You might think it foolhardy to make predictions about something that changes as furiously fast as emerging technology. Driven by massive investments, competing for a market that appears limitless, thousands of companies innovate constantly, sometimes at cross purposes.

Yet we are human, after all, so we can’t resist peering into the unknowable future and proclaiming, “Yes, this is what’s ahead.” Plus it’s that time of year: in January we are (we hope) imbued with a fresh energy that allows us to accurately assess the year ahead.

Not that all annual predictions are mere guesses. Clearly, the tech forecasters below are top practitioners who are close to their respective sectors. They’re the experts who have long labored in cloud, AI, security, edge, data analytics, digital transformation, accruing years of deep market experience. If anyone can foresee the future, it’s these seasoned thought leaders.

So here you go – a compendium of insightful forecasts across the major IT sectors. We hope you enjoy perusing the predictions; at the least, they’re great food for thought. And please revisit the pages of eWeek as the year unfolds – we’ll be tracking tech as it happens, offering a real time record of how these forecasts turn out. All best to you, and have a great 2022!

Cloud Computing

Revenge of the Rushed Cloud Migration

“The pressure of the business imperative to adopt cloud at rapid speed during the pandemic will begin to unravel as it becomes apparent that security slipped through the cracks in rushed migration. As a result, we will witness the rise of huge breaches due to simple cloud security misconfigurations and permissions errors. This will fuel the mushrooming of startups based on automation of cloud configuration, permission analysis and remediation platforms.”

Archie Agarwal, Founder and CEO, ThreatModeler

Major Growth in Hybrid and Multi-Cloud

Expect to see dramatic growth in hybrid and multi-clouds in the new year. Hybrid and multi-cloud solutions allow the business to choose the best fit for their workload without compromising the fidelity to their service management and integrations. Efficient and effective enterprises will want to lean into this natural affinity to get the most value, resulting in multiple cloud environments.”

John Annand, Director of the Infrastructure Team, Info-Tech Research Group

Hybrid Cloud Conversation Driven by Public Cloud Vendors 

“For the last few years, hybrid cloud was championed by technology vendors who sold on-premises technologies, but now public cloud vendors are offering cloud-like experiences on premises. This is not a good or bad thing, but as companies decide how they will approach their hybrid cloud strategy they need to consider how much control they want to maintain. By handing their private cloud to a public cloud vendor, companies may lose some control and ability to customize, but they will gain a unified, consistent private cloud experience. Companies need to decide what will be best for their business, but overall the conversation has shifted with public cloud vendors taking the wheel.”

Jesse Stockall, Chief Architect, Cloud Management, Snow Software

Service Mesh Will Solidify its Role as a Critical Component of the Cloud Native Stack

“In 2022, service mesh adoption will continue to cross the chasm from early adopters to majority adoption within the cloud native ecosystem. There will be a widespread realization that “just throw it on Kubernetes” is not enough for a functioning cloud native application, and that the addition of a service mesh solves fundamental concerns about security, observability, and reliability. In 2022, the service mesh will become the norm, not the exception, for Kubernetes applications.”

William Morgan, CEO, Buoyant

Database Migrations and Cloud

“Database migrations will become central to any cloud strategy. Databases are the foundations of every IT architecture, and data access as well as processing capabilities make for a critical competitive advantage. Migrations will probably be the single most important IT project of 2022 — and beyond.”

Mike Waas, founder and CEO, Datometry

Also see: Top Cloud Companies and Service Providers 


Infrastructure: New Roads to Theft and Destruction

“Cyberattacks have generally sought either disruption or extortion, but soon both state and non-state actors will more frequently target physical infrastructure like electrical grids, dams, or transportation networks. Hackers may target funds disbursed by Congress that are intended to rebuild U.S. infrastructure.”

