The year 2022 may be arriving for the first time in history, but past prognosticators have already delivered the definitive pop culture version of it nearly fifty years ago with the 1973 science fiction film Soylent Green.
That grim version of what is now the present encompassed plenty of elements that aren’t unfamiliar to us now — climate change, polluted skies, police brutality, social inequality, corporate corruption, and a meal replacement product called “Soylent.” Add a pandemic, and you have the present day! Let’s just hope someone has set a more optimistic science fiction tale in 2023 so we have a better prediction to look forward to next year.
Until then, we’ll have to make do with our current batch of the finest technology predictions from experts across a vast range of industries, hand-selected from a pool of several hundred educated guesses about what’s to come in the new year and beyond. And unlike Soylent Green, these ones are perfectly digestible.
What’s to come…
We Develop a Real Remote Work Infrastructure
The continued expansion of remote work is no surprise. And as an ever-greater number of companies settle into long-term remote and hybrid work models, they’ll need a new generation of tools and software to help them, says Tony Huie, Cofounder and CEO at cybersecurity company Twingate.
“Between these constant pandemic-induced changes and greater demand for more flexible work environments, Twingate has seen an unprecedented level of interest in Zero Trust cloud security solutions from organizations looking to upgrade and update their remote work policies and technologies,” says Huie. “Now two years into the pandemic, organizations are no longer on the back foot and are expected to proactively adopt measures to address the new norms of working, including ensuring the security of their data even though all or most of their workforce is remote.”
Companies navigating the inclusion of remote workers must prioritize speed and security at scale, but will need greater flexibility as well. Traditional data center architectures and public cloud solutions won’t be enough — expect large new expenditures in hybrid work cloud adoption.
“In 2022,” says Kathryn Smithson, CMO of Adly, “we will see more adoption of hybrid cloud because it provides tremendous agility for growing and supporting remote personnel, allowing businesses to pivot as business demands evolve and change in an uncertain world.”
The data backs up this prediction, notes Joshua Lenon, a lawyer in residence at legal management software company Clio. The 2021 Legal Trends Report found that firms that adopted cloud based technology early in 2020 (online payments, client portals, and client intake and CRM software) went on to see 6% year-over-year growth, as well as almost 40% more revenue per lawyer compared to firms not using these technologies.
Other top growth-enablers that may prove popular in freshly remote work environments include multi-cloud deployments and machine-learning remote worker assistance tools.
All that remote work infrastructure can be tough to deploy, given the fact that IT teams can’t just show up at the doorstep of every member of an internationally located team.
Instead, remote workers will need to pick up just enough technical know-how to get by. One way tech can ease them into that process is with “no-code” or “low-code” software, a term for programs that avoid complex code and instead let users build programs and apps with basic logic and visual elements like drag-and-drop menus.
“2022 will be a year that demands simple solutions to complex problems,” argues Alex Mastin, founder of Home Grounds. “One of the emerging trends that will take hold in 2022 is the use of low-code and no-code solutions. No-code and low-code development allow for instant adaptation to company requirements and market demands. The ease of facilitating change makes it quite beneficial for organizations since it reduces the cost of development while enabling growth.”
Another benefit to no-code solutions is the reduction of security risks tied to code issues — it could have protected a company from the dangerous Log4Shell vulnerability that was just uncovered this month, for example.
But in the end, it’s all about speed. Low-code options are great for those who need to “drastically cut the time needed to develop an app or software,” notes SEO consultant Matt Jackson.
Or We Just Cut Down on All the Remote Work
It wouldn’t be our annual Tech.co predictions article without an alternative viewpoint to a popular stance on the future. Daniel Bakh, co-founder and CEO at Fullview, argues that we’ll see a decrease in remote work in the upcoming year, rather than a steady uptick.
“The past 2 years of the pandemic forced many companies to adopt remote work, which brought a lot of excessive hype to the trend of remote work. The hype will die down as companies realize the lack of in-office communication, water cooler talk and the cultural drawbacks of remote teams is a drain on the productivity and well being of employees. Remote work makes employees feel isolated and siloed from their colleagues, and post pandemic we will see a drawback from remote set ups.”
Bakh has a point. Many people heavily prefer working in person over remote Zoom conferences five days a week, and the practical benefits of the physical office are tangible.
Plus, it’s true that many large companies have pushed for a return to office consistently over the course of the pandemic, even if they haven’t gotten it quite yet.
