Today, we’ve compiled the most significant tech and business trends to look out for in 2022
As the new year begins, we all look forward to discovering the trends which will shape business practices all over the world and guide the development of technologies. After the pandemic slowed down global growth for a while, leading economies are recovering at accelerated speed. Therefore, the prevailing trends are reflecting both the blistering economic tempo and changing consumer habits.
Sustainability is getting utmost importance
Environmental protection is becoming higher on business agendas, as the world’s biggest economies are collectively committed to reach carbon neutrality as soon as possible. Thus, the European Commission plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, while US federal agencies are bound to be powered by 100% carbon-dioxide-free electricity by 2030. The climate objectives are bold and the terms are pressing. How will that impact businesses and technologies?
The direct impact will be that in 2022 businesses will use more “clean” energy sources in their operations, double their climate-resilient investments, start gradual transition to zero-emission vehicles for their logistic purposes and rely on lower-emissions construction and production materials. Recycling and supply chain optimisation will become more commonplace. As local governments will stimulate the creation of green jobs, existing businesses will be increasingly focused on goods or services that benefit the environment, while startups that come up with new sustainable projects will have better financing opportunities.
In 2022, financial services firms will also enhance their offers of ESG products and services, e.g. green loans and mortgages, or checking accounts with sustainability and carbon-tracking features. Commitment to sustainability and strong ethical principles will be expected from all brands. Increasingly, customers will stick to brands that contribute to the good causes and make a positive impact in their community or even the whole world.
Blockchain use is enhanced
Despite the controversies about the nature and future of cryptocurrencies, the underlying blockchain technology is surely here to stay. Distributed ledgers will be widely adopted by leading companies to track transactions and lessen business conflicts. Blockchain’s transparency, security, immutability, and decentralisation will help businesses to seamlessly enter new partnerships, expand their operations and improve customer experiences through greater supply chain and data integration, as well as sharing of data between organisations.
A majority of participants in Deloitte’s 2021 Global Blockchain Survey also said their industries would see new revenue streams from blockchain, digital assets and crypto solutions. Web 3.0, powered by blockchain technology, will be the next step of the Internet evolution as well, ushering in a decentralised personal data storage. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), blockchain spending will continue to see strong growth throughout the 2020-2024 forecast period with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48.0%. That means, companies across the globe will spend about $10 billion on blockchain technologies in 2022. That figure is likely to double by 2024.
Human/robot balance needs to be found
Experts expect to see an increased use of robotics and AI technologies in everyday life during 2022. In particular, enhanced automation is forecast in health care, agriculture, automotive, warehousing, and supply chain management sectors. Even in social media and advertising, the popularity of robot influencers is rising, presenting new collaboration opportunities for brands. Gartner predicts that, worldwide, AI software revenue will total $62.5 billion in 2022, an increase of 21.3% from 2021. The top five use cases will be virtual assistants, knowledge management, autonomous vehicles, digital workplace, and crowdsourced data.
Although more and more people are getting comfortable with robots and even trust robo-advisers more than human managers, there’s still an ongoing discussion of tech advances stealing jobs from real people. Undoubtedly, the progress in “smart” technologies is unstoppable. Moreover, in the light of Covid-19 limitations, robots and automation provide a safe means for manufacturers to promote social distancing, yet allow businesses to continue operating without disruptions. Therefore, businesses will need to maintain the right balance between their human employees and automated processes or robotic workers.
For instance, robotics process automation (RPA) should be rightfully used to free workers from boring, repetitive tasks. However, businesses need to engage human employees with more fulfilling, creative work instead. Robots also can and should help to prevent injuries or adverse health effects resulting from working in hazardous conditions. Automation can minimise risks stemming from human error in high-risk work settings, requiring the utmost precision and accuracy, as well.
Remote working is growing, facilitated by technology
Although initially forced, the shift toward remote and hybrid working is going to linger. Gartner predicts that in 2022, 31% of all employees worldwide will work remotely. In the US and UK, the percentage will be higher – over half of the total workers will predictably work from the comfort of their homes. This tendency brings the quality and speed of the Internet connection to the forefront. Therefore, the stride of 5G across the globe will become more confident despite all conspiracy theories. In addition, advanced team communication methods including immersive virtual workspaces will continue to appear at least in beta testing. New office designs and audio/video technology will pave the way for flexible work meetings and new ways to build social connections remotely.
While 5G may still be in its infancy, we’ll see an increased focus on 6G in 2022. The US and China have already started their research of the technology. 6G networks will be able to use higher frequencies than 5G networks and provide substantially higher capacity and much lower latency. Working along artificial intelligence (AI), the computational infrastructure of 6G will autonomously determine the best location for computing to occur; this includes automated decisions about data storage, processing and sharing.
Metaverse is moving from ideas to implementation
Facebook rebranding brought 2021 another buzz word and a vision of a brilliant virtual future. At the same time, Metaverse ideas remain separate at the time and we’re not likely to see the seamlessly unified meta-world this year. However, tech companies and global brands will surely pursue the new trend. Metaverse projects will likely pop up on a business scene, whether to improve employee training or customer experiences. Virtual real estate will become more commonplace in the NFT ecosystem this year too, as industries start exploring and reimagining virtual experiences. Big tech like Google, Microsoft and Apple may introduce their own headsets and operating systems for the metaverse, including separate solutions for PCs and smartphones. Still, companies must be careful not to exaggerate their Metaverse promises, as the concept will need more than a year to mature, not to mention the ultimate implementation.
Mass quantum computing is on the way
Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerging technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers. As commercial quantum computing comes within reach, new breakthroughs will be occurring at an accelerating pace. Google, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon are already looking into it, but smaller players may participate and contribute to the research as soon as they realise that quantum particles hold immense potential, in particular to hold and process large amounts of information. Moreover, quantum computing is very promising if applied to security and encryption technologies. Therefore, we’ll see more innovations in post-quantum cryptography, quantum key distribution and homomorphic encryption this year. The quantum computing market is projected to reach $64.98 billion by 2030.
Biotechnologies and life science are gaining momentum
As the pandemic forces humanity to pay more attention to healthcare and medical research, the technologies related to this industry will continue to evolve rapidly, attracting heavy funding from both public and private sectors. As we’ve already seen, increased investments in mRNA vaccine technology allowed pharmaceutical companies to quickly deploy new vaccines in response to a sudden viral threat. Recent Covid drug developments by Merck are also very promising and will drive further growth in the life science industry.
The advanced research will result in clinical trials of the new technologies affecting healthcare. Thus, robotics may improve the performance of surgeries, AI can predict and prevent illnesses based on patients’ personal data, while advanced communication means will facilitate remote medical consultations. With more health wearables measuring personal health and body data, more self-assessment of a current health condition will be possible. Devices like that will be increasingly providing valuable insights and even contact the doctors in case of an emergency. Biotechnologies will become more industrialised, driving the rapid growth of an innovative bioeconomy.