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When it comes to technology it’s important for business continuity managers to consider what’s on the horizon and plan accordingly. With that in mind, Continuity Central spoke to nine tech experts to discuss what they think will be the biggest technological developments in the workplace over the next year.

Data management will be key

Over the last few years, the amount of data companies collect and hold has grown exponentially. Mark Jow, EMEA Vice President - Sales Engineering, Commvault, expects technology that manages and protects this data to be a huge growth area in 2022.

“With data growing at a compound annual rate of 23 percent and employees working remotely across various locations, many organizations have experienced data sprawl,” he explains. “This has driven the adoption of different technologies, such as cloud capabilities and as-a-service offerings, to manage data and keep businesses in operation. Simultaneously, many have turned to hyperscalers, such as AWS and Google, who have huge capacities waiting to be consumed. 

“As the adoption of such technologies continues to grow in 2022, it will become more of a priority for businesses to know where their data is, how it is used, that it is protected properly, and crucially, how to recover it quickly.”

Rich Pugh, Chief Data Scientist, Mango Solutions, an Ascent company, believes that companies who have invested in data will see that pay off in 2022. “Organizations that have championed data science practises - despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic - will perform better than those who chose to furlough their data and analytics teams. 2022 is likely to be the year of the ‘reckoning’ where  some companies will pay the price for holding back on innovation.”

Simon Spring, Operations Director, EMEA, WhereScape, agrees that data management will be crucial. “Of all the uncertainties that surround us right now, one thing we know for sure is that data intelligence is the future, and companies will need to rely more heavily on tools and technologies for data-driven decisions and insights than previously.

“The management of data has changed dramatically, with increasing numbers of enterprises migrating to the cloud, and leveraging technology such as data automation to augment everyday operations and business processes.”

Spring also points out the importance of keeping compliant with data regulation. “As we look ahead to 2022, data governance will become the focal point of many conversations. Increasingly, we are seeing a disconnect between those in an organization who are responsible for ensuring data compliance guidelines are met, and those that want to more freely use that data to drive business decisions. For this reason, transforming data governance programmes will be important in 2022. A key enabler will be data fabric - an architecture that allows people and tools to work together to form a well governed data supply chain for analytics.”

Jeff Sizemore, Chief Governance Officer, Egnyte, emphasises the importance of data compliance. “We can expect to see a steep rise in US state-by-state data privacy requirements and movement toward a potential federal privacy law in 2022. In fact, by 2023, it’s expected that 65 percent of the world’s population will be covered by privacy laws,” he says.

“Protecting unstructured data will likely be one of the biggest challenges in the new year. If you can’t see it, you can’t govern it. If you can’t govern it, you definitely can’t manage privacy. However, organizations need to have visibility into structured and unstructured data to build out an effective data governance program, and there are data security and governance tools available to protect that information across the board. We also expect to see ongoing privacy assessments becoming more common. Organizations need to put privacy at the forefront and make sure they are solving the problem holistically in the new year and well beyond.” 

Digital transformations will continue

Over the past few years we’ve seen companies undergo significant digital transformations, accelerated by the move to remote working. 2022 is likely to see businesses adapt to even more new technology.

"B2B integration and collaboration will accelerate its digital transformation built on the backs of APIs and the cloud: Because cloud-native and API-first approaches have matured to an ‘open everything’ architecture, the time and cost to innovation through partnerships and collaboration has significantly decreased,” says Vince Padua, Chief Technology and Innovation Office, Axway. “Furthermore, as the enterprise surface area is API-centric, more innovation is unlocked by unbundling and re-bundling offerings and supply chains across industries and verticals.”

Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru, also stresses the growing importance of digital services. “The service expectation is the same now for both public and private sector organizations: it is no longer good enough to say ‘we’re a local council, not Amazon’. COVID has been a big accelerant of customer expectation, as all age groups have been driven towards digital experiences. Digital is no longer just a young people’s thing: the latest surveys show the age groups 65-79 and 80+ are the ones with the strongest preference for digital-first engagement.”

Jamie Cairns, SVP Channel & Alliances, Fluent Commerce, expects technological innovation to impact the retail industry too. “Many retailers have switched their ecommerce approach this year to ‘headless commerce’, which essentially separates the front end presentation layer (website, app, kiosk, social etc.), the ‘head’ from the back end services, enabling them to personalise the experience on the front end, whilst benefiting from the economies of scale on the back end. This trend towards ‘headless commerce’ will only continue into 2022, as retailers look for flexibility to adapt to future changes, making market adoption easier and benefits better understood.”

Hybrid working tools will continue to grow and improve

Unsurprisingly, the workplace has changed drastically over the past two years. Steve Cochran, CTO, ConnectWise, foresees further advancement in the hybrid workspace next year. “Tools that allow us to better engage in the new hybrid working model will become more prevalent,” he explains. “Solutions will be developed that will allow us to work in a more meaningful way during this new era. Tools that let us set up conferences, arrange food deliveries, and show who is in and out of the office will take centre-stage now that the majority of companies have introduced hybrid working models.”

Workplace training technology will evolve

With the digital skills gap remaining a problem for most businesses, Don Mowbray, EMEA Lead, Technology & Development at Skillsoft expects many businesses to “significantly step up IT skills training in 2022.

“Business leaders will need to identify where these skills are needed most – from foundational skills in data literacy to more advanced skillsets that will help articulate the importance of AI at a business level – and put concrete development plans in place to upskill their existing teams.”

This sentiment is echoed by Ian Rawlings, RVP EMEA, SumTotal, who concludes: “To build the high-performing workforce of the future and demonstrate to employees that their development and advancement matters, in 2022, we expect many organizations will go ‘all in’ when it comes to enabling more predictive and personalised learning journeys that motivate and encourage professional development and improve employee engagement.

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