2022 tech trends

Marketing 1st February 2022

2021 saw cyber security pushed to its limits, demand for remote technologies increase, serious investments into the metaverse, demand for cloud services skyrocket, NFTs hit the market, chip shortages dominate and tech bosses blasting off into space.

So, what can we expect for the year ahead?

Today, our ECS experts will be giving us an insight into their predictions with sustainability, hybrid cloud and the skills shortage being hot topics for 2022.

 

Cloud – Sunil Tailor, Delivery Consultant

Global spending on cloud services is expected to increase significantly, with Gartner predicting this spend will reach over $482 billion in 2022, up from $313 billion in 2020[1].

A focus on sustainability is also expected to grow. Tech giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) made a number of announcements around sustainability at last year’s 2021 re:Invent conference in Las Vegas[2]. One notable announcement was the ‘AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool’, which will help companies keep themselves accountable for their sustainability initiatives.

Multi-Cloud and hybrid cloud will continue to take centre stage. However, there has been chatter on the web about companies looking to adopt hybrid models where companies maintain their own private cloud – meaning on-premises where data never leaves their own network/cloud. This model occurs for a number of reasons; from security and regulatory requirements to not being feasible for immediate cloud transformation projects. Public cloud offerings such as AWS Outposts provides companies opportunities and paths to create transformations with these types of technologies and I suspect we will see more companies looking at these as options in 2022.

Serverless technologies and adoption to reduce operational burden and costs. These types of technologies allow organisations to focus on business logic as opposed to scaling in design. The technology is still evolving, however, and there are apprehensions around vendor lock-in.

DevSecOps operations such as security and compliance tools will see integrations into cloud workstreams. As 2020 saw rapid acceleration to cloud, unforeseen insights would be recognised.”

 

Sustainability – Keith Hinde, Principal Consultant

“Gears are starting to shift on the use of sustainability data by financial institutions. Up until now efforts have been largely tactical and focussed on clearing governance and regulatory hurdles, e.g. modelling risks to the bottom line attributable to sustainability factors. Now proven, the supporting data, processes, models, and teams are seen as much more strategic assets, providing valuable insights across the enterprise.

This influence will be felt in many diverse ways, from reducing the impact of the organisation via decarbonisation programs through to, at the other end of the scale, the development of innovative product offerings which encourage and reward sustainable growth. This is particularly important given the key role financial services plays in providing investment to consumers and businesses alike. Just as importantly, the rapid and effective development of these capabilities within an organisation provides a reusable pattern for data-driven operations both now and in the future.”

 

Data science – Dr Sami Alsindi, Principal Technical Consultant and Nikhil Modha, Senior Consultant

“At ECS, we have seen and are seeing a huge explosion of demand for Data Science. In 2021, ECS’s Data Science capability grew from one (just Sami!) up to a seven-strong team, driven by customer demand across a wide variety of use cases – from animal fraud prevention, Natural Language Call Steering (NLCS), customer segmentation and climate change impact on mortgages.

In 2022, we see this going much further, with our team set to at least double, if not triple, just to meet our clients’ insatiable demands for Data Science!

Interesting advancements have been made in the field of machine learning (ML), in particular the world of Natural Language Processing (NLP). This has had some exciting breakthroughs in the recent year and will continue to be a hot topic throughout 2022.

One of the breakthroughs in NLP is a conversational model from Google known as LaMDA. This solution is able to have an open-ended conversation, allowing for LaMDA to adapt to multiple conversations and contexts rather than following a specific narrow path with predefined outcomes as seen in other chatbots. This new technology has the potential to revolutionise the customer experience allowing for more detailed and open conversations to be had during a customer support phase. Currently, Google has not released their solution to the public domain, however we predict this model and similar technologies will be making significant leaps forward in 2022.

2022 trends LaMDA As well as new developments in software, there are exciting things to keep an eye on in the field of hardware. Quantum Computers are millions of times more powerful than the world’s best classical supercomputers. IBM Quantum have made ground-breaking progress in bringing the power of Quantum Computing to the average consumer.

The introduction of the Qiskit SDK provides the developer a complete set of tools to be able to run code on a quantum machine hosted within the IBM Cloud. This package can be applied to solve various highly complex business problems in Finance, Natural Sciences and Machine Learning which could not be previously solved due to the limitations of a classical computer. The commercialisation of Quantum Computing should follow into 2022 and years to follow and it’s expected to see this technology implemented more and more in future solutions.”

 

Talent – Nick Tasker, Talent Acquisition Specialist

“2022 promises to be a challenging year for talent acquisition, development, and retention. But also, a year with many opportunities for organisations having the foresight to take advantage. The key word here is “flexibility”. From a recruitment and employer branding perspective, simply providing hybrid working does little to differentiate your business from others now.

