Over the last two years, the business landscape has dramatically changed in more ways than just the obvious, semi-permanent move to hybrid working environments. While remote work has taken center stage as the most prominent, dramatic shift in how businesses operate in 2022, it has spurred other changes that have caused organizations to rethink their systems. From the infrastructure businesses rely on to the way they hire to the programs they onboard, specific trends are here to stay. And no trends have evolved faster than those in technology. Read on to learn the three biggest trends for businesses in 2022 as they consider upgrading their technology systems.
Trend 1: Automation
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses will continue to examine their operations for areas in which they can introduce automation. From enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to robotic process automation (RPA) to software as a service (SaaS), options for businesses to remove manual tasks from employees continue to grow in popularity. And this trend isn’t going anywhere. According to Zapier’s State of Business Automation report for 2021, nine out of 10 knowledge workers say that automation has improved people’s lives in the workplace and 65 percent of knowledge workers are less stressed at work because manual tasks are automated.
The benefits of automation extend to businesses of all sizes, too. The same report notes that 88 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) say automation allows their companies to compete with larger companies.
One of the most significant benefits of automation in business is not that it replaces employees with technology; it’s that it allows for the strategic redistribution of those employees to higher-value work. You don’t need to lay anyone off by introducing automation. Instead, you’ll direct them toward work that is better suited to their human skills, such as intuition, judgment, and nuanced decision-making. For example, salespeople are skilled at forging relationships. Automating their administrative tasks such as filling out paperwork or doing email follow-ups frees them to explore more prospects and do what they do best.
Software solutions on the market today abound with automation capabilities. Document management software, for one, delivers benefits across an entire organization. By eliminating the need for employees to physically search for paper documents in filing cabinets and drawers, the software saves massive labor hours. You’ll also be able to securely store documents in a digital repository — making search and retrieval easy and simplifying file tracking for audit purposes. Security is built-in with version tracking and permissions set to allow only the right parties to access certain documents. Automating your document management processes also helps your business stay compliant as you eliminate the risk of manual errors throughout workflows.
Trend 2: The Cloud
Moving to the cloud goes hand-in-hand with the concept of automation. Many benefits of cloud computing mirror and complement the benefits of automation: reducing operating costs, lowering labor hours, cutting manual tasks, speeding up workflows, and more.
And businesses of all sizes have embraced this trend over the last couple of years as remote work forced them to make rapid, sweeping moves to the cloud. Cloud growth is only set to continue soaring; Gartner predicts that global spending on cloud services will increase from $131 billion in 2020 to over $482 billion in 2022.
While the move to cloud computing is a broad trend businesses should consider when upgrading their systems in 2022, it’s easier to understand how you would by breaking it down. Cloud computing is made up of many components — all essentially requiring you to outsource the hosting of your infrastructure, apps, and services to cloud providers. For example, in an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model, your cloud provider hosts your infrastructure in their highly secure data center. You run your business as you always have, but the management and monitoring of your network are now done by 24/7 experts you pay on a subscription basis. SaaS products are also forms of cloud computing where you access tools and services through a cloud provider instead of purchasing hardware to install on your premises.
In years past, cloud computing’s progress was a bit hampered by security concerns. As it emerged, the cloud was rife with security gaps and loopholes for savvy hackers. But over the last several years, cloud providers have made huge investments in shoring up the security of their products and services. Cloud-based tools are now as secure — and even more secure in some cases — than their on-premise counterparts.
Trend 3: Prioritizing Security
The move to advanced cybersecurity tools is a trend businesses upgrading their systems cannot afford to ignore. Cyber threats continue to grow in sophistication, virulence, and volume, and no company is safe, no matter how small. As mentioned above, cloud computing solutions have worked on baking in robust security measures, so moving to the cloud is a solid option. But there are dozens of other evolving security technologies businesses should be aware of to ensure their 2022 systems can prevent malicious breaches.
Managed security is one method businesses are considering to avoid the cost of hiring a team of expensive, in-house security experts. Opting for managed security means you hand off the security needs of your business to a trusted third party — often one with expertise in security technologies. Similar to a cloud computing model, you pay the managed security provider as you use them, and you can scale provisions up or down as you see fit.
Virtual CIOs are also a growingly popular subset of security options. While you can use a virtual CIO to run any aspect of your IT, they often specialize in advanced security and can offer leadership to your team in that regard. Virtual CIOs typically cost a fraction of what you’d pay to hire an in-house CIO — especially one with cybersecurity experience and knowledge.
These three trends are paving the way for businesses large and small to scale their operations with agility and flexibility and stay protected while doing so. This upcoming year will spark more innovation out of the technology world to help businesses weather the next storm, but for now, the benefits of automation, cloud, and cybersecurity tools will do the trick.