Michael Bruemmer, Vice President of Data Breach Resolution and Consumer Protection, Experian

The Biggest Barrier to Cloud Migration will be Security Misconceptions

“With large-scale cyberattacks on the minds of C-suites across the globe, the biggest hurdle to adoption in 2022 will be to rectify any misconceptions of the public cloud surrounding safety and security. The pandemic has taught us that cloud-based infrastructure is an important factor in moving to a remote workforce, due to this we will continue to see more companies make the switch. However, opinions that public cloud may not be as secure as existing infrastructure will slow the adoption process. CSPs will need to work to combat these misconceptions and ensure that potential customers understand the cloud is safe, effective and is an essential component of digital transformation.”

John Schmottlach, Senior Vice President of Delivery, Apps Associates

A Holistic Approach to DevSecOps

“2022 is the year we’ll take a holistic, process-based approach to implementing security into DevOps. We’ve been doing the same DevSecOps dance for the last five years, and while there has been some cultural transformation, organizations keep adding to the DevSecOps hairball that results from too many tools and no real process. The adoption of cloud and hybrid environments at the onset of the pandemic introduced efficiency and the ability to answer questions quickly, but security is still a lacking part of the conversation and is a necessity to reduce overall business risk. In the coming year, we’ll see organizations focus more on finding a process-based way to continue increasing this efficiency and pull real-time insights from the DevSecOps hairball in a way that truly benefits the business.”

Brittany Greenfield, Co-Founder, Wabbi

IP Theft Will Increase 

“While external cybersecurity attacks are always a real threat for businesses, often it’s the employees themselves inadvertently or purposefully leaking sensitive data at their company through collaboration tools like Slack and Teams. In fact, confidential information sharing on average takes place in 1 in 135 private messages and 1 in 118 public messages. Over the next few years, employers must take steps to monitor this type of internal data sharing to protect all parties involved.”

Jeff Schumann, Co-Founder and CEO, Aware

The Privacy Paradox in a Hyper-Personalized World 

“In 2022 and beyond, companies will be challenged to strike a balance between the countervailing pressures of hyper-personalization and privacy within the context of regionally-evolving regulations and customer expectations. This will signal a fundamental shift in product development, with guardrails built in by design from the very beginning, and flexibly evolving throughout the product life cycle. And accountability for responsible AI and data stewardship practices will be ingrained in a company’s culture, at all levels in the organization. While grappling with the “privacy paradox” will be no easy feat, the industry is fast at work with enabling technologies. For example, we anticipate breakthroughs in consent management platforms as they continue to keep pace with evolving global privacy laws.”

Atticus Tysen, CISO, Intuit

Deception Technology will Experience Rapid Mid-Market Growth

“Cyber-attacks are steadily becoming the biggest threat to businesses of all sizes. While larger companies more commonly have the resources to implement in-depth security measures, mid and small-size companies remain ill-equipped to defend against advanced attack techniques, forcing them to decide where and what to protect. As a result, in 2022, many of these companies will turn to deception technology as an efficient, cost-effective method to respond to internal and external threats. A high signal-to-noise alert ratio and innovations in machine learning will make managing decoys and concealment attractive for under-resourced businesses. Additionally, with an increase in SaaS-based offerings, mid-level companies will be able to take advantage of benefits of deception technology in greater numbers.”

Carolyn Crandall, Chief Security Advocate, Attivo Networks

A Major Cryptocurrency will be Hacked Within the Next Few Years

“The value of cryptocurrency has dramatically increased over the past few years. And as the value continues to rise, so too does its value to adversaries. But this currency lives on a network with no “armed guards” protecting its vault. It’s not a matter of if, but when, vulnerabilities will be found. And the result could cause a mass evaporation of funds. Bug bounty programs are a start – but there is still much more to do in the way of shoring up the security posture.”

