2021 was an exciting year for several reasons, one of the main factors being the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. One year on, many individuals and companies have adjusted, and those who were not broken by the last year’s challenges became stronger, thanks primarily to technological innovations.
As employers, employees and entrepreneurs turn to the internet; the shift has sparked an unprecedented demand for fast-evolving technological solutions. Given the high stakes in 2021 and the technological trends that rose to the occasion, anyone interested in tech knows how quickly the latest tools can soon become obsolete.
So naturally, an update to last year’s emerging technology trends is in order. Unlike the 2020 trends, which were solely focused on navigating the pandemic, this time, the list of emerging technology trends highlights strategic and innovative developments. These tech solutions are geared toward delivering digitalization, growth, and efficiency.
Which 2021 Technology Worked Out The Most
As expected, not every technology to watch in 2021 lived up to expectations since predictions are not always accurate. However, some of these technologies also changed lives in big ways during the year. Chief among them was the drug development revolution, mainly due to the messenger RNA vaccines and advanced covid-19 testing.
This technology has been under development for over 20 years. However, the outbreak of the pandemic marked a race to create viable vaccines. The breakthrough for messenger RNA vaccines came in late December 2020. At this point, the pandemic claimed over 1.5 million lives worldwide. But the approval of the vaccines in the US marked the eventual end of the pandemic.
The technology that backed these new covid vaccines has never seen therapeutic use, and it has the potential to transform medicine. Some of the possibilities include vaccines for diverse infectious diseases such as malaria.
But all the fuss about vaccines shouldn’t prevent us from noticing the industry-wide ripples caused by other technologies. Thus, here are the technological trends to watch for the year 2022 and beyond.
1. Sustainable Energy Solutions
The only energy source to record increased usage during the pandemic was renewable energy. To be more precise, the use of renewable energy in the US rose by 40% ten-week after the lockdown started. Globally, the narrative was more of the same, with non-renewable energy consumption reducing as companies closed and workers remained indoors, resulting in an 8% decrease in emissions. Consequently, many predict an increased investment directed toward energy generation from renewable resources in the years to come. Per the estimations of The International Energy Agency (IEA), 2020 saw a 40% surge in energy generation from renewable sources.
The agency expects this rise to persist throughout 2022. One contributing factor is the 16% fall in the cost of producing renewable energy from different sources such as tidal, solar, onshore, and offshore wind. The reduced cost can prove highly beneficial for industries and nations looking to achieve emission targets like becoming carbon negative or carbon neutral. Coupled with the increased viability of new energy sources, including liquid hydrogen, biofuels, and biofuels, breakthroughs in sustainable energy solutions are bound to produce profound environmental impacts in 2022 and beyond.
2. Customer Data Platforms (CDP)
The Customer Data Platform Industry Update reports show that the industry has bounced back after a dip in 2020. CDP company enjoyed expansion in the first two quarters of 2021. The sector increased from 131 to 151 vendors, added over 1200 workers, and secured about $550 million in investor funds. This growth comes as a fresh breath in an industry that went through a brief slump during the onset of the covid-19 pandemic over a year ago, per the CDP Institute.
At this point, marketers are aware that CDPs are not created the same. As mentioned in CMSWire’s 2021 CBD Market Guide, there are six classifications of CDPs, namely:
- Smart-Hub: ActionIQ
- Digital Data Integration: Tealium, mParticle
- Data Science: Treasure Data, ACquia, SAS
- Identity Management: Quaero, Amperity
- Site Personalization: Lytics, Blueconic
- Marketing Cloud Infrastructure: Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle
Given the subsequent expansion in the industry, certain larger marketing technology vendors, also known as Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs), are joining the CDP boom. In support of this are three acquisitions during the year: BloomReach’s Exponea acquisition on January 26, Zaius’ acquisition by Optimizely on Feb.22, and Sitecore’s acquisition of Boxever on March 3. Each of these acquisitions shows that growth and technological advancements in CDP are to be expected in 2022 and beyond.
3. Cloud-Native Platform (CNPs)
Contemporary office-based enterprise is making way for hybrid and more remote arrangements. Consequently, data infrastructure has to adjust to the geographically distributed nature of the present and future workplace. The adjustment makes distributed infrastructure and services a necessity, which are best provided in the cloud. Hence, making it highly valuable in several digital operations and even in the latest mobile app development trends.
