Enterprise IT is going to get a lot more complicated in 2022.
According to IDC’s 2022 predictions for enterprise IT, the C-suite will become more involved in IT decisions, AI will become more deeply mired in messy human issues like ethics, and the risk of vendor lock-in will rise as companies grapple with cloud complexity.
Here are five highlights from the 10 predictions presented in a webcast by Rick Villars, IDC’s global VP of worldwide research.
1. As-a-service adoption
“By 2024, digital-first enterprises enable empathetic customer experiences and resilient operating models by shifting 70 per cent of all tech and services spending to as-a-service and outcomes-centric models.”
Based on IDC’s research data, 78 per cent of enterprises have moved towards a digital-first strategy specifically because of the pandemic. Villars said the adoption of as-a-service models will also shift the focus from aligning IT with business units to getting the C-suite more directly involved in IT matters.
“It’s (now) more critical for CIOs and their senior teams to establish continuous links with the C-suite that set the enterprise’s overall expectations,” Villars said.
Looking at some of IDC’s other predictions—involving complex matters such as data governance and AI ethics—it makes sense to have C-suite execs more hands-on in making decisions about such weighty issues that are far from cut-and-dry.
2. Cloud strategy reset
“By 2023, 40 per cent of G2000 organizations will reset cloud selection processes to focus on business outcomes vs. IT requirements, valuing access to providers’ portfolios from device to edge and from data to ecosystem.”
As the cloud ecosystem has become more complicated, concerns about security and governance have escalated among enterprises. These worries will force organizations to make some tough choices, Villars said.
“Managing, optimizing and securing diverse cloud resources and data sets will pose the most critical IT operational challenges for IT organizations,” he warned.
One way of simplifying the cloud environment while pursuing consistent standards for security, governance and integration is to partner with fewer vendors based on strategic long-term business goals, Villars said. Potential downsides of this cloud provider consolidation? Vendor and application lock-in.
“It does raise issues around technology lock-in versus the business value of getting access to new technologies,” Villars acknowledged.
3. AI for IT governance
“By 2023, 80 per cent of enterprises use AI-assisted, cloud-linked governance services to manage, optimize and secure dispersed resources/data, but 70 per cent don’t achieve full value due to IT skills mismatches.”
AI will be the answer to many enterprise prayers about how to manage complex, cloud-based governance solutions. The IT skills shortage, however, will likely undermine those hopes and aspirations.
As Villars pointed out, human expertise is still required to implement and oversee these AI-based systems in a secure and optimized fashion. Finding and retaining that type of talent during the ongoing skills shortage will be tough, he conceded.
4. Data science diversity
“By 2025, 50 per cent of the Global 2000 will increase data scientist diversity by 50 per cent to improve trust in customer engagements, driven by data privacy and trustworthy AI regulations across the globe.”
This prediction didn’t actually make it into IDC’s main top 10, but it is included in IDC’s offshoot list of Worldwide Customer and Consumer Predictions for 2022.
The idea that organizations will actively seek greater diversity when recruiting data talent might sound far-fetched, especially in an acute global talent shortage. Yet when IDC asked execs which government actions will likely influence technology investment the most in the coming years:
- 41 per cent answered “diversity and inclusiveness measures”
- 38 per cent said “fair use of AI regulations”
IBM, Walmart, Nike and Meta (Facebook’s newly christened parent company) are already talking publicly about AI bias. They were among the companies that recently announced the launch of the Data and Trust Alliance. The new group pledges to fight biases in AI recruiting technologies that could potentially discriminate against job candidates from diverse backgrounds.
5. In-person IT investment
“By 2023, 50 per cent of the G2000 shift half of their new technology hardware/connectivity spending to modernize and reconceptualize in-person experiences for customers and employees in their own locations.”
Like the previous prediction, this one didn’t end up on IDC’s main top 10 list of 2022 predictions, but Villars included it in his “honourable mentions.” With hybrid work rolling out everywhere, some employees will return to the office at least some of the time so companies will invest in technologies to make the in-person work environment safer as well as more productive.
According to IDC’s Future of Work predictions (yet another sub-list separate from its core IT projections), “by 2025, 90 per cent of new commercial constructions/renovations will deploy smart facility technology supporting flexible workplaces and sustainably improving occupant experiences and operational performance.”
Like hybrid work accommodating the return of employees to the office, the hybrid shopping trend (clicks-and-bricks buying, if you will) also means consumers are slowly returning to stores. This requires investments in technology to improve the customer experience in physical stores after nearly two years of focusing on ecommerce. NPD retail analyst Beth Goldstein expects this hybrid online/in-person consumer behaviour to continue next year.
“Consumers will return to some, but not all, of their pre-pandemic behaviors, and the extent or frequency of certain behaviors will vary. This new blending of behaviors will guide holiday season purchases, as well as consumer spending in 2022,” she writes in her own year-end predictions for NPD.
Enterprise IT 2022 predictions
So there you have it. A return to investment in IT for physical work spaces and in-person customer engagement. More C-suite involvement in IT decisions. More vendor and application lock-in (potentially) as a side effect of cloud consolidation. And more ethical entanglements surrounding AI as organizations embrace autonomous tech solutions.
Although 2020 and 2021 were two of the most unpredictable years ever, it’s a safe bet that in 2022, technology will continue to be the key element that keeps enterprises going.