The digital transformation that many companies underwent in 2020 continued apace in 2021 as the pandemic continued to affect the world. While many ofmy digital Top predictions of transformational trendssince a year ago proved accurate, others failed to fully bloom and were displaced for more pressing and strategic needs as the pandemic continued. What does this mean for 2022? Will we continue to see headlines around customer experience and data, or will other technologies come to the forefront of the conversation? Only time will tell, but here are my top 10 digital transformation predictions for 2022.
Last year I predicted that 5G would finally become mainstream in 2021. While 5G deployments in the sub-6GHz bands have remained on track globally, more sophisticated 5G millimeter wave deployments have significant growth potential. In the early rollout of 5G, some carriers prioritized low-band 5G frequencies, which are roughly twice as fast as LTE but often feel only marginally faster than LTE networks, and this has led some observers and consumers to be less satisfied with the impressive We were promised 5G speeds.
This trend is already changing, and we will see it happen even faster in 2022. I expect an acceleration of the deployment of 5G waves in urban and densely populated environments, alongside further deployment of low-band 5G expansions in rural markets. For example, the AT&T 5G mmWave network is currently only available in 38 cities. Other carriers, such as T-Mobile and Verizon, have been more aggressive in expanding mmWave coverage. What I can say is that the superior experience will drive consumers to use networks and devices that support it. Air carriers around the world are also following suit by deploying mmWave, especially in large parts of Asia. The Beijing Winter Olympics this winter will be a huge test for 5G mmWave, lifting many supported devices and networks to ensure the best possible connectivity. However, some companies, even particularly innovative ones, have been slow to fully commit to mmWave. For example, Apple adopted it in the US for its iPhones, but decided not to support mmWave for iPhone 13 devices outside the US. I believe this was a silly guess as most of the other major device manufacturers like Samsung use mmWave in all their flagship products.
From the perspective of 5G innovation and development, companies such as Qualcomm, Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia are some of the leaders driving 5G and 5G mmWave deployment with network infrastructure and chip developments that will enable the next generation of 5G devices mmWave. Why does the difference in grid frequency matter? In short, mmWave significantly increases network efficiency and capacity while offering faster speeds and low latency, which is why I strongly believe that mmWave will be the future of 5G.
Semiconductors are eating the world
In 2020, the pandemic sparked a technology boom that drove growth in cloud, SaaS, collaboration, devices, and basically any technology that enabled commerce, communication, and productivity. This trend has created unprecedented demand, making 2021 the year of a chip shortage. This shortage has led to significant delays in production times for everything from cars to cell phones. But semiconductors are responding with heavy investment to ensure this problem never happens again. Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Samsung and TSMC have all announced multi-billion dollar investments to build new factories around the world to improve production time. We likely won't feel the immediate impact of these investments until late next year or even 2023, but it's important to note the magnitude of these investments and the role they will play in our evolving infrastructure for decades to come.
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In the short term, I believe issues will continue to affect the supply chain with late processes being the most affected, but advances in silicon will drive computing, analytics, devices and automotive technology - among other market segments - to new heights in terms of applications. experiences and plans. For example, just last month, OEMs partnering with semiconductor companies like Qualcomm, Intel, and NVIDIA announced major advances in automotive chip technology that will continue to advance the software-defined vehicle. I'll get into this trend a bit later and the impact it will have on other areas, but the main takeaway here is that chips don't work in silos. They affect every aspect of our lives whether we realize it or not, and I don't see that changing in 2022.
In a recent opinion piece I published on MarketWatchI'm scrutinizing the growth trajectory of the semiconductor space, and based on unparalleled demand, growing revenue, and improving cash flow, the year ahead looks big for major chip makers like NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm, as and your little to mid-sized chip makers and rising stars like Marvell Technologies and Lattice Semiconductor. I'm also watching the growing build of niche hyperscalers like AWS and expect to hear more from their counterparts at Azure and Google to step up their homegrown chip production efforts. Finally, I think some of the startups focused on accelerating AI, such as Groq and GraphCore, will start to hear more as the momentum of AI is unwavering in the coming year.
