Technology trends likely to dominate SA in 2022

Rein in radical expectations and analyse conditions unique to SA before planning for tech trends that will invigorate the medium-sized business space in 2022.
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The world of technology evolves at a lightning-fast pace and its potential for improving our lives and businesses is exciting. However, before getting too swept up with radical expectations, it is prudent to analyse conditions unique to our country, and then plan and prepare for trends likely to dominate the medium-sized business space in South Africa in 2022.

Globally, we are likely to see advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, the internet of things, quantum computing, 5G rollouts and the blockchain, especially in non-fungible tokens. While outliers and leaders on our shores will no doubt make moves in one or more of these frontier technologies, these won’t dominate our local business environment.

Electricity constraints will likely dominate the local news for quite some time − Eskom is under immense pressure and all eyes will be on embedded power generation and renewable energy investments, not to mention emergency backup supply. The threat of rolling blackouts continues to put a dampener on our growth and business investment prospects.

The supply chain constraints that started with the onset of the pandemic will likely continue well into 2022. Interpol recently released the top five cyber threats in Africa, and ransomware, specifically, will continue to be a major threat to South African organisations.

Recent petrol price increases and producer price inflation pressures mean that businesses will have to contend with inflationary pressures and an unstable exchange rate. The cost of IT resources will continue to rise, as a skills shortage compounded by emigration means this situation will not resolve itself any time soon.

While that’s the bad news, there is good news. Businesses will continue to recover from the worst of the pandemic, and while the vaccination rollout is slower than it should be, as it proceeds more elements of our lives and businesses will return to some semblance of normality.

Cloud infrastructure investment on our shores will continue, which is good news for business transformation. This investment will likely be driven by the hyperscalers and local vendors. 5G rollout will continue in a controlled and steady fashion, albeit meaning large parts of the country will still have patchy coverage throughout 2022.

Cloud infrastructure investment on our shores will continue, which is good news for business transformation.

As many businesses have reduced overhead costs, and as they solidify their digital transformation roadmaps, hybrid working is likely to form a major part of our new normal − which has a host of cost-saving benefits if security is up to par, including the ability to hire resources without being hamstrung by geographical distances.

Against the backdrop of what’s happening globally and looking at South Africa’s business environment, it is possible to predict which trends are likely to dominate on these shores in 2022.

Businesses will entrench long-term remote and hybrid working policies

This provides businesses with a good opportunity to reduce office overheads to anywhere from 25% to 75% of peak occupancy. It will see the hot desk concept and collaboration spaces take centre stage. On-demand rental workspaces could well become a viable option for many businesses.

As businesses settle into this new way of doing business, there will be a lower tolerance of load-shedding, home interruptions during meetings and more − in other words, remote working will be expected to be professionalised.

This means we are likely to see an increase in fibre-to-the-home installations, LTE and 5G adoptions. Uninterrupted power supply systems will become essential, and businesses will likely continue to invest in VOIP mobile client capabilities to improve staff collaboration and contactability.

Adjustments to deal with supply chain constraints

The semiconductor shortage threatens to hamper growth, and any further unforeseen incidents − such as the Suez Canal blockage − would worsen the situation. This means many businesses will be running on older devices for longer than planned, increasing IT support costs.

Cloud-based strategies are more resilient to these supply chain constraints, and short- to medium-term hardware rental services may assist in bridging long delivery cycles of assets such as laptops.

Cyber security will be a priority

Cyber crime is not subsiding any time soon. Rather, the prevalence and severity of attacks are expected to increase. This means that most businesses will make cyber security a key focus in 2022 as they have nowhere to hide from the criminal cyber gangs.

Personal information protection will be treated as paramount, and businesses will need to take data protection very seriously.

In light of these developments, we will see even more demand for cyber security skills. IT budgets will need to be adjusted accordingly. As a result of this massive demand, cyber security service offerings will become mainstream and more specialist service providers will surface.

Renewed focus on digital transformation

As customers start recovering from the economic crisis, businesses will refocus their efforts on digitising their operations and leveraging cloud services to take advantage of automation and e-commerce opportunities.

Cloud migration will continue

Businesses that adopt or accelerate their cloud strategies will be positioned to take advantage of the latest technology trends quicker than their slower counterparts.

Leading businesses will continue to leverage hyperscaler cloud and local cloud vendor relationships as they accelerate their digitisation strategies. We will also see an increased shift towards hybrid cloud architectures. Software-as-a-service vendors will fit into this strategy and offer vertically integrated solutions.

Increased uptake of unified communications platforms

Remote and hybrid working will continue to be the fuel driving investment in intelligent and integrated unified communications platforms, and we will see C-suites allocate more budget towards collaborative technologies.

Corporate collaboration tools will be embedded as key IT platforms within businesses and many will embrace integration into physical audio-visual meeting rooms to enable remote workers to seamlessly dial in effectively to the office or team meetings.

Businesses will invest in voice breakout from collaboration tools to facilitate click-to-dial functionality, as well as to track and record customer interactions. While these investments do not come cheap, cost savings on bundled voice offerings across these channels will likely help fund the technology rollout.

The year of SD-WAN

SD-WAN solutions will increase in popularity to support long-term remote working strategies without compromising on security or requiring significant infrastructure investment or high opex commitments. Some of the benefits of SD-WAN investments include lower costs, easier operational management, built-in security, increased agility to accommodate a changing geographical footprint and cloud-ready infrastructure.

Businesses will turn to outsourced IT services

The rapid digitisation and related skill and software investments mean many businesses just won’t have the time or resources required to deal with the added complexity. As a result, they will contract outsourced IT service providers to bolster their IT teams.

Here, they will be able to take advantage of IT audits, support on cloud strategies, pen tests to find cyber security weaknesses in their organisation, and desktop support, among a host of other functions.

Tim Wood

Executive head, information systems and technology, Vox.

Tim Wood is executive head of information systems and technology at Vox.

He is responsible for delivering and deploying information technology services within the Vox business, and the integration and development of information systems supporting internal operations. 

The role involves integrating requirements, systems and processes into the broader ecosystem and deploying solutions that are effective and efficient, from supporting the sales and operational teams, to the provisioning of services into upstream platforms. 

Wood is also responsible for the Vox IT team that provides the foundation over which systems are provisioned within the organisation − essentially, the internal technology deployment. 

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