Hear What Our Experts Predict Will Be The Next Big Trends In Tech
2020 and 2021 brought seismic shifts to the IT world. What will 2022 bring?
Here’s what our experts have to say about the year ahead:
Chris Thompson – Consultancy Services Director
Effective Automation, Minus the Hype
Over the last 12-18 months and into 2022, we are seeing an increasing maturity in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) implementations which take a more pragmatic and measured approach to business process automation, cutting out a lot of the RPA ‘hype’ of recent years which has led to countless and costly failures, unrealistic expectations and lost confidence.
By learning from past mistakes and a wider recognition in the business process automation community that you need to be able to walk before you can run, organisations are starting to see very effective and robust RPA implementations which have clear cost, efficiency and consistency benefits.
Such successes are being driven by better planning and business analysis up front, more appropriate development environments and processes, and integration with wider technologies to support sensible levels of machine learning-based cognitive automation beyond structured and rules based processes
The concept of no-code and low-code RPA platforms being driven entirely by non-technical ‘citizen developers’ is also moving into the age of a sensible hybrid with traditional development skills which are required to deliver anything beyond the simplest processes. This, in turn, ensures much-needed partnerships between business and technology areas, essential to RPA success.
Ash Gawthorp – Academy Services Director
I don’t anticipate anything brand new revolutionising the tech world in 2022 but there are some trends from 2021 and even 2020 that I think will continue their acceptance and influence.
The Continued Tech Talent Squeeze
In 2022 we’re still going to see far greater demand for people with tech skills and an ever-diminishing pool of people able to do the work. Some sectors demand these skills because COVID has made them bring their plans forward and accelerate them to survive (retail being one of the biggest examples). While many companies showed great resiliency over the last two years, it should not be underestimated that the speed they were forced to work at may have resulted in corners being cut. The people already in these organisations were well and truly tested just trying to get things out the door – in order to make these new systems sustainable, organisations will have to grow their teams.
More Automation Tools
Automation has been part of testing and DevOps for years, and RPA continues to grow, but what interests me is the growth of AI-assisted tools and how they continue to push up the technology complexity food chain. Just as RPA opens up opportunities for back office members of a company to automate repetitive tasks and focus on more creative and strategic projects, I’m excited to see how much of a developer’s skillset can be aided by automation, AI and Machine Learning so they can spend more time on creative elements.
Simon Cockayne – Public Sector Development Manager
The Emergence of the ‘Hybrid Officer’
More local authorities will address the pressing need to support growth in their areas by ensuring the right skills are delivered for the right roles. This demands investment to support delivery – a greater pooling of talent and resources not only within the public sector but also as a local commonwealth of digital talent shared in their developing SME community.
In 2022, look for the public sector to strengthen its in-house skills and breed a new generation of ‘hybrid officers’ who can navigate not only their professional requirements but also understand their place in a broader digital world. This will ensure deeper and more effective transformation of core public services.
Peter Russell – Head of Technical Training
Increasing Focus on Security
Security is one factor pushing changes lower in the tech stack. Ten years ago, it was common for software to be updated rarely if ever, and many bug fixes would wait for the next release. Now there is much concern about the ‘threat environment’ that we are living in, and the industry recognises that a lot of bugs are security bugs.
There’s a serious drive towards not having so many security vulnerabilities in the first place. It’s fascinating to read blogs like Google’s Project Zero, which reports the findings of Google’s security researchers finding bugs in products. Security researchers are often focused on “system software” like operating systems, or widely used low-level libraries for things like networking and encryption. This is partly because bugs found in this code are likely to represent critical security vulnerabilities, but it’s also proven relatively easy to find bugs in system software! One recurring theme is memory safety.
Healthy Competition Between C++ and Rust
So, what is being done to make systems software more secure and bug-free? One trend is the growing adoption of the Rust programming language. It is roughly pitching itself as a competitor to C++, which is to say that it offers predictable performance, compiles directly to the instructions that your CPU executes, and has the facilities for abstraction needed in large programs, while still allowing a lot of control over the finer details of memory layout and how it interfaces with other parts of the system.
These factors would make it suitable for implementing web browsers, programming language runtimes, operating system kernels, or embedded systems (C, rather than C++, is dominant in these last two). But what Rust has, but C and C++ do not, is the facilities to guarantee memory safety.
Pragmatic programmers won’t be willing to throw away large existing C or C++ codebases and rewrite from scratch in Rust, but a lot of people seem excited by Rust, and not just for its safety features. I think we’ll continue to hear more about its adoption in the coming year, perhaps with significant Rust code being released in Linux, Windows or Android for the first time (it’s already used in Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla initiated the development of the language). C++ is far from being a dead language, though, so we will probably see increasing (and hopefully friendly) competition between the camps. The C++ committee has been considering adding stronger memory safety guarantees in future, so perhaps we will see further progress on that.
James Story – Content Marketing Manager
Career Reinventors Will Turn to Tech
If 2021 was the year of the Great Resignation, 2022 will be the year of the Great Reinvention.
Across the UK and the world at large, workers used 2021 to reassess their priorities. This massive shift was brought about by many of the pandemic’s effects, chiefly companies being forced to adopt remote working where possible. Some news outlets have labelled the fallout a ‘mass exodus’ but there are two sides to this event: those who have quit or changed their jobs, and those who intend to.
I believe the biggest agents of the Great Resignation were mid-career workers changing companies and career ambitions as they look to ‘course correct’ themselves towards greater satisfaction. What we should expect in 2022 is what I call the ‘Great Reinvention’ – millions of hospitality and retail workers who, after enduring the holiday season shift work they were spared last year, will start their career over in new industries.
Technology is certainly ready for such an event – skills shortages made tech one of the biggest hit industries during the Great Resignation and talent came at a premium. 2022 could be the year that the next generation of talent swaps making coffee for writing code.