Gartner’s 2022 Top Technology Trends and Their Implications for IT Operations
2021 was a landmark year for all things tech.
We saw tremendous advances in commercial space travel, the popularization of electric vehicles, breakthroughs in display screens, and even rapid development of at-home COVID-19 test kits. Together, these advances undoubtedly enhanced the human condition.
But just as we saw great strides, 2021 also showed us a darker side of technology. For instance, you just can’t ignore the numerous, high-profile and well-publicized ransomware attacks that impacted thousands of companies.
As we jump into a new year, we can learn a great deal from looking back and taking stock of our wins and major upsets. We can especially learn a lot from industry peers. One of our favorites? Gartner.
IT industry predictions for the New Year
Every December, industry pundits and prognosticators issue their predictions for the new year and beyond (Automox released its own list of IT industry trends to look out for in 2022 here). Many technology leaders and enterprises look forward to these year-end predictions to see if their vision aligns with what the experts say about the near future.
In their recent roundup of predictions for the tech industry, Gartner listed 12 trends they believe will “act as force multipliers of digital business and innovation” over the next three to five years.
So, without further ado, join me as I review Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022 and highlight their projected impacts on IT operations teams.
Gartner’s top tech trends for 2022
1. Data fabric
In my previous life, I was a network engineer. When I came across the term “data fabric” on Gartner’s list, I was reminded of a phrase my engineer self referred to quite frequently: network fabric.
Cisco defines network fabric as a “mesh of connections between network devices such as access points, switches, and routers that transports data to its destination.”
So, what is data fabric? It involves the integration of data sources across platforms and business users, making data available everywhere it’s needed regardless of where it actually lives. Gartner claims that data fabric can reduce data management efforts by up to 70% by using artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics to learn and actively recommend where data should be used and changed.
2. Cybersecurity mesh
Our hybrid and distributed workforces are making effective cyber hygiene policies more vital than ever.
With so many endpoints now residing outside of typical security perimeters, cybersecurity mesh refers to a composable architecture that helps you scale — and integrate — your IT footprint faster. How does that work, exactly?
Cybersecurity mesh architecture uses a number of enterprise parts (like technologies, business capabilities, applications, etc.) to integrate widely distributed and disparate security services. The trend towards cybersecurity mesh is all about centralizing the orchestration and enforcement of policies to make security more responsive.
One way you can enhance your security posture is to leverage the power of automated custom scripts. At Automox, we call these scripts Worklets™ and they allow security and IT operations to create, automate, and enforce custom tasks across operating systems. Other examples of how they can be used include:
- Disabling a vulnerable process
- Managing native OS controls
- Mass rollback of patches
- Removing unwanted applications
Worklets can also facilitate other system configurations like helping you meet cybersecurity compliance benchmarks with automation. However you do it, cybersecurity mesh is a key component of good cyber hygiene.
3. Privacy-enhancing computation
Privacy-enhancing computation is all about securing the processing of personal data in untrusted environments. The trend is even more critical given the landscape of ever-increasing cyber-attacks and rapidly changing privacy and data protection laws.
In last year’s blog reviewing Gartner’s top technology trends, I listed three technologies that allow value to be extracted from data while still meeting compliance requirements:
- Encryption of data and algorithms before analytics or processing
- Performing analytics and processing in a decentralized fashion
- A trusted environment in which sensitive data can be analyzed and processed
The ability for organizations to confidently protect the devices and servers that store personal data is highly dependent upon managing system vulnerabilities. Effective patching and monitoring tools are necessary to ensure these systems stay up to date and correctly configured for limited access.
For more on the latest real-world trends, best practices, and recommendations about effective cyber hygiene, check out our Avert Cyber Attacks with Proactive Endpoint Hardening eBook.
4. Cloud-native platforms
Gartner defines cloud-native platforms as “technologies that allow you to build new application architectures that are resilient, elastic and agile — enabling you to respond to rapid digital change.”
In a recent blog, we defined cloud-native as “an on-demand, elastic, multi-tenant service, accessible anywhere from any device, and with usage that is measured and monitored.”
Our definition was adapted from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who identified five essential characteristics of cloud computing:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity
- Measured service
However you define it, cloud-native is the modern response to our new way of working. It provides freedom from old-school solutions. Freedom from required VPNs. Freedom from dedicated infrastructure. It gives us speed, efficiency, and productivity.
5. Composable applications
Gartner first identified composable applications as an emerging technology in their 2021 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.
Composable applications have components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements. According to Gartner, this makes it easier to use and reuse code, accelerating the time to market for new software solutions and releasing enterprise value.
Last year, Gartner predicted a similar growth of “intelligent composable business.” More specifically, they were referring to the ability of modern organizations to leverage data and information to quickly adapt to current situations and market forces. We will see the impact of composable applications and intelligent composable business in 2022, as organizations become more agile and responsive to ever-changing business environments.
6. Decision intelligence
An important IT concept in the modern enterprise, decision support is the ability to organize and analyze business data to facilitate quality decision-making for management, operations, and planning.
