As the new year is starting, everyone is on the lookout for new trends and new ideas they should keep an eye on. At the beginning of every year, businesses start anew and prepare for new challenges. Staying one step ahead of the competition is the main goal and implementing new and exciting ideas becomes interesting when creating added value. With the way technology is evolving and pushing boundaries even further, it is imperative that companies also evolve around it. Even though technology presents new opportunities, it also poses new challenges and threats. Recognising which of the technology advances are opportunities and which are threats is important so new strategies can be applied and calculated decisions could be made. So, what key trends in technology and the online world will have an impact on businesses in 2022?
Continued growth in AI and machine learning
If the trends are anything to go by, AI and machine learning will make a big difference in business and technology approaches. Incorporating user behaviour into decision-making is not simple and straightforward. Delivering immaculate products and services that rely heavily on how the user interacts and uses them, means that companies will have to adapt to using AI and machine learning into predicting and shaping future ways of interacting with their users. We have already seen a rise of AI and machine learning in the online world, especially in social media, gaming, online services, and solutions, but it is expected that more companies will take on these technological advances. They will be utilised in creating products and services that will learn either customer behaviour and patterns or they will use it to automate the supply chain and production processes. Either way, embracing it will be imperative in creating a competitive advantage and delivering unique and tailor-made products.
Rise of the cyber attacks
Cyber-attacks have been on the rise in recent years and many companies have been influenced by them. We can not disregard that with technology being on the uprise, some will exploit innovations and new technology solutions. With digitalization taking a front seat, users and companies are even more exposed. As companies will turn to AI and machine learning, so will cyber attackers. In the phases of technology being introduced, cyber attackers or hackers will exploit unrecognized weaknesses and they will use AI in penetrating systems that will give them access to confidential information. This will call for the creation of stronger security solutions that will learn cyber attackers’ way of operating and predict their next steps. Considering that living in an online world is becoming the norm, companies, and users will have to work hard on not being exposed and vulnerable.
Recent log4j vulnerability exposure proved this to be right. Many companies and softwares were afflicted by this and presumably, it will take a long time to put things back on track. Staying one step ahead of potential threats will define how you react to issues like the log4j case. Cyber security will become an important part of any business venture and the defining point of consumer-centric operations since it’s their data that needs protecting. If the company loses credibility as a result of an attack, customers will lose trust in the product or services they used prior. Having instability in your company could affect future operations and strategic decisions will have to focus on the minimisation of risks and threats.
Tech talent shortages
In the last few years, mostly due to Covid, there was a big shift on the employment market. Many employees reverted their focus from professional to their personal life and they are on the lookout for jobs that will balance both. They want more freedom, more flexibility, and the opportunity to spend more quality time outside of work. Working from home introduced some opportunities where people managed to achieve a more balanced life, they could spend more time with their family and people around them while doing things they love, and companies that will be able to deliver such possibilities for a more flexible work-life will achieve an advantage on the market when searching for new employees.
Since digitalisation and automatisation of business processes became important in the world where exposure to the outside world was deemed risky at some point, there has been a rise in demand for IT workers in all of the sectors. They are now in a position where their negotiation power is bigger than the company’s and they will choose their place of work according to their needs and how the employer could deliver on them. There is high competition between companies that are trying to attract high-quality employees and they will have to step up their game in talent acquisition. It is expected that 2022 will continue with such trends and that they’ll get even more emphasised. Employee branding will come upfront in creating company imagery and recognition. Having a positive reputation will be just as important, if not more, than the perks being delivered to employees.
Increased role of data and predictive analytics
When we talk about digitalisation, then we can not disregard the amount of data generated and solutions that will have to organise, systemise, and present that data. We are living in an information age, and information has become a valuable resource and asset-based on which strategic decisions are made. With the rise of smart devices and smart solutions, the amount of data generated daily has exponentially grown and data management could be both a blessing and a curse. Data scientists and engineers will become high in demand for companies that live off of information utilisation in their products or services. Having a digital product also requires data processing to deliver value that will fulfill users’ needs and expectations. The business world has shifted majorly from old ways of conducting market research and they are more focused on real-time data provided by customers, clients, supply chain, or data from within the company. Having information at your disposal is crucial, and getting relevant insights from it is even more important. But getting information at the tip of your fingertips is just the beginning. With the usage of AI and machine learning, we can recognise behaviour and patterns and make predictions based on them. By learning users’ behaviour companies can now anticipate their future actions which provide a basis for strategic decision making, for improving products and services, and for minimising errors and delays in the supply chain or production.
Consumer experience focused solutions
We have entered the world of consumer-centric solutions where their experience and interaction with our products and services became the number one priority in achieving customer loyalty and consumption increase. By listening to customers’ needs, products and services have been developed to fit their standards and their wants. Competition is bigger than ever and customer attraction and retention are harder and harder to achieve. That’s the reason why solutions that are focused on consumer experience have been and will be important. Companies track consumer interaction with their product or service from their first introduction to it, to purchasing, usage, and integration in their everyday life.