Thanassis Avgerinos, Co-Founder and VP Engineering, ForAllSecure

Data Debt Will Be a Primary Cause of Breeches

“Organizations have data stored everywhere, from their latest SaaS application to their oldest desktop and everything in between. And while organizations have worked tirelessly to secure their perimeters and lock down rights and access, sensitive data remains unfound and unprotected. Minimizing this data debt’s security impact begins by viewing data as a threat surface and methodically mitigating that threat based on its relative value, volume and vulnerability. In 2022, there will be many organizations with millions of undiscovered and undetected risks across their data landscape, exposing their enterprises and their partners to significant damage.”

Kevin Coppins, President and CEO, Spirion

The Rise in Cybersecurity Compliance Mandates Will Lead to a False Sense of Security

“There are two key issues with a compliance-driven approach to security. The first is that compliance standards are just a bare minimum and tend to lag the threat environment by years, if not more. Additionally, being fully compliant can lead to a false sense of security. Similar to building codes, security mandates establish a minimum, not a ceiling. People tend to view compliance regulations as aspirational instead of as a minimal acceptable level. A building “built to code” simply means that if a contractor did anything less it would be illegal to inhabit, “built to compliance” is no different. A compliance-focused mentality also encourages a homogenous approach, which benefits adversaries. The more organizations look the same, the better attackers are able to understand the defenses they will encounter.”

Mike Wiacek, CEO, Stairwell

We’ll See a Boom in Companies Expanding their Offerings to Include Cybersecurity Services

“End-point solutions like EDR and XDR are becoming a mandatory requirement for organizations, as these systems provide more than just antivirus protection – they provide complete, AI-based insights to multiple levels of threats based on the behavioral data these systems detect, across all platforms the organization has (cloud, on premise, remote access). I believe we’ll see an increase in these types of offerings, especially as the office and home remain merged, and innovations like the Metaverse, IoT and cloud adoption continues to grow, bringing new potential threats along with it.”

Avishai Sharlin, Division President, Amdocs Technology

Ransomware Hits the IoT

“With ever growing dependencies on IoT technology, I expect we will start seeing ransomware attacks targeting IoT technologies in 2022. These attacks will lead to widespread outages of consumer products, and we may even see these attacks target smart vehicle technologies. This could lead to critical disruptions and loss of confidence by consumers.”

Deral Heiland, Principal Security Researcher, Rapid7

Ransomware Will Continue to Evolve

“We are now seeing ransomware converging with hacktivism, where companies are being hit with ransomware just due to the hacker’s perceptions of a businesses’ values, industry, or actions. In these situations, the hackers are not even requesting a ransom or offering to decrypt the data. We also see that ransomware gangs now have the funds to purchase zero-day vulnerabilities that used only to be accessible to nation-states. Ransomware-as-a-Service will continue to make ransomware more accessible to a wider range of attackers while also paying company insiders to deploy ransomware at their place of employment. Nation States are going to continue to invest heavily in compromising identities and using “live off the land” attacks that are very difficult to detect because they do not use malware but instead use native operating system features to carry out their attacks.”

Heather Gantt-Evans, Chief Information Security Officer, SailPoint

Also see: Better Proactive Security Strategies that Cost Less

Edge Computing

Edge Discussion Will Evolve to Separate into Two Focus Areas

“Edge platforms provide a stable pool of secure capacity for the diverse edge ecosystems and software-defined edge workloads/software stacks that extend our application and data systems into real world environments. We are already seeing most edge workloads and even most public cloud edge architectures shift to software-defined architectures using containerization and assuming standard availably of capacities such as Kubernetes as dial tone. This combination of modern edge platforms and software-defined edge systems will become the dominant way to build and deploy edge systems in the multi-cloud world.”

John Roese, Global Chief Technology Officer, Dell Technologies

IoT Connected to Key Business Outcomes

“In 2022, I expect a shift on enterprise IoT, where new projects are tightly integrated to key business outcomes instead of just being innovation for innovation’s sake. With the continuing pandemic and the focus on hybrid work, there is a pressing need to realize the business outcomes that IoT, together with supporting technologies like Cloud and AI, can enable. Organizations that cannot build their own IoT solutions will partner with experts – in software or services – to start realizing predictable, repeatable and measurable outcomes. If they don’t, they risk falling further behind.”

