How will the tech sector change in 2022?

This year has been a blockbuster one for the UK tech sector – with records levels of investment, IPO activity and fundraises – but as 2021 comes to a close, Business Leader has spoken to some industry experts about what they expect to happen in 2022.

Dominic Forrest, Chief Technical Officer at iProov, shares his predictions for what he thinks will happen in the tech space.

Enterprise workers meet biometrics – whether WFH, in the office or on the move

Two years on from the world’s mass migration to home working during the pandemic, there will be a huge need in 2022 for more unified remote-work authentication solutions as the hybrid-working world matures. Greater home and flexible working have resulted in a reliance on BYOD that has put core enterprise security at risk. In 2022, we can expect to see more device-agnostic biometric authentication solutions deployed that can enable employees, contractors and suppliers to work more easily and securely across multiple devices. This frees workers and employers from the vulnerabilities and complexity of password management, while simplifying login to enterprise applications across environments.

The sharing economy continues to build trust through identity verification

Peer-to-peer services – also known as the ‘sharing economy’ – where platforms like Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo connect workers with members of the public, are looking for ways to build trust and reassurance with users and staff. In 2022, we expect to see the wider roll out of ID verification with an unsharable credential within this economy to help users of these services feel more comfortable, confident and ensure the authenticity of interactions. Inclusivity will be key here and solutions that monitor and mitigate for bias will take centre stage.

Digital transformation in 2022

Anaplan helps businesses not just digitise their planning, but also connect it from one department to another. Anaplan operates across a whole host of industries from CPG to manufacturing, and has solutions for supply chain, HR and finance. Their senior leadership team shared their thoughts on the 12 months ahead.

Prediction: Soft skills will be critical for leadership in 2022 

Spokesperson: Chris Baker, Managing Director, EMEA

In evaluating company leaders, soft skills have often been side lined or considered secondary, but as we enter the third year of the pandemic, they will take centre stage in the war for talent. Transparency, trust, inclusivity, and collaboration will be critical to establish and maintain a strong company culture in an environment where workers may not be able to meet or interact with their colleagues, managers, or company leaders in person.

Employees are rightly checking their own core values against those of their employer, and will increasingly make culture the number one decision criteria when deciding where to take their careers. Leaders must live and breathe their culture and ensure that culture aligns with the wants and needs of their employees, not just their bottom line. The onus will be on leaders and people managers to ensure that employees feel heard, they are fulfilled and given the tools and encouragement to bring their best selves to work every day.

Prediction: UK businesses will move from knee-jerk digital change to true transformation

Spokesperson: Chris Baker, Managing Director, EMEA

Early on in the pandemic, a lot of companies put significant transformation projects on hold, and many still haven’t picked those projects back up. Pandemic-driven IT investments largely focused on the digital sprints; programmes that could be quickly set up to enable remote working, for instance, or vanity projects that drove surface level change at best. However, as we’ve seen over the past two years, business success requires being able to innovate quickly, bring new ideas to the market ahead of your competition, and navigate volatility with little disruption whilst maintaining employee productivity.

IT spending is predicted to grow to 9% this year, but for most companies, even that won’t be enough to compete or retain top talent. Short term digital programmes are not enough to plug this gap and larger transformation projects need to be re-evaluated and re-prioritised so that businesses can compete strategically, perform efficiently, and be resilient for the future. This means transitioning from a defensive approach (digital band-aids) to an offensive one with full blown transformation projects aimed at long-term performance and growth.”

Prediction: Cloud adoption will fuel global businesses 

Spokesperson: Ana Pinczuk, Chief Development Officer

As businesses work to become more resilient and competitive in 2022, they must evaluate their ability to accommodate local demands and conditions, like availability of talent or goods, with global dependencies, like supply chain constraints, so they can meet the needs of customers, no matter where they live.

The cloud will spearhead this transition and help businesses gain a deeper understanding of company and customer needs and behaviours across geographies, while still accounting for local nuance and data residency requirements. From there, businesses can leverage new data sets and sources in the cloud to drive strategic decisions that support a more ‘glocal’ organization. Plus, with more capacity and a secure global infrastructure that is flexible by nature UK-based businesses with a global presence can leverage the cloud to simplify operations and seamlessly connect their data, people, and processes with market and customer insights around the world.