Post-Pandemic Future of Mega Shift Work
I predicted last year that remote work would continue after the pandemic and it certainly is. We've seen headlines all summer from major companies in nearly every industry offering permanent flexible work arrangements. But these arrangements are not without their own challenges. With some employees working in the office and others still working from home, organizations need technologies that enable seamless collaboration regardless of location.According to a recent report,only 8% of meeting rooms worldwide are equipped for video conferencing. The good news? Partner companies notice this.
September was a huge month with announcements from Zoom, Poly, Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce. We can expect software and hardware tools that will improve the equivalence of meetings and enable an unparalleled level of collaboration. Smart cameras and AI-equipped collaboration systems will make it easier to identify the speaker who is speaking. Companion features provide a unified device experience for all participants.
Hybrid work enhancements will extend beyond the boardroom with cloud computing offerings, improved VDI experiences, and more tools that make it easier to work from anywhere.
Shift work also leads to a change in the way we interact and work with our software to be more productive. This is driving the tech industry to create new operating systems for work, where instead of living in our inbox, ERP, CRM or productivity tools, we use enterprise-wide platforms where collaboration is central. Salesforce made that clear in its acquisition of Slack, with Marc Benioff fondly calling the platform a "digital headquarters."Microsoft Teams has built a scalable full stackthat uses the entire ecosystem of software and infrastructure to bring work to a single window in most cases. For smaller businesses, Zoho has built its operating system to work on the Zoho One platform. I expect more and more ubiquitous software stacks to drive the way we work, and these examples are evidence of that trend.
Environmental and social governance will get more headlines
From climate issues to social well-being, organizations in every industry prioritized socially responsible environmental management (ESG) in 2021, and this is likely to increase over the next decade. We have already seen investments and commitments in areas such as climate, diversity and equality and sustainable product development. And I believe that the essential role that many organizations play in the widespread adoption and investment in sustainability and other initiatives will continue to grow.
Over the past year, we have seen growing leadership from the technology community to accelerate and prioritize climate change and advance efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.Amazon's Climate Promise, for example, has seen great success as the company's partnerships with leading companies from around the world have led to hundreds of companies committing to be carbon neutral by 2030 - a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement target. Several other leading tech companies have made notable efforts to improve their impact on the planet. A few that come to mind are Dell, HPE, Honeywell, and Salesforce. They have all made material changes to their businesses to better account for their material sourcing and use, carbon footprint and exemplary history of market-driven investments. Of course, there are dozens of other great technology initiatives to do more about climate change, and I expect even more in the coming year.
It's also encouraging to see more and more software vendors developing solutions to help enterprise customers better understand their carbon footprint and sustainability efforts. Salesforce, SAP, and ServiceNow are three enterprise software companies that have developed and make available solutions for companies to manage their ESG efforts. I expect to see more of this from software leaders and newcomers in 2022.
While opinions on the rationale for many of these initiatives may differ, including proposals for attitudes and greenwashing from the tech community, I see the tech industry's influence as significant and its leadership as paramount. Being profitable while doing good is the best way to do business, and it's hard to deny the impact these companies' efforts have already had on our world.
Smart cars and cities in Hyperdrive
Smart cars and smart city infrastructure development are in overdrive and while some may think Tesla is leading the charge, there are plenty of players doing this and it will be good for the sustainability and future of the automotive industry. Companies like Plus, Mobileye, NVIDIA, Luminar andQualcomm(including the Arriver) have spent the past year (or more) promoting the software-defined vehicle, but what I really see improving over the next year is Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). We have currently seen great success with Level 2+ ADAS testing and demonstrations. This is when the vehicle handles the steering and acceleration, but all tasks are still controlled by a human and a human can take over at any time. IAA 2021 was full of organizations with announcements in this area, but all trends still point to innovations for Level 4 ADAS or fully autonomous operation where no human intervention is required. Who wouldn't want to pull out the laptop and enjoy a cup of coffee while our vehicle takes us where we want to go?