Vishal Gupta, Chief Information and Technology Officer, Lexmark International

Also see: Top Edge Computing Companies 

Artificial Intelligence and Automation

Ethical, Responsible, and Explainable AI Will Become a Top Priority 

The extreme quantity of data being generated has already exceeded human scale but still needs to be processed “intelligently” and, in some cases, in near real-time. This scenario is where machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) will come into their own.  If instant insights are the future, then ML and AI will help us produce these insights. The challenge is that data has ownership, sovereignty, privacy, and compliance issues associated with it that need to be taken into account as it is used to produce insights. And if the AI being used to produce instant insights has inherent biases built-in, then these insights are inherently flawed. This leads to the need for ethical, responsible, and explainable AI. The AI needs to be transparent, so everyone using the system understands how the insights have been produced and that transparency must be present in all aspects of the AI lifecycle – its design, development, and deployment. Transparency, inclusive design, and diverse teams are required to build a future state that more accurately represents everyone.

Liz Centoni, Chief Strategy Officer and GM of Applications, Cisco

Predicting Intelligent Information Will Gain Momentum

As we know, the shift to hybrid work has caused a massive increase in the amount of data being generated across numerous sources, and it is essential for today’s businesses to be able to capture, archive, and discover this rapidly growing volume of data. However, this process can be quite expensive based on the amount of data being generated and, the problem is, a lot of this data is classified as ‘dark data’ – meaning information that is collected, processed and stored, but isn’t used for any other purposes.

In the new year, organizations will start proactively predicting intelligent content right at the edge to get a better sense of what data really matters. In doing so, technology can leverage a combination of AI data patterns and policies to make an intelligent prediction of what content actually needs to be captured and analyzed, which in turn, will significantly lower costs and improve efficiencies. This is the next wave of managing not just data, but information, at its source.

Ajay Bhatia, GM, Digital Compliance, Veritas

Mainstream AI and Deep Learning

“As the toolset for AI applications continues to evolve, machine learning and deep learning platforms have entered the mainstream and will attain the same level of maturity as specialized data analytics. Just like we currently see a plethora of fully integrated managed services based on Apache Spark and Presto, in 2022 we will see vertical integrations emerging based on the likes of PyTorch and Tensorflow. MLOps for pipeline automation and management will become essential, further lowering the barriers and accelerating the adoption of AI and ML.”

Haoyuan Li, Founder and CEO, Alluxio

Automation over Outsourcing

“By 2025 over 50% of the revenue of the major consultancies will be derived from service delivery that leverages automation and AI instead of just human resources. 2020 will see large consultancies, VARs, Integrators, and Outsourcers strategically moving to build, acquire, or adopt automation technologies or risk becoming non-competitive. This will represent a major shift in how IT infrastructure programs are delivered over the next several years.”

Andrew Sweeney, Co-CEO, ReadyWorks

Startups Focusing on AI-Driven Software Development Will Continue to See Increased Investments

“While ML and AI today is largely siloed inside various pieces of the supply chain, more connected analysis across the toolchain will see an increase. Perhaps the biggest driver for this will be VSM, and its goal to collect and correlate data and metadata from across the supply chain. Generally ML and AI will start playing a bigger role in all aspects of the software delivery supply chain.”

Shawn Ahmed, CMO, CloudBees

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Will Ease Resource Challenges

“A global shortage of talent and labor has become the main constraint for growth among major consulting firms. Nearly two in three consulting firms say they’re short staffed, and one in five are turning down new business as a result. Leveraging emerging technology like RPA linked with AI will help to address staffing shortages, streamline processes, create new efficiencies, and reduce costs. In 2022 and beyond, consulting will be more knowledge-based and insight-based. The ability to get insight from data will be a critical skill that is going to be more in demand for consulting firms.”

