Key technology trends for CIOs

By Doug Woolley, Managing Director, Dell Technologies South Africa

Johannesburg, 09 Feb 2022
Doug Woolley, GM of Dell Technologies South Africa.
Doug Woolley, GM of Dell Technologies South Africa.

As we settle into 2022, big shifts are expected with emerging technologies such as edge, 5G and data management broadening the technology ecosystem like never before. Data management will become a new class of workload, with edge becoming the new frontier and serving as the battleground. Additionally, we’ll see the acceleration of private mobility, with more of the cloud and IT industries supporting the path to 5G and shaping telecom’s future. Cyber security will also have a significant impact, as the industry will move from a discussion of emerging security concerns to a bias towards action.

2022 presents an opportunity for CIOs and IT leaders to benefit from the cautious optimism that is creeping back into the technology industry. As companies have finally adapted to the new business models put in place by the pandemic, now is a good time for CIOs to focus on further understanding the recent technologies that have proven to support business operations. The adoption of newer technologies will define how well a company is able to innovate, grow its products and services, and keep pace with the industry it operates within. It would therefore be beneficial for CIOs to invest in research and engage with their stakeholders to understand the technologies that will pave the path to organisational success.

Two technologies to prioritise are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), where we will see more use cases as digital economies grow. According to a report by PwC, AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030, with a boost of up to 26% in GDP for local economies. On the local front, the appropriate application of AI in business has the potential to double South Africa’s economy, adding up to a percentage point to the gross domestic product (GDP) rate by 2035.(1)

With accelerated adoption and innovation happening in the field of AI, we’re bound to see remarkable developments taking place in numerous industries. As AI becomes more interwoven with ML, it will have the potential to impact all aspects of our lives. Organisations that are not strategically adopting AI may risk being left behind, as increased AI adoption will disrupt markets and change business models, creating new and novel services for consumers.

With the widespread roll-out of 5G, we will also see further proliferation of IOT devices leading to increased automation of jobs and more access to data and analytics, all of which will allow CIOs to upskill their workforce to take on more complex tasks and make room for innovation. According to South African consultancy firm Africa Analysis, 5G subscribers in South Africa are expected to reach 11 million by 2025.(2)

Another technology that will be heavily sought after in 2022 is edge computing. With a multitude of IOT-enabled applications and their requirements for low latency, autonomy and security, it is becoming critical to get the compute function physically closer to where the data is being generated. The market sectors that will see considerable changes are the manufacturing, healthcare, retail, transportation and logistics, gaming and surveillance and monitoring industries. As these markets move towards AI and ML applications, they are generating tons of data through devices and sensors, thus real-time feedback and insights are becoming necessary. We’ll also see more use cases for the implementation of hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure, as workloads are increasing and organisations need to be able to meet their business needs.

Over the past two years, remote working and security concerns have been top of mind for CIOs. It is now clear that the hybrid work model is here to stay. When remote working was first introduced at the onset of the pandemic, CIOs had to swiftly restructure their workplace models through a mix of technology and workforce transformation.

While organisations have successfully shifted from the traditional workplace to a digital environment, CIOs continue to navigate security challenges as cyber threats become more sophisticated. With the increased adoption of cloud, organisations have also had to make sure that employees are wary of misconfiguration, unauthorised access and migration issues by having set cloud security strategies in place. Consequently, organisations are looking towards cyber security solutions that detect security threats faster, respond smarter and predict or even prevent threats altogether.

In addition to making their employees aware of increased security risks, CIOs need to look within and identify opportunities to upskill their current workforce through training programmes, certifications and mentorship programmes. At the same time, the talent shortage will encourage CIOs to get creative and look outside the traditional requirements for these jobs. This would be a step forward in encouraging diversity within the workforce while making room for innovation fuelled by a varied skillset.

From an overall perspective, the technologies that are rapidly changing how organisations must operate to succeed in the hybrid and digital era include cloud, AI, ML, edge and IOT, storage, data analytics, security and workforce transformation. It is therefore imperative that organisations understand how they can best leverage these technologies to keep pace with the fast pace of change and the digital future.