And though Bakh doesn’t touch on them, there are a handful of unpleasant reasons why big businesses might push for in-office work, too, from a dependence on micromanagement to a hidden bias against hiring anyone with an insurance-premium-hiking disability — tricky discrimination habits, like requiring someone to be able to lift 25 pounds in a job application, wouldn’t make sense for those working from their own homes.
Fraud operations are getting increasingly sophisticated, as the typical cybercrime arms race continues between prevention experts’ efforts and criminals’ innovations to beat them.
Steve Pogson, Founder & E-commerce Strategy Lead at FirstPier, notes that the tech industry’s overall dollar loss to fraud is “steadily increasing, with no indications of diminishing.” The digitization that follows remote work only makes these criminal operations more efficient, he adds.
“Massive databases of stolen data are easily accessible, allowing for precision targeting of systems all around the world. Fraudsters are utilizing real user behavior to hijack sessions and exploit weak points like first-time logins, thanks to a thorough awareness of the current defense systems. Fraudsters can impersonate any device, anywhere in the globe, or hundreds of them at once, using GPS simulation and device emulators.”
One big area where we can expect to see innovation from fraud groups in 2022? Mobile devices, says Justin Lie, Founder and CEO of SHIELD (a cybersecurity company, not the Marvel movie spy organization).
Our phones are everywhere these days, useful for everything from checking our heart rate to straightening a photo frame, Lie points out. And since the mobile commerce and social commerce fields are growing fast in 2022, fraudsters will get in on the action.
“As apps like these grow in popularity,” Lie says, “they tend to add new features to expand their service offering. For fraudsters, this means more opportunities for abuse. Apps must prepare for this and implement appropriate countermeasures earlier rather than later. We can no longer cut corners when it comes to online fraud. It’s here to stay.”
But even outright fraud isn’t the only way we can expect malicious technology to evolve across the next twelve months. There’s also the plague of scalper bots.
Ticket scalpers are individuals who buy large amounts of tickets as soon as they go on sale, in order to turn a profit by hiking the price and reselling them to the people who actually want them. Other types of scalpers exist as well, from electronics to sneakers. But when you have a simple task like making an online purchase, the best solution is to use an automated bot.
“Over the last year we have seen the number and sophistication of scalper bot attacks rise, ” says Matthew Gracey-McMinn, Head of Threat Research at Netacea. “The scalper bot ecosystem is developing rapidly and is becoming increasingly professionalized, with some of the more advanced groups actually registering themselves as formal companies. As part of this ecosystem, we have seen much more in the way of training and tutorials being offered to people, as well as scalping tools being designed with ease of use in mind. Consequently, the barrier to entry is lower, and as more and more people are lured into using scalper bots by the promise of guaranteed returns, we are seeing a greater investment of time and skill into bot tooling and techniques.”
As a result, says Gracey-McMinn, scalper bot users have triggered a sort of feedback loop in which better bots lead to more money earned, which attracts more scalpers interested in a fast buck.
Eventually, the field may become overcrowded and stop the bot onslaught, but that’s unlikely to happen in 2022. Or possibly even 2023, given the fact that these scalpers are so driven that they’re creating tutorials. That’s dedication.
Keith Stewart, Chief Growth Officer of K4Connect – a tech company that creates solutions for older adults – and Cindy Phillips, Chief of Staff and Managing Partner at K4Advisors – both shared interesting predictions for the senior living field in the new year.
Stewart sees an expansion in how the Senior industry operates, with more tech solutions increasing as the older population grows more tech-friendly:
“Gig services (primarily ride sharing and on demand delivery) are starting to make their way into serving older adults specifically. We’ll certainly see this continue and expand as the demographics shift further towards wealthy boomers with technology expectations.”
Cindy Phillips predicts senior living communities will start investing further in tech services that reach out to prospective or wait-listed clients with experiences they can appreciate, from virtual content to wellness offerings, or invites to special events, dining, a marketplace or travel clubs.
A related prediction is the creation of a community position dedicated to resident technology.
“COVID certainly cemented that technology is here to stay and communities need to invest in resources to support it, accelerate it, and integrate into activities and wellness programming. To truly demonstrate the importance of technology — and its success at the community level — in 2022 we’ll see communities really investing in staff who can champion resident technologies.”
Naturally, they’ll have help setting guidelines from resident technology advisory groups, IT directors and the occasional CIO at the operator level.
Holographic commercials are a common feature in cyberpunk sci-fi stories, and (for better or for worse) augmented reality advertising might be the closest thing we get. Paige O’Neill, Chief Marketing Officer for Sitecore, foresees growth in the area in the future.
“Augmented reality (AR) applications – and virtual reality (VR) – are bringing physical and digital spaces together and will grow as marketers see the versatility and convenience they offer,” says O’Neill.