Vivek Bharti, VP of Product Management, Icertis 

Businesses Will Finally Derive Value from AI Through Contextual Experiences 

“Though the benefits of AI have been lauded for years, it’s challenging to find use cases of AI providing true organizational value. Non-contextual AI/ML can only go so far. For content creators, contextualized intelligence will be a game-changer – especially when it comes to managing and searching for images. The CMS will eventually learn business lexicon to add context, provide warnings about sensitive content and provide guidance in terms of any content that needs to be trimmed down.”

Nishant Patel, CTO, Contentstack

Automation Gets Easier to Implement

“Organizations will begin to see that automation isn’t that difficult once you get going. In today’s organizations, processes are everywhere, and most of them can be automated to increase productivity, and quality of efficiency. However, automation as a business initiative can be very overwhelming for organizations looking to get the ball rolling. In 2022, IT leaders should start small and begin by selecting a less complex process to implement. A successful lighthouse project will allow organizations to scale automation efforts as the next steps.”

Bernd Rücker, Chief Technologist, Camunda

In Contact Centers, Consumers and Agents Will No Longer Fear AI, They Will Become Reliant On It

“AI has quickly gained widespread acceptance in the business world and has proven to be an important element in business processes. As the labor shortage continues to persist, businesses can’t risk burning out their agents so they will look to AI technology to help offload mundane tasks agents dislike while augmenting their capabilities to solve customer issues. Without a doubt, in 2022 consumers will also embrace artificial intelligence to help make their lives easier while preserving their ability to speak to humans.”

Patrick Ehlen, VP of AI, Uniphore

Healthcare will See the Biggest Impact from AI and ML

“I predict that in 2022, the healthcare industry will see the biggest impact from AI and ML. With advances in technology and data collection, AI and ML will be able to assist with diagnosis and treatment, and can dramatically accelerate the development of medicines and vaccines. The potential to extend human life is a very real possibility while also improving the quality of life, thanks to advances made during the pandemic. Additionally, this will have the most direct impact on the average consumer and will bring AI/ML to the forefront on consumer confidence.”

Myles Gilsenan, Vice President of Data, Analytics and AI, Apps Associates

Also see: Top AI Software 

Data Analytics

Business Users Will Be Empowered to Become Data Analysts 

“Enterprises will empower business users to become data analysts by applying well-trained natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning technologies, and implementing richly curated data catalogs to unleash the power of complex analytics. Organizations with integrated data strategies will provide their employees with the tools that allow them to gain data analyst “superpowers” by tapping into vast amounts of data and drive business results. This improves the productivity of business users’ and eliminates bottlenecks caused by the reliance on data analysts to find and analyze trusted data within their organizations, making the process more prolonged and arduous than necessary.”

Raj Gossain, Chief Product Officer, Alation

Greater Focus on Quality of Data 

“As first-party data becomes more regulated and the dependence on this data increases, more care must be taken to cultivate a proper business-led culture around the ongoing quality and improvement of data. For too long, this has been the exclusive realm of IT, where the business imperatives and urgency are merely hearsay. Business leaders that rely on the underlying quality of the first-party data will take ownership of driving this cultivation or curation function around this data. With the proper insights and transparency into the metrics and measures of data quality, they will seek ways to drive these data quality metrics up, resulting in improved outcomes. Leaders in this area will develop small expert teams, on the business side, whose sole responsibility is to track data quality, research and resolve data quality complaints or errors and plan programs for systemic data quality improvement.”

George Corugedo, Chief Technology Officer, Redpoint Global

Also see: Top Data Analytics Tools

Digital Transformation

Company Culture Will Be More Important Than Ever

“With many companies choosing to move forward with a hybrid workforce, company culture will become more important than ever in 2022. The pandemic brought on an entirely remote workforce (whether companies were prepared or not) and many employees faced challenges with creating genuine connections in a virtual environment. It will be pivotal for companies to realize the importance that if you’re no longer going to require an in-office environment, they will need to cultivate ample opportunities for co-workers to connect and collaborate in a supportive and fun way. Whether that be through company events, team events, personal interest groups or mentorship opportunities, company culture will be increasingly important in the next year.”

