What will 2022 hold for us?

Johannesburg, 15 Dec 2021
Craig Holmes, Technology Executive, IBM Southern Africa
Craig Holmes, Technology Executive, IBM Southern Africa

What will 2022 hold for us? 

I'm sure you've heard the clever Danish proverb: "Prediction is difficult, especially when dealing with the future." Declaring what the future holds is a risky business. But the past two years gave us an informed perspective on how to look at tomorrow: It's not so much about what will happen, but how agile and resilient we are and must be for what comes next. In that view, 2021 gives us guidance about what we can do in 2022.

If one thing stands out for me about 2021, it's how the single vendor approach to cloud is over. As we enter 2022, the case for hybrid cloud has never been clearer. This is an approach IBM has advocated for early on as we aligned many of our technology imperatives on a hybrid cloud future. That future became clearer during 2021, created by companies ramping up their digital transformation journeys in the face of major change – partly in response to the pandemic's disruptions and how it exposed an uncertain world, but mainly owing to changes around customer expectations and sentiment and new platform business models.

The last great experience a customer has is the baseline experience going forward. Once you've had a great experience, you're not going to go back. This motto defines the world we operate in today. 2020 and 2021 created the impetus and opportunity to align to this new world, reaching a peak for implementation as hybrid cloud established itself.

Thus for 2022, I can make a few predictions that I wouldn't even call predictions but rather natural progressions of that alignment:

First, the cloud is here to stay. It may seem obvious now, but not so long ago, we all hotly debated the nature and impact of the cloud. That is all history now. Adoption rates have increased, and we can look at 2022 as the post cloud adoption year. Now, organisations are planning for the even longer-term future with cloud at the core as they digitalise their operations and prioritise innovation.

Second, security will become more prominent. Again, it's an obvious observation but one that only solidified recently. The growing threat of cyber crime is not news, yet more can be said about how good cyber security has become in response. Embedded security and concepts such as zero trust and the SASE Framework reveal a very maturing and proactive security market. Looking ahead, organisations must now prioritise security designed with one single objective – to mitigate existing complexities and future threats. Within the next 10 years they will be faced with new threats as quantum computing grows stronger and brings in new risks such as the ability to quickly break encryption algorithms. 2021 motivated customers to understand that security is crucial and central to their business enablement and, as they plan for 2022, security must be front and centre.

Third, the skills crisis is not slowing down. Everyone is aware that demand for digital skills far outstrips supply, yet that gap isn't closing. 2022 will demand action, and at IBM, we're already working on it. For example, we are increasing our focus on providing technical training, and globally we're committed to providing 30 million people of all ages with new skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow, by 2030. In South Africa, we have partnered with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) as part of this commitment as we bridge the digital divide for the South African youth and enhance digital literacy.

Finally, automation is now mainstream. Automation can impact all of my previous points, from cloud management to security to skills and its ability to transform organisations is unmatched. IBM offers programmatically improving automation, supplying solutions such as our Cloud Pack for Automation and making strategic acquisitions to bolster our artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

Those are the trends I foresee. But what does it mean for organisations? The simple answer: Hybrid cloud can no longer be ignored. This is the approach designed to take you successfully into the future so get that hybrid cloud strategy in place and documented, prioritising matters such as workload placement. But don't deploy tech for tech's sake. Keep in mind my opening point: We live in a customer-centric, experience-driven world. This new world started asserting itself in 2020, and in 2021, companies responded to it by locking down hybrid cloud investments. In 2022, cloud strategy and management, security, skills and automation will make or break those investments.

This is all good news. It shows that digital is living up to its promises. On behalf of IBM, I'd like to wish you a happy end to 2021 and an enthusiastic start to 2022. There is so much potential ahead of us and, when we focus on the right priorities, that potential will become a reality.

See also