changes. Optimisation and resiliency depend on real-time knowledge beyond a business’s own backyard.

In addition, the employee experience will be critical to avoid crisis of supply, and to attract and retain talent.

Next year will, on the whole, be about using technology to build resilience and improve agility. For those that do it well, great benefits lie ahead.