By Carrie Dagenhard (Tech Writer)
It’s been another strange year for the tech industry (and the world). While 2020 upended life as we know it and left us reeling, many of us spent 2021 determining how to move forward in this strange new landscape. It’s been complicated, but technology helped us forge a path ahead once again.
As the year draws to a close, everyone — from business leaders to boots-on-the-ground IT pros — is speculating about what’s next. Now, after closely observing trends and analyzing new data, we’re weighing in with seven tech predictions we believe will impact the IT world the most in 2022.
IT Budgets Will Grow
If you grappled with a stagnant or shrinking budget in 2021, you’ll be happy to know the tide appears to be turning. A whopping 53% of businesses in North America expect to increase tech spending in 2022, according to survey data from Spiceworks. And when asked what’s driving these budget boosts, survey respondents cited an increased priority on IT projects, a need to upgrade IT infrastructure, and growing security concerns.
Although a little more than one-third (35%) of businesses say their budgets will stay the same, only 7% expect a decrease.
If you’re one of the lucky IT leaders granted additional funds for 2022, it’s wise to begin ranking which projects you’ll want to greenlight in the new year, especially if you’ll need to bring new talent on board. The tech skills shortage is still an issue and will likely continue next year (and beyond). The earlier you begin your search, the better.
Cybercrime Will Get Worse
The past two years have been good to cybercriminals. The pandemic created plenty of vulnerabilities to exploit, while the surge in cryptocurrency made it easier for hackers to get paid without getting caught. And as we look ahead, we only expect more hacks and breaches — especially via ransomware attacks.
Of course, ever-growing mobile shopping, supply chain issues, deepfake technology, and a shortage of cybersecurity expertise will likely contribute to a veritable explosion in new threats.
It’s gloomy out there, but prioritizing cybersecurity and empowering all employees to make better decisions online will help mitigate your risks.
Organizations Will Prioritize Mental Health
(Or, at least, they should). Gallup says the next pandemic won’t be caused by a virus but the deterioration of workers’ mental health. According to the analytics firm, about 7 in 10 people globally reported that they were struggling. Thanks to the pandemic, people are lonelier and more isolated than ever — and this can affect every aspect of an organization.
While this isn’t a problem exclusive to tech, per se, we do expect to see organizations leveraging tech to help stave off burnout and help employees connect in the right ways. For example, smart businesses will identify ways to automate repetitive tasks and free employees up to do the more engaging work they enjoy — and get some well-deserved rest. For example, investing in professional services automation software will save IT teams countless hours of work. Instead of expecting even more productivity in that saved time, great leaders will empower employees to take breaks and create a healthier work-life balance.
Adoption of IT Automation Will Increase
Over the past decade, we’ve seen massive strides toward increased automation — especially in the wake of the pandemic. Practically overnight, businesses spun up infrastructure to automate actions that previously demanded human interaction. Now we’re entering a new era of the digital transformation: hyperautomation.
According to Gartner, hyperautomation is “a disciplined, business-driven approach to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.” Companies have seen the ROI, and now they’re looking to scale automation in other areas. And increased automation will help improve work output without putting extra demand on your workforce — which also helps overcome the aforementioned burnout.
Remote Work Will Become a Permanent Norm
Many companies began re-opening their doors to employees in mid-2021 — only to send employees home again when the Delta variant emerged. Others required employees to return to the office full time and, almost immediately, experienced large waves of turnover. Now, due to a combination of pandemic-induced uncertainty and employee expectations, many organizations are opting for hybrid environments.
For IT, this means helping manage environments that support both remote work and on-site desk hoteling. So, if you don’t already, now is the time to invest in cloud-based helpdesk ticketing software that includes reliable remote assistance.
5G Will Continue Speeding Up Innovation
A sizeable 2.5 billion people will have access to 5G in 2022, according to estimates shared by TechRepublic. That’s nearly a third of the population.
What does this mean? The 5th generation mobile network is creating a new standard of lightning-fast global wireless connectivity. As a result, technologies like AI, VR, and AR will be much more plausible in places where they weren’t before. And while the pandemic slowed 5G rollout, we expect it to begin picking up steam again in 2022.
Personal Data Collection, Synthesis, and Application Will Continue to Pose Challenges
Never before have organizations had access to so much user data. But with great power comes great responsibility, and, unfortunately, not every business has been making the most ethical decisions with that power.
We’ve seen a surge in privacy legislation in recent years, and we expect this trend to continue. As consumers become more aware of how their data is being used, they’ll also become more judicious when deciding where to do business. And with government agencies cracking down and imposing hefty fines for security negligence — not to mention the damage caused by high-profile lawsuits — businesses will also continue to be more careful about which companies they allow into their supply chain.
In other words, it’ll be important for IT departments to prioritize privacy and security in the year ahead.
And so you have it: our top seven tech predictions for 2022. While there’s no way to know for certain what 2022 has in store, we’re willing to bet it will be another year full of unexpected twists, plenty of tech evolution, and (with any luck) at least a little normalcy.