To kick off 2022, we once again assembled our annual stellar panel of some of the UK’s best tech commentators to provide some clarity on what developments we’re likely to see over the next 12 months.
This year, we hosted:
The panel’s predictions ranged from tech regulation through to cryptocurrencies, sustainability, AI and the metaverse. So let’s delve into a bit more detail of some of their key thoughts…
For the second year in a row, we had to host the event virtually. It’s something we’re all used to now. But how will online working and meetings evolve?
Current platforms are relatively blunt tools that, while perfectly functional, just don’t offer an advanced an experience as technology can already allow. We’re likely to see a rise in digital office spaces that provide smarter ways of integrating people in a hybrid capacity, reducing the difference between remote and in-person experiences. There may also be a reduction or consolidation in the vast number of different options for video conferencing as workers grow weary of doing six consecutive calls on six separate platforms.
Driving this shift to virtual will be the physical – the hardware that can better support hybrid worlds. This was a core trend from CES 2022, with increasingly sophisticated products expected to come to market this year, from smart glasses and goggles to improved headsets, that will drive VR and AR experiences.
The current direction of travel is that aspects of our lives, both work and play, will soon exist in an augmented or virtual space.
The metaverse has already been widely hyped but in 2022 it will move from the gimmicky and theoretical, to a reality. Facebook of course announced a rebrand to Meta, while Samsung’s launch at CES took place in the metaverse.
What we will now see is an increased uptake of metaverse-based services and products, with Apple’s rumoured entry into the headset market likely to be the tipping point for widespread adoption.
Challenges remain – women in particular are too often subjected to unpleasant and hostile experiences that tech companies are still struggling to police, while there are questions over whether people really want to spend hours with a headset strapped on – but this could be the most significant new tech interface since the iPhone launched the smartphone era 15 years ago.
Curbing some of the customary gung-ho enthusiasm of the Big Tech players in their metaverse development are ongoing regulatory discussions.
The UK leads the way on this, with the Online Safety Bill expected to pass this year, and the Competition and Markets Authority scrutinising the sector over fears of monopolisation – which will limit M&A opportunities.
The government will also appoint someone to oversee the sector in the hope of providing some clarity on where the line is between harmful and illegal in online content – they will likely be the most important and consequential person for tech in the UK.
One area regulation continues to affect progress is in healthcare, where modernisation of services is at the mercy of concerns around sharing of sensitive personal data.
Cryptocurrency was one sector subject to increased regulation over the past year, which has led to it acquiring greater authenticity. This is only likely to grow in 2022.
As financial establishments have stopped resisting and decided it is more profitable to endorse the likes of bitcoin, crypto is now unlikely to disappear as a passing fad and instead will start to sit alongside traditional fiat currency with a more mainstream userbase.
Offsetting that acceptance is the non-fungible token (NFT) phenomenon, something no one saw coming this time last year. The market volatility, combined with a creeping realisation of the futility of owning a glorified hyperlink, means we expect to see the NFT bubble burst sooner rather than later.
First raised in Tech Trends 2020, there is a growing problem with the mislabelling of technology as “AI” when it is not an example of true artificial intelligence application. Investors have realised this and, faced with the challenge of deciphering what is and isn’t true AI, are erring on the side of scepticism, with valuations being affected accordingly.
So, expect the forward-thinking true AI practitioners to explore better terminology to help set their technology apart.
Related to this is the increased importance and value of data, not in its raw form but better organised. This is where the real value in the tech sector will soar this year, as companies that can clean up data and provide reliable and structured databases will be highly sought after by those looking to train their AI more effectively.
2021 was a year of reckoning for the tech sector on sustainability grounds, with the G7 summit and COP26 helping to drive change in individual and corporate attitudes, and these improvements will continue over the coming 12 months.
From SaaS-style carbon accounting models to help companies meet emissions pledges to a rise in consumer devices geared towards helping users be as environmentally friendly as possible, technology has a huge role to play in making the world a greener place.
Progress could be most apparent in the automotive sector, not only in the development of cleaner electric vehicles, but in new models of usage and ownership. Airbnb-style services will allow car owners to rent their vehicles to strangers – potentially disrupting the rental and sales markets – while on-demand usage could help reduce overall numbers of cars owned and on the roads.
Another exciting year ahead for anyone involved or interested in the tech sector, and we’ll look forward to seeing how these trends play out over the course of 2022.
We’re constantly working with our clients to navigate the impact of the trends that take shape, helping the brands that are transforming the world tell unforgettable stories. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can put our BETTER STORIES | BIGGER IMPACT approach to work for you, get in touch!
If you were unable to join this year’s Tech Trends and want to catch up, you can do so here.
Written by Tom Curran, Business & Technology