Here we are, with one week left of 2021. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe that 2021 is nearly over, when it feels like it only just began. Even though it’s been a weird year, it was also a busy one. Global M&A topped $4.4 trillion (as of Q3) and venture funding globally hit a new quarterly high of $160 billion in Q3. In short, there is a lot of investment and a lot of consolidation happening.
The last two years have admittedly made me wary of making any predictions. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you can’t really know the future. But I can take stock of the thousands of minute ways our lives have changed since early 2020 and leverage that understanding to project — with at least a reasonable (or unreasonable) degree of confidence — what comes next.
Democratization of tools and technologies
The last two years have brought a shortage of talent in the tech industry. With an increased amount of investment flowing into early startups and an increase in hiring by larger enterprises as they try to scale their digitization efforts, plus the “Great Resignation,” the battle for tech talent is more intense than ever.
This talent shortage is driving an increase in the skills gap in organizations around the world. As we look to 2022 and beyond, I predict we will see more products that address that gap. Products that democratize access to technology, either through a low code/no code approach or a greatly simplified user experience, will see an increase in adoption in organizations large and small. If tools are less complex, the door opens for more talent, and companies can continue on their path to leveraging technology in more effective ways.
The future is hybrid
When companies sent their employees home to work remotely in early 2020, we all thought it would be short-lived — a few months max. Nearly two years later, employees are still working remotely. Some offices have opened up in a limited capacity, but many have delayed reopening to 2022. Looking ahead to next year, we will hopefully see more offices reopen, but hybrid work will be here to stay. Offices are reimagining what the shared space looks like as more and more companies are reevaluating what it means to bring people together.
Hybrid also applies to application workloads. More and more organizations are running applications on-prem as well as in one, or more, public clouds. For most organizations, hybrid cloud is the preferred strategy for their technology estate. As we move into 2022, we will see more products and technologies that address the gap between on-prem and cloud-based workloads and services. These products will bring more visibility and automation across the entire hybrid estate.
Security, security, security
Security continues to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind thanks to the rise in ransomware attacks, data breaches, and ongoing vulnerabilities. This year has been a big year for all three. (I don’t know about the rest of you, but the Log4j vulnerability has been the gift that keeps on giving this month.)
Security is very important, but it’s also the hardest to get right. I predict that we will see a rise in products that automate security, taking the guesswork out of applying security best practices and using security tools and technologies that are intelligent, responsive, and most importantly, highly automated. I also think these tools will actually be on the simpler end of security products addressing the aforementioned skills gap — in this case, the difficulty in finding talent with deep security expertise.
Finally, no prediction piece is complete without mentioning Web3. Web3 obviously started gaining a lot of buzz this year. But I predict it will only accelerate in 2022. When I think about Web3 I envision the next version of the internet, with more open standards and better connectivity for more distributed systems. I will admit to not being the first to jump on the blockchain bandwagon, but I do think there is a lot of potential in this technology; we just need to unlock it. I, for one, am excited about what the future holds.
There’s no going back to pre-pandemic practices. The workforce has been permanently altered, and the way we approach everything — from security to compliance to distributed systems to cloud — has rapidly transformed in the last two years. I can say with certainty that more change is inevitable. But if any industry is ahead of the curve when it comes to adaptability, it’s the tech industry. I know we will be innovating at the edge for years to come.
Please stay safe, happy, and healthy this holiday season. Happy New Year!