Through cloud-native platforms, organizations can obtain elastic and scalable IT-related services at more affordable costs. According to the predictions of Gartner, 75% of distributed companies will outgrow non-distributed competitors by 25% by 2023. Meanwhile, the projections also show that CNPs will support 95% of the total digital initiatives by this year. Organizations can obtain elastic and scalable IT-related services at more affordable costs through cloud-native platforms, taking full advantage of cloud computing and its benefit.
Interesting Read: Top 20 Mobile App Development Trends to Look for in 2021
4. Internet of Behaviors (IoB)
Due to the increased digitization of the world, businesses and organizations continue to rely more on information and data as key to success. One essential aspect of customer data is the internet of behavior, or IoB for short. It provides valuable insight into consumer behavior. To remain competitive and maintain an edge over emerging challenges, organizations can leverage IoB through data collection and analysis to improve customer interactions, understand consumer preferences, and purchasing decisions.
In a way, IoT is related to the internet of things in that it sheds more light on the way consumers are partaking in the purchasing journey. Furthermore, it involves the analysis of data from a psychological perspective after gathering, whether big data, BI or CDP from IoT and diverse sources online. Overall, this emerging technology is aimed at helping companies enhance user engagement and the experience of their clients in a more meaningful way. Although this technology is still in its early phases, experts believe over 50% of the global population is exposed to at least one IoB program from private organizations or the government. This means it could be one of the future technologies to become mainstream in a few years.
5. Cyber Security Mesh
The ever-increasing incidents of cyber-attacks show that the current standards of cyber security have several pitfalls and potholes. The situation is even worse as more people work from and use their own devices to access company infrastructure. Cyber Security Mesh presents a holistic method for addressing security pitfalls and holes associated with end-users and devices located outside network walls.
Cyber security mesh adopts a new approach to digital security by enabling businesses to develop security measures specific to the identity of a device instead of the proximity to protected connections. It uses a distributed framework as opposed to defining a perimeter according to a network’s reach. It seems to present a solution for the limitations of traditional security measures when faced with a large-scale remote workforce. Hence, offering a more scalable form of cybersecurity in the coming months and years.
6. Decision Intelligence (DI)
Although it’s been around for a while, Decision Intelligence (DI) is still relatively new in IT. This field emerged in 2012 after the research of Mark Zandari and Dr. Lorien Pratt. It is a technology designed to help companies and business leaders to understand the possible outcomes of a decision before making a move. It differs from artificial intelligence in that DI allows the commercial use of AI to achieve better profit and expansion.
Decision Intelligence is fueled by one vital asset – data. Thus, it helps companies to unlock the value of their data through AI technology. In other words, it facilitates the making of more sound and consistent decisions at the business level. More organizations are investing in data. In two years to come, one-third of large businesses will achieve a more structured decision-making approach using DI, increasing their competitive edge.
Hyperautomation is a vital tool for future-proof organizations. It involves AI-enabled robotic processes but goes way beyond RPA to include other digital technologies like IoT to improve operation at every level of the business as well as customer satisfaction. Leveraging intelligent automation, coupled with the latest artificial intelligence technologies, raises the bar by connecting processes, people, and products to deliver hyperautomation. This technology aims to rapidly determine, analyze, and automate as many processes as necessary to achieve business resilience and increase growth.
It is a promising technology in manufacturing and supply chain, providing the ideal solution to challenges inefficiencies facing the global supply chain. Companies with high-volume processes should be automated and streamlined to accelerate them and enable real-time adaptation to demands or challenges. Consequently, the future of work with hyperautomation is completing tasks with robots instead, the re-imaging of work as completed by technology-enabled employees.
8. Privacy-Enhancing Computation (PEC)
This trend is part of the “people centricity” category and comprises three technologies all meant to safeguard data while it is with users. PEC involves these three main aspects:
- A safe environment for the processing and analysis of sensitive data.
- A decentralized approach to data processing and analytics.
- Data encryption and algorithms always precede processing and analysis of data.
PEC was developed in response to the increased need for privacy and security when sharing data. Businesses armed with this technology can carry out safer research over regions with many competitors without fear of losing their confidentiality or privacy. Hence, it helps organizations reassure their B2B partners and consumers alike of the safety of their data. As such, projections show that about 60% of large business entities will adopt one if not more PET methods by 2025.
9. AI Engineering
AI engineering is a discipline in the technology industry dedicated to developing systems, tools, and processes to allow the application of AI in real-world situations. Contrary to the widespread rush to create advanced and individual devices, this emerging field of technology has a different set of concerns, such as:
- In what ways can AI enable humans to accomplish mission outcomes?
- What limitations do today’s AI systems have?
- What are the ways to uphold ethical standards in deployed AI systems?
