Top 10 Digital Transformation Trends For 2022

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The digital transformation that many companies underwent in 2020 continued in 2021 at a rapid pace as the pandemic continued to impact the world. While many of my digital Top transformation trends predictions from a year ago were proven correct, others didn’t quite come to fruition and were displaced for more urgent and strategic needs as the pandemic persisted. What does this mean for 2022? Will we continue to see headlines about customer experience and data or will other technologies come to the forefront of the conversation? Only time will tell, but here are my top 10 digital transformation predictions for 2022. 

5G Everywhere 

Last year I predicted that 5G would finally go mainstream in 2021. While 5G deployments in the sub-6GHz bands have remained on track globally, more complex 5G millimeter wave deployments have significant growth potential. Early deployments of 5G had some carriers putting prioritization on low band 5G frequencies, which are about twice as fast as LTE, but often feel only marginally faster than LTE networks, and this has led to some observers and consumers feeling less than satisfied with the impressive 5G speeds we had been promised. 

This trend is already changing, and we will see it happen even faster in 2022. I anticipate an acceleration of 5G millimeter wave deployments in urban and densely populated environments, alongside continued roll outs of low-band 5G expansions into rural markets. As an example, currently AT&T 5G mmWave network is only available in 38 cities. Other carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon have been more aggressive expanding their mmWave coverage. What I can say is that the superior experience will drive consumers to adopt networks and devices that support it. Carriers around the world are also following suit deploying mmWave, especially throughout large parts of Asia. The Beijing Winter Olympics will be a massive test for 5G mmWave this winter with many supported devices and networks being stood up just to make sure the best connectivity is available. However, some companies, even notably innovative ones are being slow to completely buy in to mmWave. Apple, for instance, adopted it in the U.S. for its iPhones but made a decision to not support mmWave for iPhone 13 devices outside of the U.S. I believe this was a foolish bet, whereas most other big device makers like Samsung are putting mmWave in all of their flagship devices. 

From a 5G innovation and development standpoint, companies like Qualcomm, Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia are a few of the leaders pushing the development of 5G and 5G mmWave forward with network infrastructure developments and chips that will enable the next generation 5G mmWave devices. Why does the difference in network frequency matter? In short, mmWave greatly increases network efficiency and capacity, while delivering faster speeds and low latency, and therefore I firmly believe that mmWave will be the future of 5G.   

Semiconductors Eat the World

In 2020, the pandemic fueled a boom that saw a tech explosion driving growth to cloud, SaaS, collaboration, devices, and basically any technology that enabled commerce, communication, and productivity. This trend created unprecedented demand and therefore 2021 became the year of the chip shortage. This shortage has caused sizable delays in production times of everything from cars to cell phones. But semiconductors are responding with large investments to ensure this problem never happens again. Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Samsung, and TSMC have all announced multi-billion-dollar investments to build new fabrication plants around the global to improve production times. We likely won’t feel the direct impact of those investments until the end of next year or even 2023, but it’s critical to note the size of these investments and the role they will play in our developing infrastructure for decades to come.  

In the short term, I believe the issues will continue to impact the supply chain, with lagging processes being the hardest hit, but the advancements in silicon will take computing, analytics, devices, and auto technology—among other market segments—to new heights in terms of applications, experiences, and designs. For instance, in just the last month alone, OEMs in partnership with semiconductor companies like Qualcomm, Intel, and NVIDIA have announced major advancements in automotive chip technology that will continue to push the software-defined vehicle forward. I’ll dive more into that trend and the impact it will have on other areas a little later, but the main takeaway here is chips don’t operate in a silo. They impact every aspect of our lives whether we realize it or not and I don’t see that changing in 2022. 

In a recent op-ed that I published on MarketWatch I closely examined the growth trajectory of the semiconductor space and based upon the unparalleled demand, growing revenues, and improved cash flows, the next year looks like a big year for large chipmakers like NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm, as well as your small to midsize chipmakers and rising stars such as Marvell Technologies and Lattice Semiconductor. I’m also keeping an eye on growing specialty chipmaking from hyperscalers like AWS, and expect to hear more from their counterparts at Azure, and Google to step up homegrown chipmaking efforts. Lastly, I think some of the startups focusing on AI Acceleration like Groq and GraphCore will start to be heard from more as AI’s momentum will be unshakable in the coming year.

Post Pandemic Future of Work Mega Shift

I predicted last year that remote work would continue beyond the pandemic and that is absolutely happening. We’ve seen headlines all summer of major companies in nearly every industry offering permanent flexible working arrangements. But these arrangements aren’t without their own set of challenges. With some employees working from the office and others still working from home, organizations are going to need technologies that seamlessly enable collaboration regardless of location. According to a recent report, only 8% of conference rooms around the globe are equipped to handle video conferencing. The good news? Collaboration companies are taking note. 

September was a huge month of announcements from Zoom, Poly, Cisco, Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce. We can expect to see software and hardware tools that will improve meeting equity and enable a level of unmatched collaboration. Intelligent cameras and collaboration systems equipped with AI will make it easier to identify which speaker is talking. Companion modes will offer a unified device experience for all participants. 

Hybrid work advancements will happen outside of the conference room too with cloud PC offerings, improved VDI experiences and more tools that will make it easier to work from anywhere.

The work shift is also leading to a change in how we interact and function with our software to enable us to be more productive. This is leading the tech industry to build new operating systems for work where instead of living in our inbox, ERP, CRM or productivity tools, we are employing platforms enterprise wide where the epicenter is collaboration. Salesforce made this clear in its Slack acquisition with Marc Benioff affectionately calling the platform a “Digital Headquarters.” Microsoft Teams has built an extensible full-stack that engages its entire software and infrastructure ecosystem to bring work into a single pane of glass in most instances. For smaller businesses, Zoho has built its operating system for work on its Zoho One platform. I expect more and more for ubiquitous software stacks to drive how we work and these examples are evidence of this trend. 

Environmental Social Governance Will Make More Headlines

From climate issues to social good, organizations in every industry prioritized environmental social governance (ESG) throughout 2021 and it will likely amp up over the next decade. We’ve already seen…

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