If 2020 was uncertain and full of changes and adaptations, mostly focused on addressing challenges caused by the pandemic, 2021 occurred to be a fantastic year of emerging tech trends to establish a new era and make its acceptance smoother. Though it would not be accurate to consider a pandemic a direct driver of such massive changes, it was a trigger that put another priority in the first place. Now, an outstanding digital experience is not only a requirement but a necessity. That is why we see that trends rotate the vector towards strategic and innovative development with a more intensified focus on flexibility and people’s need.
In this article, we will consider technology trends that are expected to skyrocket in 2022, and, of course, add some commentaries and thoughts about them.
Here is the list of the top 12 trends:
- Data fabric
- Privacy-enhancing computation
- Vertical cloudization
- Artificial intelligence
- Hyperautomation and robotic process automation
- Digital reality
- Sustainability in tech organizations
- Passwordless authentication
- Internet of Behaviors (IoB)
- WFH technologies
- 5G / 6G
- Digital twins
Data fabric is a big data analytics trend that first appeared in 2020. Data fabric is a single and consistent data management architecture that enables seamless data access and processing. For a data-driven organization, data fabric allows the application of analytics to learn and actively find the best ways to use data. According to Gartner, this can reduce data management efforts by up to 70%.
When it comes to information security issues, data fabric provides protection by the implementation of consistent governance through unified APIs and custom resource access. Also, the data factory supports flexibility in transparent processes of updating, auditing, integrating, routing, and transforming data for specific business purposes.
Though, Steve Andriole criticizes the data fabric concept and Gartner’s technology trends: “We should also recognize there are limits to what we can cost-effectively achieve, especially when we pursue best of breed data and applications strategies,” he says and adds that achieving data nirvana is a dream that is nearly impossible to become true.
Data is the most precious asset for an organization while privacy and information security should always come first. Anyway, users are still concerned about how their personal information is used and even can opt not to use the service/product if they worry about data collection and further utilization. In this case, a privacy-conscious usage of the internet becomes essential for a positive user experience. In the B2B context, information security is also crucial since all the parties need to be assured any data stored with them is safe.
Privacy-enhancing computation (PEC) is not a brand-new trend but an evolving one. Due to increasing concerns over data privacy, a lot of improvements have already been made to achieve a robust category of technologies that enable, enhance, and preserve data privacy throughout its lifecycle. Thus, PEC is designed specifically for the increasing need to share data while maintaining security or privacy.
Gartner defines three approaches to protecting data while it is in use. These approaches include the following:
- – A secure environment where sensitive data can be processed or analyzed
- – Processing and analytics in a decentralized manner
- – Data and algorithms encryption before processing
Cloud adoption is gaining momentum year over year and its popularity increased during the period of the COVID-19 outbreak. The dramatic changes in the way of working caused even more intensive usage of cloud capacity or urgent migrations for those who were still using traditional data centers. For example, according to Contino’s report on data maturity in the public cloud, 32% of technical use cases in 2021 is cloud data migration. This is clear evidence that a fair amount of work is still going on in moving to the cloud.
According to Deloitte’s report on tech trends 2022, cloud computing is intended to go vertically. The authors state: “Hyperscalers and SaaS vendors are working with global system integrators and clients to provide modularized, vertical-specific business services and accelerators that can be easily adopted and built upon for unique differentiation. As this trend gains momentum, deploying applications will become a process of assembly rather than creation – a shift that cloud reorder the entire value stack.”
Emerging cloud solutions for vertical scaling aim to enable organizations to automate as many manual tasks as possible and focus more on the breakthrough.
Jimmy Dahlqvist, Head of AWS technologies at Sigma Technology Cloud, adds: “Many companies have started or increased the speed of their digitalization due to the pandemic. The “Work from anywhere” trend is creating a need to make company systems available from anywhere, and not only from the internal network. This has led to many companies making the decision to migrate business-critical applications to the public cloud. I see this only as the beginning and several more systems and companies will take the leap to the public cloud during coming years.”
Artificial Intelligence Market Size Analysis Report states that the AI market size was valued at USD 62.35 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.2% from 2021 to 2028. It concerns, first of all, such industries as automotive, healthcare, retail, finance, and manufacturing.
Though artificial intelligence is not a new trend, an extensive application is gaining momentum and its capacity will be applied, first of all, for better decision-making and becoming more widespread. Moreover, AI will be actively applied within cyber and information security to detect possible threats faster. Deloitte’s report on tech trends 2022 states: “Cyber AI can be a force multiplier that enables organizations not only to respond faster than their attackers can move but also to anticipate these moves and act in advance. AI can be expanded beyond established applications, such as using it to accelerate data analysis, identify anomalies, and detect threats.”
The great news behind the evolution of artificial intelligence is that it creates new jobs such as AI researcher, AI engineer, machine learning engineer, etc.
Hyperautomation and robotic process automation
Many organizations are forced to apply robotic process automation (RPAs) as a solution due to the increasing demand to cut costs and increase the efficiency of operations. RPAs are intended to automate business processes, communicate with other digital solutions, capture data, etc.
Hyperautomation goes far and beyond robotic process automation and includes not only AI-enabled tools but also IoT solutions. This technology will be applied very widely within the manufacturing and supply chains. Organizations require hyper-automation to accelerate and streamline heavy and high-volume processes and enable real-time adaptation. Though automation has been in play for a long time, it gains momentum year over year and becomes a “must-have”, not “nice-to-have”.
