2022 Predictions: Technology sector outlook
After the growth and successes of the tech industry in 2021, James Klein, head of the technology sector at Shoosmiths shares his thoughts on emerging trends and a few areas where we may see developments in 2022.
Data continues to be a key strategic asset, whether it is in connection with data storage, transfer, protection, processing, security, or capacity issues. Predictive analysis of data is likely to be more pertinent than ever this year. Businesses will likely continue to look to connected data in the coming months (and years) to gain further competitive advantage. The democratisation of data, a key focus area in recent years and already well established in financial services with the likes of Open Banking, will remain a hot topic.
AI and automation
While there is much talk about AI and automation, adoption across many industries is still in its infancy. It remains high on the agenda for many organisations, particularly those who have had their supply chain tested in 2021. For organisations that have embraced AI and/or automation, we expect to see key growth in hyperautomation as organisations identify, assess and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.
Following the launch of the ‘National AI Strategy’ during London Tech Week in 2021 and the recent consultation on how the copyright and patent system should deal with AI, there will be further developments around the UK’s stance on governing and regulating AI. The government is due to publish a white paper in the first half of 2022, so this is an area to watch.
The UK has been investing in quantum computing for more than a decade, and with the prime minister Boris Johnson commenting in November that the UK would “go big” on quantum computing, further investment should be expected. Quantum computing which is used by tech giants like IBM and Google, is synonymous with new, advanced ways of machine learning and, given its wider potential use to enhance research and development and autonomous robots involved in manufacturing processes across industries such as pharmaceutical and automotive, it is no surprise the government wants the UK to be a world leader in this technology.
Technology continues to transform health solutions and delivery, with ever increasing use of connected technology facilitated by 5G. The pandemic has accelerated and established the benefits of a wide variety of digital health solutions, in particular those enabling remote patient services. There are proven opportunities for harnessing 5G, including smart devices and apps for a range of long-term conditions, to deliver improved patient compliance and outcomes. Alongside these are devices for remote health monitoring which can identify ‘at risk’ patients, and will have further benefits in a world of reduced face-to-face consultations.
Beyond the increased use of technology platforms in online consultations, we expect to see increasing use of 5G in connecting ‘super specialists’ based in different hospitals, including giving them remote access to live operations, especially in emergencies where no time for transit of the patient. Lives will no doubt be saved by the use of 5G in the ‘connected ambulance’ with real-time streaming of patient data to the awaiting emergency department, including sensor-related data, ETA updates, a ‘hub’ for emergency medical equipment and wearables, and video feed for the team awaiting arrival of patient and potential for specialist input in unusual cases or urgency.
The primary source of capital backing tech companies will come under increasing scrutiny given the importance of environmental, societal and governance (ESG) factors. Stakeholders are more likely to raise questions as to where funds originate from. When it comes to the type of capital being invested in tech companies, 2022 may see more alternatives with increasing numbers of ‘micro-VCs’ and ‘lone wolf’ investors looking to provide funds to invest in tech. In addition to the source of funds, investors and start-ups are more likely to be conscious of their team dynamics and future hiring plans to reflect that diversity and inclusion factors have been considered.
The future of work
The pandemic has provoked significant changes in the way we work and hybrid working is set to remain for many businesses and organisations. Faster networks, the proper integration of 5G (and 6G on the horizon), is more important than ever. New ways of working also presents a great opportunity for creative technology, from alternative workspaces/stations (as the demand for talent intensifies) to advancements in remote monitoring technology and systems and new uses for virtual reality and augmented reality. Imagine the merging of the physical and virtual worlds to create a “reality presence platform” where people can socialise and work – the Metaverse doesn’t seem too far away...
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