If the point of business is only to sell its product or service, it will soon lose its advantage on the market and will face a decline in consumption since consumers search for an ongoing relationship that will benefit them while getting the support they want. Nowadays, consumers don’t only get the product and that’s it, it’s the experience of getting it and using it that matters. Even with products that are widely used for certain purposes, like groceries, or services that have a use date, companies are trying to enhance the experience and get some feedback from customers so they know that their decision to go with our company will be repeated. Implementing web, mobile or software solutions that will improve that experience is great for tracking and learning about customers and they also provide value both to the company and their clients.
Digital transformation is here to stay
Sudden changes in the world have forced companies and service providers to digitize processes that were previously paper-based. Certain tasks where you had to be physically there to accomplish them have now been digitized and no longer require a long string of paper trail. You can get almost anything online, whether it is ordering something, paying for something, or just getting information. Converting everything to the digital world changed the way people behave and they got used to accessing anything online instantly. Even inside the company itself, certain processes have been automated and the need for paper has decreased. Almost anything is operational via e-mails, business softwares, and other digital solutions. Not only does it reduce time to achieve certain actions, but it also diminishes space for errors, speeds up information flow, and allows anybody to access data anytime and anywhere.
Companies that went through digital transformation and embraced its advantages will certainly remain that way. Others that have stayed behind will have to adapt and change their way of conducting business and implement digitization of processes to remain competitive. Customers or clients demand the simplicity of getting products, services, and information and they are dictating how the market will behave. The other advantage of a digital revolution is the minimization of costs. Yes, it’s certainly an investment at the beginning when certain technology is introduced, but long-term benefits are worth it since it could lead to revenue increase, bigger customer loyalty, and a more positive company image. It is expected that more businesses will be conducted online and that even those that are service-centric will somehow relocate those services to be offered in an online world. For example, banking could go almost fully digital as we already witnessed it turning to mobile and web banking.
Sustainable technology solutions
If there is one big issue discussed almost daily, it’s the ecosystem of the world and climate change. There hasn’t been a time when there was such concern for the future of the planet and the effects we have on it. It’s an ongoing issue and consumers are becoming more ecologically aware and they specifically choose products and services that won’t negatively impact our planet. They almost have the same opinion on technology and its extent to influence the world around us. Corporate social responsibility is becoming an integral part of conducting business and it doesn’t seem that it will ever go away.
Sustainable solutions are defined as innovations that incentivise economic and social development while reducing their ecological and environmental influence. Basically, they include innovations that promote green energy and development that will not devastate the environment. Technology solutions that lower energy consumption, don’t require non-renewable resources, or those which minimize carbon footprint are leading the revolution in preserving the environment. Many companies have started to adopt in their business processes technologies that are responsible for lowering their impact. They are turning more and more to renewable sources and to lowering energy consumption or to use input from recycled materials. It’s all about showing that they care and their customers can mirror that social responsibility on themselves since they support sustainable products or services. Developing solutions that will better the world will have a long-term effect on everyone involved in the process, and we can expect more and more advances in that field.
Optimisation and digitalisation of the supply chain
What recent years brought us is the need for a quicker and more efficient supply chain. Online shopping and delivery have become an essential part of our lives. Getting products and services right at our doorstep is something not many are willing to part with. We also saw product shortages and companies have faced big backlogs in production. All of that caused scarcity and prompted people to hoard resources. Not many have been able to recover from that and they are still trying to catch up. Demand and supply trends have been affected tremendously and some companies had trouble answering to that. Optimisation and digitalisation of the supply chain have become a necessity. If these trends continue, having a speedier supply chain, with errors minimised, will have long-lasting effects on companies who need to avoid such threats from the market. Using software solutions is a way of achieving this.
Having information at the palm of your hand means you can move goods more quickly and efficiently. Optimising production processes means that products could get faster from production to the warehouse. Building a technologically advanced warehouse means that goods could be loaded faster and on time. And reducing paper trail in transportation means that goods could get quicker to the customer. Optimising the process from start to finish reduces costs, mistakes and increases profit and customer satisfaction. In this year we expect more companies turning over to digitalisation to keep up with sudden market changes and to create a more cohesive business strategy.
We expect all of these trends to take momentum this year. And how companies interact with those trends will determine if they’ll face stability or instability in their business processes. Even though we singled out some of the trends, we can not dispute that many others will have the same influence. Technology is rapidly changing and new solutions will take the lead in changing how we view the world around us. There is also a shift in the demographics and behaviour of consumers, clients, and even employees. The human factor has started playing a bigger role in our outlook on everyday situations. Adapting to all these changes can be overwhelming, especially if we are not quick to react. Everyone expects 2022 to be the turning point from the last two years and we are hoping that factors that influence our lives will become more positive. Changes are coming and it’s up to us to either be the change-makers or those who will have to adapt.