Lela McKenna, Principal Manager of Change Management & Training, Apps Associates

LowCode/NoCode Gains 

“LowCode/NoCode development environments will start to get more attention as they grow their footprint and face similar challenges that the general software industry has faced over the last 10 years. The focus in 2022 will be on building resilient evidence-based systems, focusing on recovery vs. prevention.”

Daniel Riedel, SVP strategic services, Copado

ESG Will Shift from Talk to Action and Unlock Contract Performance

“2022 will be the year of action around ESG and the purpose economy. While 2021 was the year of talking about ESG, 2022 will see more employees and consumers wanting to align themselves with companies that are doing good. Decisions will no longer be made based solely on cost, but on purpose and how a company’s purpose resonates with a customer’s own social values.”

Bernadette Bulacan, Vice President, Lead Global Evangelist, Icertis

Sustainability Will Hit an Inflection Point as Businesses Prioritize ESG

“More businesses will realize that digital infrastructure puts a strain on the environment and will start setting goals to reduce their carbon footprint. Mission-driven companies will work to get to carbon neutrality and others will experience increased pressure from shareholders to prioritize ESG to ensure ethical growth.”

Asim Razzaq, CEO, Yotascale

Also see: Top Digital Transformation Companies

IT Infrastructure

Standalone 5G will Herald Real Innovations 

“Service providers will be able to better enrich their offerings for both enterprise and consumers alike. It’s the ability to offer network slicing, guaranteed quality of service and exposure of the network through Open API’s and network functions like NEF (Network Exposure function) or NWDAF (Network Data Analytics Function) that will enable this.  Thus, we’ll finally move beyond the traditional “faster streaming” scenario many lean on today. On the consumer side, expect entertainment, learning and working to be advanced by virtual reality and augmented reality overlays. On the business side, expect private enterprise networks to be offered by communication service providers to their enterprise customers. These businesses will be able to design their own experiences on the 5G networks and monetize these unique experiences to create and control themselves.”

Niall Norton, General Manager of Amdocs Open Network and CEO, Openet

Virtual Desktops and Virtual Apps

“As organizations face the long-term reality of remote and hybrid work, they are seeking secure ways to enable users with access to all of their business-critical applications on any device, regardless of their location. According to the recently-released “VDI Like a Pro” report, adoption of Virtual Application Delivery grew 10% Y0Y and 17% of survey respondents who currently utilize Virtual Desktops indicated they plan to shift to Virtual App Delivery in the coming year. That trend would make 2022 a milestone year for a changing of the guard in remote work technology, where Virtual App Delivery will overtake decades-old Virtual Desktop technologies as the solution of choice for enabling remote and hybrid workers.”

Robb Henshaw, Co-founder and CMO, Cameyo

Kubernetes Will Develop a Greater Position of Dominance

“Kubernetes will gather mainstream acceptance to support serverless workloads and virtual machines. As such, hosting and edge platforms built to support Kubernetes will have a competitive advantage in being able to flexibly support modern DevOps teams’ requirements. Edge platform providers who can ease integration with Kubernetes-aware environments will attract attention from the growing cloud-native community. For example, leveraging Helm charts-as-a service (the emerging standard in application development language), where application builders can hand over their application manifest and rely on an intelligent edge orchestration system that just works.”

Daniel Bartholomew, CTO, Section

Within the Decade, Data Centers Will be Powered by 100% Renewable Energy

“To participate in the emerging circular energy economy, businesses must proactively forge municipality and community partnerships with energy and utility leaders and deploy more sustainable business models that leverage cloud and colocation partners. Over the next decade, all data centers will be 100% renewable, creating a sea change that gives rise to green supply chains and new economies built around low-carbon materials.”

David Hall, Equinix Fellow, Technology and Architecture, with the Office of the CTO

Also see: What is Digital Transformation?