Granted, AR is already used in online shopping, where companies like Wayfair allow users to see furniture in their room before purchasing, or Warby Parker, which lets eyeglass shoppers try on frames using a webcam, O’Neill notes. But AR applications could include physical stores as well as digital.
“Shoppers visiting a physical store can use their smartphones to scan a QR code to see product details instantly, see items in stock and their exact location in-store, and even ‘try on’ a new shade of lipstick on their phone screen. AR and VR create unique experiences and convey value to customers looking for personalized options.”
This is not quite the big 3D shark hologram that advertised Jaws 19 in Back to the Future Part 2, but it’s getting there. We can certainly expect plenty of VR ads if the Metaverse ever gets off the ground, since selling ads is Facebook’s bread and butter.
In one more very plausible but not-necessarily-as-great-as-it-sounds prediction, John Forrester, Senior Vice President Product at Ocrolus, has spotted many reasons why it’ll be easier than ever to secure a loan in 2022.
Businesses that are “hanging by a thread” in the wake of Covid-19 will need loans, as will the gig workers who face barriers due to outdated analysis tools that lock them out currently, despite the fact gig workers account for about 34% of the workforce. And tech advances can streamline the process:
“In 2022, loans will be approved in hours, not days, weeks or even months as has been the traditional model, giving consumers and small businesses more options and far greater access to capital.”
But is it good for an economy to offer many people far greater access to capital in the form of a loan with interest? An increase in short-term benefits may not be helpful in the long run.
Buy Now Pay Later services, or BNPL for short, are also predicted to enter a new stage as a real alternative to credit cards. Omer Shatzky, Head of FinTech and Payment Experts at Wix, notes that “by combining open banking capabilities, these companies can offer credit solutions to the consumer.” Yet Reuters reported in September that a third of U.S. BNPL users have fallen behind on one or more payments, and 72% reported that their credit score declined because of it.
Still, the need for loans and credit probably won’t go up among at least one group – those depending on salaried tech work to pay the bills. Our next expert predicts that the tech industry will start spending more to retain and attract the best talent.
The COVID-19 economy has been defined by the “great resignation,” a term for the slower labor market brought on by workers re-evaluating their lifestyles and choosing to leave unsafe environments, or positions that they no longer see as worthwhile in their increasingly busy lives.
According to Danny Allan, Chief Technology Officer at Veeam, the new year will see a big response from employers in the form of better salaries and bonuses, with a subsequent shift in power among the biggest corporations and the scrappiest startups:
“As we continue to see turnover and lower employee retention, tech salaries will begin to grow in 2022 to incentivize talent to stay. I see this causing an interesting dynamic, presenting bigger challenges, especially to the folks in the startup and VC world. The bigger tech giants are the ones who can meet the high dollar demand and deliver benefits for a competitive workforce. It will be interesting to see in the years ahead what this does for innovation, which tends to come from the hungry startups where people work for very little for a long time.”
The potential upshot of this restructuring, Allen says, could be a sizable amount of tech talent returning to ‘old guard’ companies that can offer large, stable salaries, while skipping the hard-knock startup life. And since startups are the common training grounds for a new crop of skilled workers, we might see a years-long talent gap in the near future.
A surprisingly strong theme from the hundreds of expert predictions we surveyed for this article was the feeling that the old ways remain the best. For all our tech-loving community tends to talk about the next big innovation, it’s tough to improve on perfection.
2022 will undoubtedly usher in changes, and probably more than we want. Why not tip the balance back towards the familiar? In the new year, expect SMS texting to stay popular:
“People are becoming more and more conscious that texting is the best way to reach people,” says Sam Pelton, the definitely-not-biased content director for Mobile Text Alerts. “Thus, we predict that 2022 will see an uptick more than ever in the use of texting to alert customers of promotions, events, and announcements.”
As well as the increasingly mainstream medium of podcasting:
“Although there has been an increase in a variety of podcasts and their content, we are going to see an even bigger jump in the amount of high quality, professional podcasts in 2022,” says Olivia Long, editor-in-chief at DroneGuru. “We are seeing a need for more authentic content, and there are people taking the opportunity to capitalize on it while the podcast train is hot.”
The vinyl revival continues to grow, too. And when people aren’t staring at texts while listening to their podcast or LP, they might check their email. The hyper-personalization of modern ad algorithms has benefits, but sometimes you want to discover a cool newsletter by yourself. Best of all, email arrives at a fairly predictable rate. The rest of 2022 definitely won’t.