Cloud adoption is critical for businesses that want to scale to new markets both locally and globally, appeal to a global customer base, or operate with agility despite having a dispersed workforce. Moving operations to the likes of AWS and Google Cloud will become a requirement for business success in 2022 and the benefits of this cloud adoption will be truly realised through the enablement of global resilience.

Will tech investment continue to rise?

UK businesses’ appetite for tech investment is growing, research from Studio Graphene has revealed.

The London-based digital agency commissioned an independent survey of 752 senior decision-makers within UK businesses. It found that the majority of businesses (58%) said they expect their IT spend to grow in the coming 12 months.

However, small businesses are set to be more modest with their spending plans than their more established counterparts – 48% of businesses with less than 50 employees said they would invest more heavily in tech in 2022, compared to 77% of businesses with headcounts over 250.

One in two (49%) decision-makers said their business intends to invest in a new area of technology that it has not used before, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data or cloud computing.

Studio Graphene’s research showed that enthusiasm for experimenting with new technologies is also growing, with two in five (42%) respondents saying their organisation’s risk appetite has increased significantly over the past 12 months. At 64%, large businesses were much more likely to hold this view than small firms (28%).

Elsewhere, steps are being taken to promote a culture of innovation. Just shy of half (47%) of business leaders said their company introduced new practices over the past 12 months to encourage employees to share and implement ideas in a hybrid setting.

Day-to-day IT issues, however, are standing in the way of progress: 42% of all businesses said that the amount of time and resource they spend on fixing basic tech issues is impeding real innovation.

Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene, said: “After a period of stagnation, where businesses focussed their efforts on ironing out teething issues relating to remote and hybrid working, it’s fantastic to see renewed enthusiasm for tech investment.

“Companies are clearly moving away from the mantra ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Instead, they are looking to explore how modern technologies can improve operations and better satisfy both employees and customers. Investing in previously unexplored solutions always carries risk, but it’s worth it if these products can elevate a business’ productivity, create new revenue streams, or better serve customers.

“Our research indicates that 2022 is going to be an exciting year for innovation. As businesses get more comfortable with technology that makes remote working possible, they can truly start transforming their business through more ambitious investments in quality solutions.”

Loss of accurate social media advertising data, thanks to iOS updates, had biggest effect on MarTech industry this year

A study was undertaken by the team behind global affiliate platform Awin, in which 250 senior marketers and business owners from medium or large MarTech companies were asked for their opinions on 2021 so far.

Overall, 81% of those asked said that they had been affected by iOS14 or the above updates around the tracking of their social media advertising campaigns over the last year. The “opt-out” privacy feature installed in the iOS14 update reduced advertisers’ ability to personalise and re-target their social campaigns.

One of the most prominent recent talking points was the effect of the iOS15 update on the industry, despite only launching just over a month ago in September 2021. 73% of the senior marketers involved in the study agreed they had noticed mail open rates ‘severely inflated’ thanks to the update. The update allows users to turn on ‘protect mail activity’, whereby Apple will automatically load images and CSS, making it appear as if the email has been opened.

Over half (55%) of the marketers who had noticed an inflation in mail open rates claimed that they have abandoned the measuring metric altogether in favour of ‘click-through rates’ and ‘conversions’. 28% of senior marketers also claimed they had switched to a subscription model off the back of the software release, stating that customer retention was the ‘only way’ to get the information they required.

As well as the effects that developments have had on the industry so far in 2021, senior marketers were also asked their thoughts on what 2022 might have to offer.

Some of the most common trends that were highlighted were found to be:

Immersive VR65% of senior marketers predicted this as a trend for 2022

There are already a few apps that let consumers see how an item may look in their house, for example, or apps that allow users to scan the internet for deals on their favourite pair of shoes using just one photo.

Chatbots will be able to handle more complex matters: 22% of senior marketers predicted this as a trend for 2022

It’s likely that by next year, users could see chatbots trusted with payments, become entirely voice driven and improve on emotional intelligence, to name just a few suggestions from senior marketers.