Decision intelligence is decision support on steroids. It models each decision as a set of processes, using intelligence and analytics to inform, learn from, and refine decisions. Ultimately, the goal is to automate human decision-making through augmented analytics, simulations, and AI.
Hyperautomation made Gartner’s list in both 2020 and 2021. We see it for a record third year for one very important reason: Automation improves efficiency that has a direct impact on every organization’s bottom line.
Hyperautomation is the concept that if something can be automated, it should be. It’s about streamlining business processes by ditching legacy models to support the inevitable move towards digital business, efficiency, and democratization. Hyperautomation enables scalability, remote operation, and business model disruption.
Automation has become a foundational requirement for IT operations. As systems become more complex and the amount of data stored and analyzed grows exponentially, they move beyond the management capabilities of IT operations teams.
While automation has traditionally been used to gain efficiencies, now it can help ITOps keep systems up to date and better protected from exposed vulnerabilities. This is vital for reducing risk and staying within compliance with regulations. Plus, it gives IT administrators the time to focus on more exciting, strategic work.
8. AI engineering
It might come as no surprise that the trends identified by Gartner will require effective use of AI. That said, Gartner’s reference to AI engineering indicates an all-encompassing strategy intended to drive scalability, enhance performance, and ensure the reliability of AI projects. Combined with strong AI governance, Gartner predicts that AI engineering will operationalize the delivery of AI to secure its ongoing business value.
AI engineering can help IT operations by diagnosing issues and handling support tickets through automation. In addition, it may be possible for AI to proactively fix problems by predicting when issues will arise.
9. Distributed enterprises
Gartner has identified distributed enterprise as a digital-first, remote-first business model that improves employee experiences, digitalizes consumer and partner touchpoints, and builds out product experiences. As far as I can tell, late 2021 is the first time Gartner published this trend.
According to Gartner, distributed enterprises “better serve the needs of remote employees and consumers, who are fueling demand for virtual services and hybrid workplaces.”
We definitely agree with Gartner on this one. In fact, a year before Gartner identified this trend, Automox announced its transition to a remote-first, fully distributed environment. The big challenge as companies make this transition will continue to be gaining and maintaining visibility into newly dispersed IT environments.
10. Total experience
Total experience is a business strategy that seeks to identify intersections of customer experience, employee experience, and user experience across multiple touchpoints. This helps organizations deploy the most impactful solutions to drive greater customer and employee confidence, satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.
Long before CX or UX in IT operations, Disney mastered providing the total experience. By integrating characters, amusement parks, films, and customer service and by bringing families together, Disney grew into a global brand.
Online retailer Bonobos branched out into physical storefronts known as Guideshops. These are not traditional retail storefronts with sales teams. Instead, Bonobos employs "guides" that deliver personalized shopping experiences. The next day, Bonobos delivers the shopper’s purchases to their home.
Bonobos' take on total experience combines the intimacy of a retail environment with personalized service and the efficiency of online logistics. More and more, businesses will look to evolve consumer interactions to be less transactional and more experiential.
11. Autonomic systems
A number of years ago, I was lucky enough to take a meeting with a senior project engineer at a major aerospace enterprise. He told me one of the major hurdles to sending a human mission to Mars was that systems and software require people to maintain them. Of course, this was just the type of support that wouldn’t be available in space. Systems would need to support themselves to accomplish interplanetary space flight.
This example demonstrates the need for autonomic systems: self-managed hardware and software systems that learn from their environments and modify behavior in complex ecosystems like outer space.
Autonomic systems are agile. They can support new requirements and situations. And they change their actions without human intervention.
12. Generative AI
In their 2021 Hype Cycle for AI, Gartner predicted that by 2025, “more than 30% of new drugs and materials will be systematically discovered using generative AI techniques.”
How does generative AI work, exactly? Well, AI algorithms can use existing content like text, audio files, images, or data to create new content similar to the original, yet not repeated.
Gartner says that generative AI has the potential to create new forms of content and accelerate R&D cycles in fields ranging from medicine to product creation.
What’s an example of generative AI? Online genealogy platform MyHeritage introduced their Deep Nostalgia service in 2021. The program automatically animates the faces in photos you upload to their service. Then, Deep Nostalgia produces what they claim is a “realistic depiction” of how the subject might have looked and moved had they, instead, been captured on video. It’s fascinating, if not also a bit creepy.
When to look for these trends: NOW
So, the big question as we look forward to 2022 is, “How long before we see widespread adoption of these trends?”
In the cases of composable applications, decision intelligence, and hyperautomation, adoption is well underway. On the flip side, we might have to hold our breath a little longer before we see other trends like total experience and generative AI enter the mainstream.
But don’t despair. According to the Harvard Business Review, the pace of technology adoption is speeding up. As they and you have probably noticed, the pace of tech adoption has dramatically increased over the past 100 years.
One thing we can predict with confidence is that these trends will help push innovation beyond the imaginable. So, let’s look forward to the creation of inventive new products and groundbreaking technologies for years to come.