Employers are focused on market perceptions of their business providing a more positive employee experience – e.g. being a good place to work, develop, nurture, be protected as well as gaining increased salary to attract talent and meet hiring plans. Trends we can expect to see as a result of this:

The continued ‘talent grab’ by large technology companies and other enterprise-scale businesses via allowing their current and new employees to go to fully remote working. Meta is currently deploying this tactic to grow across Europe[3].

The ‘reinvigorated office’ – changes to the workplace to make collaborating with your colleagues safer and bring cohesion to growing teams. For those of us that have missed working in close proximity to co-workers and friends in 2020/2021, businesses (including us) are using this to attract talent and bring people together[4].

The continuing acceleration in recruitment of IT Engineers with Cloud, DevOps/Automation, Data and Software specialisations to support the organisations in not only providing remote working capability but also moving services online for internal and external customers. Digital Transformation continues apace.

A huge surge in new tech start-ups mirrored by a growing UK economy. Edinburgh is 2nd only to London in the UK for tech start-ups, driving the competition for tech talent and shortages[5].

With choppy recruitment waters ahead, we’re also going to see a proliferation of recruitment providers and recruitment SAAS platforms to support organisations in hiring locally and globally. We are way past the Web 1.0 version of advertising and getting quality candidate responses. Every candidate acquired being predominantly sourced through a personalised direct approach by the recruiter.

Hiring processes will continue to transform to meet the speed at which the candidate market is moving – online testing, online interviewing, online assessment centres not to mention lower volume interviews and ‘high touch’ virtual contact strategy with candidates.

Finally, my guess is this is ‘the year of the Data Engineer’. Not only in helping us understand the challenges of a managing a pandemic, but also in the advantages of insight and analytics that provide competitive advantage to our customers across the UK. Our Data Engineers (and others) will contribute to managing vast volumes of data and engineering data pipeline into something Data Scientists can turn into value. This will be the hottest hiring area in the technology sector.”

 

User Experience (UX) – Lucia Gore, UX Designer

UX to complement AI

AI is of course a worry for many designers – as it is for many professions – however, there are gaps that technology has yet to fill and the human aspect of UX design is still integral to the subject. UX thrives in rapid technological environments and so I don’t believe this is remotely detrimental to the future of UX design in any way (yet!).

The mark of a great designer has always been the ability to analyse and predict the user’s behaviours and needs based on past and present data. Although this can now largely be done by AI (in terms of the data), the sensitive challenges that someone who actually lives the human experience can understand is still lacking from AI. Empathy to challenges involving illness, disability, finances, and family for example cannot be solely relied upon AI.

Intuitive interfaces

In terms of the trends, I’ve noticed online in 2021, motion design is becoming prevalent in UX design blogs and ideas – it’s a great way to keep users hooked on a product and make the experience as seamless as possible. Filling blank spaces with relevant animations and live transitions is appealing to user’s emotions and helps to keep users engaged.

Mobile devices are now the primary tool for users and everything that is achievable on a laptop or tablet must now also be achievable on a smartphone – this makes mobile design arguably more important than web design for many products. Smaller devices also mean less screen real estate and therefore gestures (swiping, pinching, tapping or tilting the screen) are key. Designing intuitive gestural interfaces allows more content within an app without overcrowding and overwhelming the user.”

Take a look at Lucia’s blog, The Future of UX Design, for more insights.

 

Total Experience – Kouros Aliabadi​, Solution Architect

“We will see sustainability start to be a major consideration for people selecting cloud platforms and other tooling. We have seen the first steps of this already with recent announcements like the AWS carbon footprint calculator, but I suspect it will just increase in importance.

The importance of customer experience will continue to rise and even be extended further. We are seeing this already with the increase in popularity of total experience, that considers the customer, employee, and user experience. I suspect an increase in the attention to areas like developer experience also.

Much like in the academic/research world, tech has gone through a transition from qualitative to quantitative (aka data driven). I believe that methods for decision making and strategy that consider both sides will take off this year.

Zero trust architectures and, in general, more advanced security-conscious architecture designs will increase in popularity. It is being made more and more achievable through tools like service meshes, better secure storage, secure enclaves and more.

There has also been the release of some excellent developer platforms, to be used and extended for internal organisation use. Sharing software at an enterprise level is a difficult challenge, and some of these new tools are really going to push forward this area. An example of a tool to watch out for in 2022 would be Backstage by the team over at Spotify.”

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Babak Takand, Delivery Consultant

“With processing power and the technology becoming more widely accessible, we can expect to see the AI technology that exists starting to become more and more refined and more exciting tools released. More things are becoming automated and we’re starting to move away from old ways of working – becoming more cloud orientated. In fact, big cloud vendors are constantly improving their tool kits, adopting more AI – especially in AIOps and MLOps.

I suspect the adoption of AI will be similar to the DevOps wave that came up 20 years ago.

So, adoption of AI tech will increase – but companies need to be careful to get their data ready. There will be vast amounts of data to collect ahead of time, which becomes more tedious and slower for more historical systems like banks. Having this data ready is crucial – it will mean that companies are prepared and in a position to introduce intelligence into business processes.

