9 emerging tech trends IT leaders need to watch

Keeping on top of the newest new thing is fast becoming a tall order. At the same time, it’s never been more important to IT and enterprise success. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of IT leaders told IEEE that determining what technologies are needed for their company in the post-pandemic future will be challenging.

There are a number of emerging technologies (or new applications of existing technologies) vying for attention as CIOs turn their focus to enabling their businesses for the future. Those that actually get on the radar, however, will need to “help address a problem, improve effectiveness and efficiency, or provide a competitive advantage,” says Sudhir Reddy, executive vice president and group CIO for Capgemini.

Looking at 2022 and beyond, CIOs charged with outfitting hybrid workplaces, enabling more resilient and flexible supply chains, and continuing the digital transformation march will be eyeing multiple new capabilities in concert. “Rather than single technologies, CIOs will have to focus on confluence of these to drive transformation,” says Yugal Joshi, who leads Everest Group’s digital, cloud, and application services research practices.

[ Read also: 4 metaverse tools that tackle workplace collaboration. ]

9 technology trends for IT leaders to watch

Following are some of the new technologies and capabilities with broad applications across companies and sectors for 2022 and beyond.

1. Hybrid workplace enablement tools

As the impact of COVID-19 persists and hybrid work continues, new and better tools to enable the mixed environment may emerge. Nearly all technology leaders (97%) surveyed by IEEE agree that their team is working more closely than ever before with human resources leaders to implement workplace technologies and apps for office check-in, space usage data and analytics, COVID and health protocols, employee productivity, engagement, and mental health. Joshi of Everest Group expects CIOs to be evaluating and adopting more augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) tools and next-generation collaboration suites.

2. Cloud simplification technologies

“As more workloads move to the cloud, technologies that allow portability, like container orchestration and cloud workload management, will increasingly emerge on CIO radars,” says Reddy.

“Cloud orchestration technologies make multi-cloud adoption and hybrid workload management possible. This ensures portability and avoids lock-in,” Reddy explains. “Cloud workload management solutions help monitor load/performance, allowing you to either switch off unused virtual machines or start additional ones dynamically based on rulesets.”

Looking forward, IT leaders will be looking at cloud-native technologies and platforms to take full advantage of cloud’s core capabilities for greater innovation at speed and scale. Gartner predicts that cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95 percent of new digital initiatives by 2025 (up from 30 percent of workloads in 2021).

[ Learn more about hybrid cloud strategy. Get the free eBooks, Hybrid Cloud Strategy for Dummies and Multi-Cloud Portability for Dummies. ]

3. Cloud control planes

The combination of accelerated cloud adoption and the digitally distributed workforce and enterprise has created some big ol’ surfaces for cyber attacks. As a result, CIOs are rethinking how they protect their organizations in this new normal.

“Due to the new normal driving a borderless workforce, it has become important for CIOs to rethink the enterprise network and if it is even meaningful in this new context,” says Reddy of Capgemini. His organization has embraced the concept of “internet as network” and plans to put a control plane in place from which IT will provide role-based access to applications.

“In doing so, we will be able to shrink the traditional enterprise network significantly and all the threats associated with giving access to the network,” Reddy explains. A kind of air traffic control for application, a control plane provides management and orchestration across an enterprise’s cloud deployments.

4. Smart space technology

“As private 5G further evolves, I expect clients to adopt it to transform their industrial operations,” says Joshi. “This will require investment in newer infrastructure and engineering solutions.”

This will be augmented with smart space technologies that help in building intelligent physical spaces, such as manufacturing plants, retail stores, and sports stadiums. IEEE found that 82 percent of surveyed IT leaders agree that implementing smart building technologies that benefit sustainability, decarbonization and energy savings has become a top priority.

[ Read also: Edge computing: 3 ways you can use it now ]

5. Automating automation

Many organizations found themselves digitizing and automating critical customer-facing applications in the early days of the pandemic. What they need to do now is create roadmaps for automating more of the business processes for greater efficiency and resiliency in the long term.

[ Read also: 4 Robotic Process Automation (RPA) trends to watch in 2022. ]

Companies are increasingly looking to robotic process automation (RPA) for this task. “RPA tools are becoming easier to use in automating repetitive administrative actions or business processes based on programmable logic,” says Reddy. One of the big artificial intelligence (AI) trends CIOs will be keeping an eye is the maturation of process discovery technologies, which can provide an intelligent way to boost the RPA pipeline.

6. Collaborative data platforms

The ability to share data beyond organizational borders to create new insights is becoming increasingly important. The ability to create data ecosystems will be a top priority for enterprises in 2022, says Jerry Kurtz, executive VP, insights & data, at Capgemini Americas. In fact, organizations applying insights from data belonging to their partners or suppliers have twice the market capitalization, according to an early 2021 study published by Capgemini. Secure, real-time cloud-based data exchanges, along with solution providers that enable collaboration based on data without the actual sharing of the granular data itself, are key enabling technologies here.

The ability to create data ecosystems will be a top priority for enterprises in 2022

7. Blockchain applications

The enterprise use cases for open-source distributed database and ledger technology are becoming clearer. The four most important uses cases cited by IT leaders surveyed by IEEE will be secure machine-to-machine interaction in the Internet of Things, shipment tracing and contactless digital transactions, keeping health and medical records secure in the cloud, and securing connecting parties within a specified ecosystem.

8. Generative AI

The world is abuzz with the promise of generative AI from natural-language generation models that can write computer code to algorithms that produce deepfakes.

It’s not all hype. There are some meaty enterprise applications for generative AI, which is far more dynamic than the machine learning currently being used in most organizations.

“Generative AI refers to models that analyze various forms of data (text, video, sound, imagery) and produce their own novel content,” says Erik Brown, a senior partner in technology at West Monroe. “Far more productive applications are possible in business. Imagine a model that tests and creates a highly optimized marketing plan or one that can formulate likely vaccine candidates during a worldwide pandemic in a matter of weeks.”

9. Next-generation EDR

As ransomware continues to rile organizations, next-generation endpoint detection and response (EDR) is emerging as a key cybersecurity capability for the next normal, providing increased visibility into threats with machine learning detection for faster response.

“Next-generation EDR solutions have the attention of CIOs because they combine behavior analysis, anomaly detection, and real-time updates from threat engines to provide breach protection,” says Capgemini’s Reddy.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]


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