Last month atIAA Mobility event in Munich, I participated in a demonstration of itLuminar's L4 technologywhich showed that a car can "see" a child on the road and stop in time before an accident occurs. This wasn't the only promising test of L4 technology this year.Plus (formerly Plus.AI)successfully demonstrated a truck powered by L4 technology on a highway in China earlier this summer. I also had the opportunity to experience the automotive innovation engine through a series of demonstrations held off-site near the IAA at Capgemini's Future Forum Automotive in Munich. Capgemini is one of the few global consultancies that work intensively and strategically with automotive OEMs, Tier Ones and component manufacturers to drive vehicle innovation in the right direction. After these promising examples, I expect we'll see more testing in controlled environments to test a wide range of conditions so we can be sure of their safety.
But more than just smart cars are evolving, cities around the world are improving their infrastructure to support smart cars and connected IoT sensor networks that improve our daily lives. Next year, more charging stations, better public connectivity and other technologies will appear in more areas than densely populated metropolitan cities.
Continued focus on the power of artificial intelligencean automation
Every day we create about 2.5 trillion bytes of data, and that number is growing exponentially. But that data is only as good as the AI systems we use to manage, curate and mine it for insights. The work that many organizations continued in 2021 with new use cases for AI will continue to expand as organizations realize that AI can have the power to solve problems better, faster and at scale.
With this in mind, I expect that AI will become more ubiquitous in the daily lives of workers and consumers, and will continue to be more useful as we turn the corner from applied analytics and natural language processing to multi-spatial conversational AI and deep inferences that shape our interactions, with apps and devices becoming more robust and human with each software update - this will also see an uptick in the automotive industry with ADAS improvements, as I mentioned earlier in this piece.
We saw that a few weeks agoAmazon launches Astro robot for home usethat uses powerful processing and inference to deliver ambient intelligence and continues to push the boundaries of how artificial intelligence and automation can be part of our personal lives. We are familiar with this in our daily interactions with Alexa or Siri or Google. This will become increasingly useful in 2022. NVIDIA has pushed the boundaries of conversational AI with Jarvis, further democratizing conversational AI for app developers around the world. We will see this more often next year.
Enterprise applications for AI will be even more powerful, and this will be driven by exceptional data development and more powerful workload acceleration chips, along with more powerful software and frameworks that will enable data scientists to move faster in development and testing algorithms and the application of data to large complex business problem solving. The emergence of companies like Tom Siebel's C3 AI is a good example of how business AI and its applications are evolving and streamlining to scale how companies across a range of industries can leverage AI more effectively to harness data and solve complex business challenges. Last year, in my forecast, I praised Spunk's work, pointing to the company's Data to Everything approach. I especially appreciated the company's focus on how all data has the potential to add value to how a business operates, whether it's operations, customer experience, marketing or security. Being able to use the masses of data in a meaningful and timely way will depend on advances in GPU technology, dedicated accelerators, and more capable, easy-to-deploy software that enables companies to put AI to work.
Finally, automation should not be left out of the discussion. For many entities, the ability to effectively streamline the implementation of a process can be overwhelming both from start to finish. Intelligent automation has been the focus of companies such as Microsoft, with Power Platform and Red Hat's Ansible, both of which serve as examples of software solutions built to enable the development of automation to streamline business processes from small simple tasks that run by citizen developers in powerful financial services automation for major banks.
Big Tech remains the focus of regulators
Big tech companies had better get used to the intense scrutiny of regulators and governments around the world. From court rulings to antitrust law, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook will come under scrutiny in the coming years. It's pretty obvious that these companies use openly monopolistic practices in their shopping preferences, search results, and even their app stores, but so far they've all managed to avoid being labeled as monopolies. Which makes me think it's unlikely we'll see major antitrust reform or any of the legislation before Congress anytime soon. But if history is any indication, antitrust and focus rarely wane.
The recent Facebook whistleblower, followed by Facebook's unusual shutdown, shows how quickly big tech can go from being in the crosshairs to being in the crosshairs. In the summer of 2021, a flurry of new bills were introduced to lawmakers to pass much tighter restrictions on big tech companies. While I personally felt that these laws gave policymakers too much power, the need to rethink how we regulate big technologies remains a concern as society becomes more deeply entrenched in these platforms and at the same time these platforms collect more data and have more control over our lives and access to information, services and goods/services we need.