Widescale adoption of AI from an industry perspective will mean the work of the data scientist will become much easier. More and more companies will be in need of AI, even smaller companies will see the benefits as the tools become more accessible and cheaper – helping to keep companies more competitive.

From a consumer’s perspective, we can start to see contact centres and customer service processes becoming more intelligent. Increased data means chatbots will become more refined and perhaps more ‘lifelike’ – constructing a range of responses to help customer queries and being able to complete a range of different tasks.

Consumers can also expect the adverts they see to become a lot more suited to an individual’s needs. Companies have been using AI for a while now, to predict spending habits, and this process is set to become a lot more refined to needs. Phones are the perfect vessel to collect data and with more and more data on where we’re going, what Wi-Fi we’re connecting to, what shops we’re visiting ­– we can start to see better suggestions for what we might want and need.

The pandemic highlighted just how useful all this data can be. The immense amount of data that was collected helped us to track the virus, put measures in place to keep people safe and develop vaccines – life-changing stuff! But with all this extra data being collected, cyber security will be so important.

For a few years now, people have been calling for more AI regulation – so, can we expect to see some hard and fast rules this year? Most likely not. AI is still, technically, an emerging technology. Nobody quite understands its long-term impact. It’s set to be used a lot more, so we’ll be able to get a better understanding as time goes on. But regulation is crucial.

To give an example, the internet was created in 1983 and we’re only just seeing cyberbullying regulation come into play. So, regulation will come, it may just take time. But at the rate that AI is being adopted, we probably won’t have to wait 39 years for it. What would help AI regulation, is if someone who actually understood the technicalities behind AI tech sat on regulatory panels – this would help to ensure laws aren’t too lax or too strong.”

 

Testing – Thomas Shipley, Delivery Consultant

“Continued push to shift testing Left

In the past, testing has been seen as a fixed stage in a rigid SDLC. Today, agile teams share traditionally static roles between people (see T-Shaped people). And yet, testing is one of the roles that organisations still struggle to spread involvement across team members. This leaves QA’s and the teams they are part of to continue findings ways to better address the shared responsibility of testing across all members and the organisation. The QA role will continue to adapt to be more than feature verification and into other interesting avenues such as enablement of others when testing.

Continued push to shift testing Right (a.k.a testing in production)

Testing in production is seen as counterintuitive to some. Production environments are often seen as too risky. But some organisations such as Netflix or Amazon are seeing the benefits of AB Testing for User Research, letting real users decide the best design. They also adopt Chaos Engineering to help learn how to recover from production incidents by introducing them in production and learning from them. It is hard to get a test environment to be the exact same as a production environment. The approaches above choose to not try to replicate production instead accepting that sometimes it is easier to carefully test in production directly. But that is quite a change for many. Organisations can experiment with testing in production by introducing better monitoring and feature flags to experiment with code changes.”

 

DevOps – Jason Man, Solution Architect

DevOps continues to soar in popularity – leading job search portals like indeed.com to witness a 75% rise in listings of DevOps jobs, and social media sites like LinkedIn recording a 50% increase in the mention of DevOps as a skill[6].

The benefits associated with DevOps practices have been proven to increase productivity, efficiency and help businesses scale. This continues to go from strength to strength and inevitably new practices will begin to emerge, alongside different use cases becoming more relevant.

2022 will see more organisations embrace the hybrid way of working – the way organisations choose to distribute their own applications to employees and ensure data and access is secure and protected will continue to be vital. Using DevSecOps practices will continue to enable many to update apps faster, or patch vulnerabilities faster to ensure workforces have the necessary guardrails in place.

DevOps practices will need to mature to keep up with the adoption of IoT – something that is expanding rapidly across all organisations and is forecasted to become a $1,800 billion sector by 2028. DevOps will be key to the adoption and delivery of IoT devices, with the same principles as applications we will need to be able to deliver and maintain software to devices with speed, quality and scale. This will again touch on DevSecOps practices as data will need to be secure across devices with many containing microphones and cameras.”

 

Keep up with trends all year round

So that rounds of our ECS industry predictions for 2022 – if you’d like to stay updated with the latest news, industry insights and topics make sure to check out our Friday Tech Round Up and our Tech³Podcast on Spotify.

 

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Supporting sites

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2021/10/25/the-5-biggest-cloud-computing-trends-in-2022/?sh=5de514ab2267

https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-08-02-gartner-says-four-trends-are-shaping-the-future-of-public-cloud

[2] https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/publicsector/dive-deep-into-sustainability-with-the-reinvent-sustainability-attendee-guide/

[3] https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/metas-remote-work-talent-grab-5685666/

[4] https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/google-to-reinvigorate-uk-offices-5216556/

[5] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-13/megarounds-power-london-to-record-26-billion-in-tech-investment

[6] https://www.simplilearn.com/is-a-devops-career-right-for-you-article

 

 

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