Shortly after the world was brought to its knees by the Great Recession of 2008, the modern IT communications market started taking shape fueled largely by one of the greatest expansions of technology the world had seen. Everything from cloud, the explosion of mobile, the commoditization of data center hardware, and the emergence of software-defined everything had accelerated the pace of business.
Flash forward to today, and there is another surge in innovation taking place.
The past two years have been as turbulent as I’ve experienced in my career. But as we all know, crisis is the mother of innovation. The pandemic significantly accelerated efforts by enterprises to digitize their operations to meet the “new normal” of indefinite hybrid/ flexible work arrangements. This new investment cycle, although fueled by the pandemic initially, will continue as new and emergent technologies begin to take hold in the market.
What are these emerging technology trends and the challenges and opportunities they represent? Below are the key takeaways I captured from my work with enterprise clients across most major industries. These are further corroborated by findings from Gartner’s recent 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap for Large Enterprises that predict how things might unfold over the next two years.
1. From AI and hyper automation to multi-cloud, SASE and edge computing, most major enterprises I work with are adopting new and emerging technologies to transform into crisis-proof organizations. According to Gartner, 58% of those surveyed plan to increase emerging technology investment in 2021, compared with 29% in 2020.
2. Based on conversations I’ve been having with customers and partners, the talent crunch is real and represents a major challenge to successful adoption of new technologies at their organizations. This is echoed by Gartner, which found that 64% of respondents felt talent availability was the largest obstacle to emerging technology adoption (2021), compared with just 4% in 2020.
3. It came as no surprise to me that when we first entered the pandemic in early 2020, the main motivation for our customers in deploying emerging technologies was the need for “increased speed and agility” (cited by 66% of respondents) to deal with the new reality of indefinite hybrid/ flexible work arrangements. Now, a majority of enterprises (64%) are looking to build “enhanced resilience” into their emerging technology deployments to help bulletproof against future disruptions.
4. Based on my interactions with customers, technology decisions are becoming more of a shared responsibility across the enterprise as more CIOs are working with other departments (HR, Procurement, etc.) to implement new technology delivery models that foster democratized delivery. According to Gartner, 82% of respondents, either agree or strongly agree that leaders outside of IT influence emerging technology adoption decisions.
5. Due largely to the pandemic, more and more organizations are creating cloud-based distributed platforms to enable an “anywhere operations” model for employees. While some organizations will return to the office this year, this distributed approach will continue to exist, especially since it has demonstrated so many key benefits, such as access to a wider pool of talent, increased productivity, and employee morale.
6. The biggest priority for enterprises I’m in regular contact with is the need to improve their security infrastructure. Applications and data have become increasingly distributed and mobile during the pandemic, challenging traditional security approaches. Emerging technologies like SASE and cybersecurity mesh can help safeguard this new distributed and mobile edge. According to Gartner, from 2020 to 2021, the number of security technologies in deployment rose sharply — from 15% to 84%.
7. Similar to how network technologies like SD-WAN and Intent Based Networking (IBN) were eagerly embraced by enterprises over the past 3-5 years, there is a lot of excitement among the organizations I speak to about what lies ahead with 5G, WI-FI 6 and the continued evolution of cloud-based networking. According to Gartner, investments in network technologies have seen continued growth, as 53% of respondents say they increased investments in network technologies in 2021.
8. I’m seeing more organizations deploy technologies like AI and machine learning platforms that enable intelligent data and analytics capabilities across the enterprise. This leads to better decision making and drives more efficiency throughout all levels of an organization.
9. I work with a lot of different companies across several different industries, and it’s unanimous, the buzz around edge technology is very real. As new technology costs come down and the promise of 5G is fully realized, I fully expect edge adoption to accelerate to a point where real-time applications like self-driving cars, smart cities and more become a reality.
It’s clear that we are learning to adapt to constant threats such as pandemics, climate change, cyber threats, and terrorism. And the key is innovation with emerging technologies that accelerate and drive long-term transformation no matter what challenges confront us.
This article was originally featured on Nasdaq.