VR/AR technologies have been listed in the top trends since 2016, when dimensional marketing and user engagement became mega-popular. VR/AR technologies are applied both in B2C as an enhanced user experience and in B2B, especially for such industries as retail, real estate, defense, and manufacturing. This technology implies not only entertainment but education, training, and healing goals.
The evolution of digital reality is backed by the evolvement of the metaverse. Current metaverse development is centered on addressing the technological limitations with virtual and augmented reality devices, but we see a great leap forward:
- Nike announces that they have created their own virtual world, Nikeland, on the gaming platform Roblox.
- Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, is having discussions about opening retail stores to showcase the devices that are gateways to the metaverse, a futuristic digital world where people move from virtual to augmented versions of reality almost seamlessly.
- Meta is preparing special VR gloves for enhanced VR experience allowing objects to be felt in virtual reality.
In 2022, we expect that these forms of technologies will be even more actively integrated into our lives, and VR/AR experiences will become an essential part of our lives in the fields of entertainment, work, or education.
Sustainability in tech organizations
More and more people are becoming concerned about the environment, and the demand for sustainable gadgets and technologies is steadily increasing. This trend covers both environmental and economic considerations, and organizations strive to optimize their operations and achieve maximum sustainability.
Giant companies become role models in this initiative and want to add steam to the endeavor of smaller organizations:
- Microsoft became a pioneer in implementing a right-to-repair framework that could help shift other tech companies to do the same, snowballing into meaningful changes in its product design and processes.
- Amazon committed to The Climate Pledge, to make Amazon devices more sustainable, from how they build them to how customers use them.
- Ericsson started running a Responsible Sourcing Environment Program. The program follows up on, supports, and encourages suppliers to conduct their business in ways that minimize negative environmental impacts on their own operations and in their supply chains.
We think this trend will evolve with double speed, and sustainable operations within tech organizations will be essential, influencing even end-users mindsets.
We actively witness a progressive switch towards passwordless authentication using devices, tokens, software, and even biometrics almost everywhere. This trend ensures addressing security challenges, simplifies IT operations, and improves user experience.
Passwordless authentication is a great subject for further improvements. For now, passwordless authentication can be hacked. Maybe there is no obvious way to hack it, but it does not mean that the most sophisticated hackers cannot work their way around its defenses. In 2022, this technology is expected to make a great leap forward and become more widespread, and safer.
Internet of Behaviors (IoB)
Internet of Behaviors is a totally new, emerging trend that contributes to the digitalization of the world. Companies rely more and more on information and data as a key to success. The Internet of Behaviors refers to the gathering of volumes of data (BI, Big Data, CDPs, etc.) that contains crucial information on client behaviors, interests, and preferences.
At the core of IoB lies human psychology, which makes getting into the users’ heads possible and ensures making adjustments in marketing, technologies, and sales on the fly. We should always care about the ethical considerations of such technologies, though. It is necessary to perform statistical studies that record and analyze behaviors without revealing customers and do not apply methods to detect psychological variables to influence a certain outcome.
Before the pandemic, it was hard to imagine that a whole organization could operate efficiently in a dispersed manner. Indeed, a new epoch has challenged the conventions, and the office culture started transforming. According to Quantum Workplace research, the percentage of remote and hybrid employees is much larger than it was pre-pandemic. As of June 2021, 30% of employees considered themselves hybrid employees, and 35% of employees reported working remotely. So, the classical model is not expected to come back. In addition, investors, stakeholders, and analysts look for these innovative remote working policies to judge a business’s resilience to change.
Work From Home (WFH) technologies are already implemented by the companies which have successfully adapted, and they will only be evolving. Digital assistants, project management platforms, communication tools, video calling tools, cloud-based HR tools are only a few examples of tech solutions that will make a revolution for the WFH concept.
Digital twins for manufacturers
Digital twins are gaining more and more popularity through were firstly voiced in late 1991. According to Industry Research, the global digital twin market size is estimated to grow at CAGR of 39%, with a revenue of USD 24.81 bn during the forecast period 2021-2025. The “YOY (year-over-year) growth rate for 2021 is estimated at 35.21%” by the end of 2025.
Digital twins are becoming a critical “technology of the future” for manufacturers. They influence the efficiency of production lines, manufacturing processes, and after-sales experience. The forecast is that digital twin technology is going mainstream at global manufacturers as it provides undeniable advantages like advanced diagnostic, quick root cause identification, predictive maintenance, product design enhancement, and others.
For after-sales service, digital twins will play a considerable role, since actual equipment use data and downtime data can lead to innovations in new machine R&D. According to Deloitte, the profitability of after-sales service is 20-50%, which makes digital services on this stage a decisive competitive advantage.
Transforming 5G into 6G technologies
The new trends, needs for new technology, and human behavior set new requirements for future mobile network generations, ramping up the research of 6G and expecting the emergence of the technology by 2030. According to Ericsson, future networks will be a fundamental component for virtually all parts of life, society, and industries, fulfilling the communication needs of humans as well as intelligent machines.
Hexa-X, the European 6G research project driven by Ericsson and Nokia, has defined the vision for 6G, connecting three worlds: a human world, a digital world, and a physical world. The development will focus on the interactions between these worlds:
- through connected intelligence, enabling machines to communicate without limits;
- immersive communication, removing distance as a limit for the human experience;
- twinning of the physical senses and objects into their digital representations;
- a sustainable world, enabled by network technology.