Apple is somewhat negativedecision in the Epic casewas another indicator that some large technology platforms may in fact be susceptible to antitrust rulings that require at least substantial changes in platforms and behavior. While Apple's dominance of the US market has clearly led to a court order that will at least force the company to change the way users can download apps. It wasn't a huge loss for Apple by any means, but at least it showed that change is possible, and if a company is believed to be abusing its position of power over consumers, then rulings against its practices are possible.
I believe this is a category that will remain on this list for the next decade. Now that big tech and its platforms are so important to many people's lives, the old antitrust laws and definitions of monopolies require a new perspective. Especially since consumer harm and competition don't always go hand in hand. For example, people may have no other way to download an app on iOS, but how much do they care? Meanwhile, app developers are in a difficult situation that limits their competitiveness. It's a paradox where consumers are happy, but competition is actually limited in some cases.
This endless cycle of alleged abuses, lawsuits, appeals and rulings will continue this year and is sure to make industry headlines on a regular basis. However, I think the tech giants will likely stand firm in their defense of their success and importance to consumers. What we probably need are incremental changes that stimulate competition and protect consumers. For example, more attention to protecting consumer data and providing more privacy for those who seek it. A beautiful Segway…
Privacy rules, rule
The discussion of antitrust and anticompetitive behavior cannot take place without also considering the level of privacy users have with apps and the changes organizations are making to protect the end user, not the company. Apple has been incredibly vocal in its advertising about its comprehensive approach to user privacy. Their advertising campaign from early this year highlighted the fact that they see themselves - or want customers to see them - as a privacy company, the secure alternative that cares about who has access to your data. But the discussion does not end there.
With the vast amount of data we have across apps, e-commerce, and other social sites, we've created a world where tech companies must balance best-in-class experiences with more robust and thoughtful data management practices. To provide the best experiences, data is required. However, do we think carefully about all the data we need to collect and how often we collect it? What are we watching and why?
The next wave of big tech regulation I mentioned above will almost certainly have a major shift in privacy. The confluence of data that big tech companies have and the algorithms used to serve our experiences have the potential to give us a world-class experience tailored to our every need or send us a hole of emotionally charged content. movement that can lead us to the bowels of humanity. AI, which has almost unlimited growth, access and data collection, will need a closer look to balance how we opt-in and opt-out. How businesses manage when data breaches occur and how businesses and consumers can protect themselves from the misuse of data that may have been obtained through an application or infrastructure product we trust to protect our data.
In 2022, organizations that rely on data collected through apps and other third parties will have to expand their data collection policies. I expect CDPs from a laundry list of leading software vendors such as Twilio, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Adobe Experience Platform, Salesforce, Treasure Data and Oracle to lead this category with each taking a slightly different approach to making the view of customers more scalable. Customers are used to great customer experiences that require data. Organizations will need to find new sources of data and determine how to collect and manage it all in an open and honest way to enable the same level of customer experience. It will not be an easy task, but it will be decisive for success.
All eyes on the (Hybrid + Multi) Cloud
Cloud is by no means a new trend, but 2022 will see hybrid cloud take center stage as vendors compete for the perfect mix of public and private cloud as businesses face computing challenges, including security and data access.
In recent years, we've seen the big players in the public cloud expand their offerings much further to solve the clear business narrative that will leverage both on-prem and public cloud.
This has led to offerings such as AWS Outposts, Google Anthos, Azure Stack, as well as a continued rise from companies such as VMware, IBM Red Hat, Oracle and HPE, which have launched major new hybrid cloud services to meet the needs of business users who are embracing the power of the hybrid cloud.
As enterprise IT architectures become increasingly ubiquitous, the battle for hybrid leadership will continue to be the focus of both cloud and legacy IT providers. Open source solutions and popular hybrid architecture techniques such as Kubernetes will see greater adoption as any workload at any destination remains a necessity to support complex business requirements.
2022 will drive this trend with an acceleration of the transition from hybrid to multi-cloud. Companies using more than one public cloud to solve their biggest technology and business challenges will become more common and necessary. Additionally, since data is created exponentially faster at the edge than in the data center, taking the edge into account will further accelerate the transition to the hybrid cloud. I expect more investment from all competing companies in this space to simplify the workload orchestration process and make data accessible and secure for applications across the IT environment.
