Most people are about done with the exclamations about how unprecedented and challenging the last couple of years have been. How often does it need to be repeated, right? For us, it is much more interesting to look forward, and oh boy, has the IT landscape changed, with most of those changes being for the better. While it probably won’t last forever, the mountain is out on the IT horizon.

There are challenges, of course, and they will be eternally familiar – IT budget constraints, struggles with forward planning when IT resources must focus on the here and now, the ever-present (and increasing) cybersecurity threat, etc.

However, the experience of the past couple of years also presents massive opportunities to digitally transform operations and drive business value – the business value that you know can be delivered through modernized IT infrastructure, enhanced workflow automation, and the right IT support.

So, in a spirit of looking ahead, here are the IT trends that we think are going to dominate 2022 and beyond.

1. Adoption of Cloud Computing Environments

Cloud computing technologies are not new by any stretch of the imagination, but they have developed to a point where they are now an essential solution, particularly for forward-thinking, growth-focused companies. Traditional on-premise architectures don’t offer the same agility, scalability, flexibility, or enterprise-level services of a cloud environment.

Furthermore, Cloud computing environments are constantly updated and improved.

The customizable nature of cloud solutions is another factor driving adoption with businesses of all types and sizes and in all industries. One-size-fits-all solutions never work in practice, but today’s cloud computing platforms are flexible enough to include private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds, multi-clouds, and edge computing, all within a single architecture.

In other words, it is now possible to get the best of all worlds — the control and security of a private cloud, for example, as well as the real-time, minimal latency benefits of edge computing, along with the scalability and cost savings that come from public and multi-cloud solutions.

2. Increased Security Needs Will Still Dominate

For the past 11 years, international financial services provider Allianz has published its Risk Barometer. It is a report based on survey responses from more than 2,500 risk management experts from all over the world. In the Allianz Risk Barometer 2022, the top business risk facing companies is cybersecurity, ahead of business interruption, natural catastrophes, and the pandemic. In total, 44 percent of respondents to the survey cited cybersecurity as one of their biggest concerns.

Ransomware is one of the main threats, but there are multiple risks in the cybersecurity space. This includes those we are familiar with, such as data breaches and phishing attacks. However, there are also emerging threats, such as double extortion attacks, where hackers encrypt systems and release confidential company data at the same time.

For those with direct IT responsibilities, cybersecurity has always been a top priority. However, the attacks of recent years have led to an increased awareness of cybersecurity in other parts of the c-suite and company management structure, not least because many recent attacks have made their way onto mainstream news bulletins.

It’s that age-old and super-motivational concept of “…if it could happen to them, it could happen to us.”

Pressures from another direction are also sharpening the focus on cybersecurity – cyber insurance. Insurance is a risk-based industry, so it is not surprising that insurance companies are seeking to minimize the risks they face when underwriting cyber insurance policies. For businesses purchasing these policies, they will need to come up to the minimum required standard on cybersecurity or face being left without coverage.

For all these reasons, we expect cybersecurity to be a key priority in 2022, with companies of all sizes seeking best-in-class security products and solutions.

3. Increased Focus on End-User Adoption of Collaboration Tools

WFH is an abbreviation that has entered into common use over the past couple of years. With this working from home phenomenon, also came an explosion in the use of collaboration tools as companies and their workers endeavored to stay connected and productive while working apart.

As a result, there has been a big shift to platforms like Microsoft 365 and other Microsoft collaboration tools, including Microsoft Teams, as well as to Google, and other platforms that offer similar capabilities.

For the vast majority of users and companies, however, the adoption of these collaboration tools is only scratching the surface of what is possible. This is understandable as the initial objective was simply to keep the show on the road.

Looking ahead, we expect an increased focus on end-user engagement with the goal of deriving maximum value from the collaboration tools that are already in use (and that, in many cases, have already been licensed).

4. Continued Remote Workforce

One of the biggest jolts that companies faced during the pandemic was the overnight switch to remote working for most, if not all, employees. IT leaders in these companies stepped up to the plate in a way that is often underappreciated, delivering effective technical solutions that addressed a challenge never before seen on this scale.

At the time, however, many companies viewed this as a temporary arrangement – just to get through a month, maybe two, of the pandemic before everyone could get back to the working-in-the-office norm. The reality is turning out to be quite different.

There are many reasons for this, including lasting pandemic workplace restrictions, strong productivity when working from home, and a desire from workers for more flexible working arrangements. From an IT perspective, there is now a new challenge – evolving these initial temporary arrangements into long-term solutions that fit in with the overall IT and business strategy, as well as being secure and cost-effective.

5. The Total Experience (TX) Evolution

Terms like customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) are commonly used, but there will also be an increasing focus in 2022 and beyond on total experience (TX). It is a business strategy that includes CX and UX as well as employee experience (EX). In other words, optimizing the experience for everyone in every interaction with the company.

IT teams will play an important role in this TX evolution, but why use the word “evolution”? For many companies, the development of TX will be a natural process, rather than a defined business strategy, where improvements made in, for example, IT infrastructure will, by extension, improve TX.

An example is automation. It is an IT trend that might have made it onto this list, but it is also interesting to look at one of the outcomes of automation – improved TX. When manual workflows and tasks are automated, employees can be re-focused to more value-adding, rewarding, and enjoyable tasks – tasks where the employee feels they are making a real contribution instead of simply going through the motions of a task they have done many times before.

As you can see in the above example, it describes a technology trend but also a TX trend. In fact, it is arguable the TX element is the part that will drive the transformational change that is required in modern, growth-focused businesses.

Let’s Not Forget Digital Transformation

Finally, it is worth mentioning digital transformation, as it is the overarching trend that encompasses all the points on this list, as well as the IT trends that didn’t make the top positions.

For digital transformation strategies to be a success, everything from cybersecurity to cloud computing to automation and collaboration must be embraced.

Your business needs expert support, too, and that’s where we come in at StepUP IT. Let’s connect today to discuss how we can help you maximize the opportunities and minimize the risks in IT throughout 2022.