Despite the rapid rise in datasets and computing power, IT leaders can lack adequate engineering skills and discipline to integrate AI into different applications. With AI engineering, industries will operationalize AI models using an integrated approach. This disciple will exponentially increase the value of AI assets for enterprises that invest in them in the coming years.
10. Smart Work from Home Technologies
Before the pandemic hit, most people believed that organizations could not innovate in a dispersed work environment. If anything, 2020 proved this belief wrong as businesses looked for viable ways to adjust with sustainable and large-scale work-from-home solutions. More than one year later, successfully adapted companies have reached higher levels of competitiveness in the post-pandemic marketplace.
Better and smarter work-from-home technologies have become vital to the ever-increasing pace of change in this post-pandemic era. Employees require it, competitors may outmaneuver you without it, and customers may look elsewhere if you don’t deliver such technologies. Moreover, investors and analysts look for these innovative remote working policies to judge a business’s resilience to change. Prominent examples of such work from home solutions include Zoom, Trello, Slack, Microsoft Teams, ClickUp, and ProofHub, among several others. Most of the tools have seen exponential growth recently, and 2022 will be no different.
11. Anywhere Operations
Most people, workers, and customers alike are left wondering what is next after the massive shift to remote work over the previous months. Instead of focusing on return-to-work policies, visionary business leaders have joined forces with other business units to develop a sustainable “anywhere operations” model for good measure. The essential components of anywhere operations models are:
- People-centric and local independence
- Virtual collaboration
- Digital readiness
Each of these components comes under intense strain during the eventful months of 2020. It turns out the resulting solutions developed to address these challenges were more than temporal operational measures. Consequently, Gartner termed this emerging era of work as the “everywhere enterprise.”
These types of enterprises result in decentralized operations, with improved access to a broader talent pool and enhanced business resiliency, in a model known as “anywhere operations.”
12. Cryptocurrency And Bitcoins
At this point, almost everyone is aware of blockchain and how cryptocurrency is revolutionizing industries globally. From healthcare, banking, and politics, every sector could benefit from a decentralized digital ledger that stores and tracks information in different places, eliminating forgery. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin leverage blockchain to facilitate the buying and selling of products or services online. Many consider crypto to be a major disruptive force in the future of finance. Although it emerged more than a decade ago, cryptos are yet to reach their full potential. The early years were characterized by price fluctuation, but 2021 recorded the highest BTC price of over $66,974 on October 20. Thus, far, investors and financial experts agree that the coming decade will prove pivotal for the evolution of BTC and other cryptocurrencies.
Given the increasing amount of data transfer, connected devices can’t afford to have the same laggy connectivity as the original iPhone. This is where 5G makes for a compelling new solution. This new model of network speed is the newcomer coming after the 4G and comes with much better speed due to higher-frequency radio waves. The successful and widespread implementation of this groundbreaking technology will profoundly impact several industries regarding the quantity and quality of transmitted data. It could upend the limitations regarding the connections of autonomous technologies, drones, and vehicles to the internet and fuels innovations in IoT and virtual reality.
14. Genetic Predictions
The astronomical increase in computing power means better analysis of individual genomes and more accurate predictions of possible conditions like breast cancer and heart disease. Irrespective of the potential drawbacks of genetic discrimination, predictions based on DNA could be the next big thing in general medicine. This technology could result in better diagnosis and more personalized treatments for several gene-determined conditions. Given the complexity of the human genome, technology has barely scratched the surface, and the coming years will see significant growth in this sector.
15. Edge Computing/ Intelligent Edge
Even though a significant portion of the data processed between connected devices currently occurs in the cloud, the continuous to and fro transfer of data can mean more time. At times, a few seconds in computing can have a major impact on system efficiency. Although 5G presents a temporary solution, a much simpler answer might be enabling connected objects in a network to self-process data. This is known as edge computing or intelligent edge. The approach to data processing could solve a wide array of challenges in transport, manufacturing, healthcare, and any other industry where split-seconds are crucial to the success of different operations. As computing and connection speeds improve, intelligent devices will gain more popularity in the coming years.
Given the current pace of change and innovation, keeping a tap on the latest and hottest technology trends is warranted and necessary. Businesses, both large and small, must embrace these emerging changes in the world’s technological landscape. Then leveraging the relevant tools and platforms at your disposal, you should innovate if you want to surmount the ever-evolving challenges facing industries, consumers, and businesses alike. Overall, these are exciting times and the anticipations of the coming months have stakeholders from different sectors holding their breaths. So which of these trends in IT do you think will make the most impact during 2022? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.