We've all seen the impact that public cloud and SaaS have had across technology markets. One-time capital expenditures for software and infrastructure are increasingly being traded for subscription and OpEx technologies that can be purchased for consumption.
This has led to a shift away from traditional buying cycles, and if we've learned anything from the pandemic, it's that business technology consumers (and all technology consumers) want what they want, when they want it. As a result, 2022 will see us reach the peak of everything as a service, with pay-as-you-go models gaining popularity for everything from data software to desktop virtualization.
This, of course, bodes well for Enterprise SaaS companies like Salesforce, Zoom, Microsoft, Oracle, and Snowflake. Of course, public cloud leaders like AWS, Google, Oracle and Azure will also benefit.
The other big beneficiaries will be companies that have been able to transition from legacy licensing and CapEx models to more desirable consumption models. For example, HPE started this move when CEO Antonio Neri announced that the company planned to move all of its service-as-a-service offerings within the GreenLake portfolio by 2022. Since then, we've seen Lenovo, Cisco, and Dell are beginning to shift much of their infrastructure portfolio to more OpEx-friendly consumption models. Other traditional enterprise companies that have licensed their software, such as Splunk and Citrix, have recently announced major pivots to cloud ARR models. These moves are not only of utmost importance to these companies, but should also give them a more beneficial move to generate new revenue and build closer relationships with their customers.
Businesses run at a breakneck pace these days, and companies can't afford to lack capacity or resources for anything. This could spell disaster, both monetarily and reputationally. But I think this change is for the best because it has enabled faster digital transformation and greater technology adoption. The concern will be to limit the proliferation of applications this could lead to in the workplace, but it should be manageable (probably by one application) and will be a small price to pay for the convenience it could have as a service model.
Honorable Mention: The Metaverse and New Money
2020 was the year the Metaverse came out of the shadows and into the mainstream lexicon. While I don't foresee us all living our lives as predicted by the movie "Ready Player One" any time soon, we can see the future starting to play out whether that be in gaming, art, or what money will look like. work in the future.
In 2021, Facebook doubled down on Metaverse as a long-term strategic north star for the company. While Zuckerberg's details aren't being revealed (are they ever?), we can be sure that Facebook wants to cash in on its investment in Oculus and further integrate its social networks into the web of our lives. I predict that 2022 will see other social networks and global technology leaders such as Microsoft and Amazon begin to position themselves for the postuniverse future that will undoubtedly play out over the next decade.
Another important trend is the reinvention of art and the way it is bought, sold and owned. 2021 saw the emergence of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) with some innovative moments that caught the attention of the mainstream media, most notably the sale of an NFT for $69 million by digital artist Beeple through auction house Christie's. Another development in this area in 2021 was the sale of NBA highlight clips as NFTs through a partnership between the NBA and Dapper Labs. While jpeg sales like NFT and LeBron dunking highlights are interesting for the Cavs, they don't represent the full scope of the value derived from the NFT's underlying blockchain technology concept. I predict that we will see NFT technology expand into business use cases where proof of ownership needs to be verified.
Another megatrend that I believe will continue in 2022 is the conversion of money. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is a trillion-dollar asset, and to put that into context, that means the 12-year-old cryptocurrency is worth twice JP Morgan's market capitalization. In the summer of this year, we saw the first nation-state adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. El Salvador took this decision to quell rampant inflation and give the population greater access to financial services. I predict that 2022 will see more emerging and third world countries in South America and Africa consider or make the transition to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. I also foresee further progress in the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) space as the entire legacy monetary system is restructured using blockchain and distributed ledger technology. WhatThe strike was announced in conjunction with Twitteris an early example of where I see this trend going in 2022 and beyond.
So... what did I miss? While Bitcoin will undoubtedly be a huge topic that will retain its share of headlines, will blockchain and its various use cases re-emerge with even bigger headlines in 2022? What about confidential IT or cyber security? With so much focus on data, privacy, artificial intelligence and applications, the primary need to preserve data is sure to be at the top. Maybe even Quantum Computing, which has picked up a bit of steam in the past year. Anyway, I'm sure 2022 will be an important year with more technical progress and I can't wait to see what happens.