January 17, 2022

In the past year or two, companies have either achieved digital transformation or are on the road towards it. Kate Smaje, a senior partner at McKinsey, says that the pandemic has sent organisations scrambling to find ways to be more adaptable and agile. But she thinks speed isn’t the solution. Instead, companies should invest “in the tech, data, processes, and people to enable speed through better decisions and faster course corrections based on what they learn.” To stay one step ahead, Ashley Kramer, chief product officer at Sisense, thinks that artificial intelligence together with automation combines relevant data, alerting knowledge workers to take action, in advance, before an event occurs. One thing’s for sure—change is imminent. Here are six digital trends to watch out for in 2022.

Bigger IT budget

Experts believe that there will be a surge in global IT spending, amounting to approximately US$4.5 trillion by the end of 2022. This marks an increase of 5.5 per cent from 2021. Since the pandemic, many businesses have become heavily reliant on technology, driving a surge in IT budgets. This digital transformation will see more companies creating their own in-house software instead of using a third-party. As tech needs become more specialised, there will be a need to develop tools from scratch to fit their requirements.

Getting Infrastructure Right

Businesses need to stay dynamic—apart from anticipating potential issues, there must be concrete actionable steps in place. Zayo Ginna, CIO, Raahauge, believes that all companies need to invest more in disaster recovery and crisis management. Gather all the stakeholders in your organisation to plan in rigorous detail. Apart from agility, Raahauge stresses the importance of having the right “infrastructure partners with diverse routes to ensure business continuity as you move to more cloud-based structures.” Beyond having solid technology solutions, be well-prepared if such solutions should fail too. Since ransomware attacks are getting more commonplace, companies need the right programmes like KnowBe4’s Ransomware Simulator “RanSim,” which helps to determine the efficacy of the current network protection by simulating infection scenarios. With sufficient preparation, organisations can detect and prevent an attack without compromising their data.

Data Will Be Crucial to Customer Experience

Covid-19 lockdowns have pushed businesses to look for better ways to reach and retain customers. Through social media and various digital marketing channels, businesses are able to connect to consumers, but many still crave the same physical experience they enjoyed before the pandemic. In order to meet and exceed customers’ expectations, businesses need to leverage on data to recreate a face-to-face experience and offer them services tailored to their needs. For instance, Zara has teamed up with Jetlore, an AI-powered consumer behaviour prediction platform and is working with Intel on devices to measure clothing volume in boxes.

Research has shown that high-performing organisations are three times more likely to agree that their data and analytics initiatives were pivotal to success. So consider using data analytics platforms like Tableau or Apache Spark. “The road to recovery is paved with data, powering quicker and better decisions,” Smaje says.

Just-in-Time Inventory System

In the wake of the pandemic, several industries have witnessed supply-chain disruptions, delays, inventory shortages and other logistic challenges. To address these issues, data analytics could be the key. A Just-in-Time (JIT) inventory system may be an ideal management strategy, allowing companies to receive goods quickly to fulfil customer’s demands. Apple is a great example of its ability to launch, manufacture, and ship millions of iPhones worldwide every year like clockwork with little remaining inventory. Additionally, Toyota uses JIT to ensure that they get their raw materials, only when the customer has placed an order, will the construction of the car begin.

Metaverse Will Take Centre Stage

The metaverse, a network of 3D virtual worlds (combining social media, online gaming and augmented reality) enables seamless virtual user interaction and grants users access to socialisation, shopping entertainment and even work opportunities. In the coming year, it will continue to offer users greater social connection, work productivity and behaviour modification—igniting an entire ecosystem for developers and consumers to create an overlap of our digital and physical lives. In fact, Roblox has plans to design a metaverse that caters to player’s needs by empowering its community with tools to facilitate a safe atmosphere. Companies like Immersed VR have already attracted sizable investments and have partnerships with Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung, while Apple has announced that it will be launching AR glasses, and even Nike is preparing to sell virtual sneakers.

NFTs Will Continue to Thrive

NFTs were all the rage last year with celebrities like Grimes, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton all jumping aboard to create their own digital stamp of ownership. Last April, the Hilton heiress, (who’s admittedly obsessed with NFTs) sold two out of three of her NFT works (in collaboration with crypto artist Blake Kathryn) for US$220,000 and got herself two new pets named “Crypto Hilton” and “Ether Reum.” She is a firm advocate of NFTs, lauding the democratisation of art. In 2022, the trend is definitely here to stay, with Gary Vaynerchuk launching the world’s first member’s only private dining club where membership is purchased on the blockchain as an NFT and owned by the token-holder to gain access to the restaurant.