Chatbots may be able to analyse the pattern of every interaction in order to keep customers engaged and improve response capabilities.

Increasing demand for Marketing Architect roles: 15% of senior marketers predicted this as a trend for 2022

Although slow to gain acceptance among some firms, the number of Marketing Architect roles are set to rise with the demand from companies increasing in an attempt to steer the way in some of the above trends for example.

Speaking on the findings, Kevin Edwards, Global Client Strategy Director at Awin, commented the following: “2022 will be the year when marketers have to decide what measurement metrics are important to them. With third-party cookies on the way out and the tech giants making it increasingly difficult to measure campaign success, MarTech businesses who can offer data light and privacy-centric solutions will find themselves increasingly in favour.

“Introducing immersive VR and increasing chatbot intelligence will require huge investments from companies if they’re looking to get ahead of the trend. However, they are a clear signal of how brands are increasingly focusing on customer experience above all else”.

Sam Higgins, Chief Marketing Officer at Prezzybox also commented on the effects the iOS changes have had on the business: “Analysing the paid social platform, we can see that the iOS changes have had a negative impact on the conversions being tracked in the Facebook advertising platform.

“Looking at data from 14th September – 25th October 2021 and comparing this to the same date range in 2019 (2020 is different due to lockdown), we are seeing a 75% drop in website purchases being recorded in the platform whilst budget remained the same.

“Obviously, this has resulted in a huge increase in the cost / website purchase, making us re-analyse our paid social strategy. Moving forwards, we are tracking paid social within Google Analytics as this gives us a much more accurate representation of how paid social campaigns are performing.”

2022: Innovations in the Tech Sector

Jeffrey Whitford, head of sustainability and social business innovation at Merck shares his thoughts on what to expect next year.

Increasingly, we’re seeing extreme weather events creating severe difficulties for millions of people. The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) report on the State of the Global Climate 2020, found increased greenhouse gas concentrations, increased land and ocean temperatures, sea-level rise and an increase in melting ice and glacier retreat. All of these key climate indicators provided in the report highlight continuing climate change—emphasizing the need for companies to take action to make their operations more sustainable.

As we head into the new year, business leaders should expect to see a rise in decarbonization initiatives, such as virtual purchase power agreements (VPPA), and climate tech innovation tools that support quantitative analysis in the sciences.

Sustainable practices—such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lowering resource and water consumption, and improving waste management practices—can help a company address its environmental impact. However, targeting renewable energy in the form of a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) can significantly reduce a company’s carbon footprint across the value chain—enabling and supporting the renewable energy industry for a greener future. VPPAs are a concerted effort to bring new renewable energy sources to the grid with long-term contracts instead of relying solely on pre-constructed assets to supply a company with renewable energy.

While VPPAs have been around for many years, they have increased in popularity—especially as aggregated deals become more widely available and of interest to developers. A few years ago, these agreements were only accessible to massive energy consumers, such as technology giants. Now, aggregated deals allow companies with small- and mid-size electricity loads to engage in a VPPA, and unlock new ways to support and advance the renewable energy industry.

When done correctly—and following thorough research—companies engaging in a VPPA can look forward to more sustainable operations by reducing their carbon footprint, all while supporting the renewable energy industry for years to come.

Additionally, the development of software and digital platforms supporting quantitative analysis in the sciences is expected to grow in 2022. Collecting and analyzing data on a wide range of sustainability-related factors—including energy and resource use, greenhouse gas emissions and supply chain performance—can help companies become more sustainable, efficient and productive by indicating where a business should focus its efforts. For example, Merck’s DOZNtool evaluates the relative greenness of chemicals and chemical processes against the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. It leverages data to help customers make informed decisions to reduce their environmental footprint, increase chemical efficiency and promote sustainability. With this web-based tool, scientists can make data-driven decisions and carry out meaningful research while positively contributing to their own environmental impact goals.

As a life science company, we see it as our responsibility to provide scientists with products and services that drive reductions to the footprint of scientific research and manufacturing and, in doing so, transforming sustainability for the industry.