The impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt as several technologies are poised to pick up steam in the new year.
BY ANIS UZZAMAN
As Covid-19 vaccinations increase globally, life is getting back to normal. However, it’s no longer the world we experienced before the pandemic. The long-term nature of this global crisis has changed customer needs and daily lifestyles. This will, in turn, change what I expect the world to look like in 2022 and beyond. Let’s review the top 10 technology and business trends that we’ll likely encounter in the coming year.
Momentum in Life Science Technologies
The life science industry comprises pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental sciences, biomedicine, nutraceuticals, neuroscience, cell biology, and biophysics. Partially because of increased investments in mRNA vaccine technology and high-performance Covid-19 testing, 2021 has driven great innovation in life science technologies.
Examples of this innovation include the mRNA-based vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and by Moderna. Recent Covid drug developments by Merck have also pushed the life science industry forward rapidly.
Looking ahead, I expect we’ll see strong movement in the several life science sectors, including advanced research; application of robotics technology; artificial intelligence (A.I.) tools; use of cloud technology; the improvement of drug testing speed; integration of genetic information; and usage of gene technology. I also foresee the development of personalized medicine through advancements in genetics technology. The startup 23andMe, for example, helps people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome.
Networking and Interconnectivity: Expansion of 5G-6G and Satellite-Based Internet Usage
As remote working becomes commonplace, internet reliability becomes more vital than ever. The internet of things (IoT) makes the internet a more integral part of our lives, and developments at all network levels will continue to drive research and push the internet economy forward.
According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index forecast update for 2018, there will be 1.4 billion more people using the internet by 2022, compared with 3.4 billion users in 2017. This equates to almost 60 percent of the global population, assuming a population of eight billion by 2022. By then, internet users are expected to consume 4.8 zettabytes of data per year, 11 times the amount of IP traffic generated in 2012, with 437 exabytes.
While 5G may be in its infancy, we’ll see an increased focus on 6G in 2022. China started research into 6G in 2018. By late 2020, the country had launched a satellite to test terahertz signal transmission. Huawei and ZTE were involved. The U.S. also started 6G research in 2018 with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opening higher frequency spectrum for experimental use. A Next G Alliance was started in 2020, with companies on board including Apple, AT&T, and Google. Korea, Japan, and some European countries have started looking into 6G seriously, and we expect to see more announcements in 2022.
High-Performance Computing Becomes Mainstream
Given the recent growth of big data-based research and analysis and cloud-based computing, I expect high-performance computing usage to surge in 2022. From drug discovery to cancer research to space exploration, high-performance computing will become increasingly important, and quantum computing technology needs to keep up with business demand.
We’ve already seen massive development in quantum computing space by players including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and Alibaba. Startups such as Rigetti Computing, D-Wave Systems, ColdQuanta,1QBit, Zapata Computing, and QC Ware have exceeded the industry expectations in their technology and their growth.
I expect rapid progress in quantum computing during 2022, because the high demand for larger machine power is going to accelerate development in this sector. We’ll likely see announcements of large qubit developments in the new year. Commercial quantum computing will soon be within our reach, and new breakthroughs will occur at an accelerated pace.
Continued Growth in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, and Cloud Computing
A.I. has become an integral part of our lives. From improvements to personalization, ranking search results, recommending products, and understanding and controlling devices to building better models of the environment to automating industry, we see the application of artificial intelligence everywhere as we look toward 2022.
Organizations are using predictive analytics to forecast future trends. According to a report published by Facts & Factors, the global predictive analytics market is growing at a compound average growth rate of around 24.5 percent and is expected to reach $22.1 billion by the end of 2026.
We will also see massive growth in cloud computing. By 2022, the cloud will be more entrenched and more computing workloads will run on the cloud. The internet of things will push this space in a bigger way, for sure. According to predictions from Gartner, global spending on cloud services is expected to reach over $482 billion in 2022, up from $314 billion in 2020.
Internet Security and Privacy Dominate
As the world becomes more digital, we’re seeing an increased number of personal and organizational cyberattacks around the world. Several corporations have been the target of major cyberattacks in recent days, and businesses have become more vulnerable to destructive attacks, in part because of increased remote work given the pandemic.
During 2022, I expect that we’ll see cyberattacks across sectors, and we will see the industry take a variety of counteractive measures. Defending against cyberattacks will include educating individuals so they can identify and avoid network assaults, thereby safeguarding their company’s image.
Applying A.I. will make robust cybersecurity protocols easier and less expensive to create and more effective than ever. Use of A.I. can enable cybersecurity to spot risks and learn the behaviors of cybercriminals, thus preventing prevent future attacks. It can also help cut down on the time it takes cybersecurity specialists to do their daily tasks.
The Metaverse Will Shine in 2022
The metaverse is a digital reality combining social media, online gaming, augmented reality, virtual reality, and cryptocurrencies to allow virtual user interaction. The metaverse may refer to anything on the internet, including all of AR’s offerings. Virtual space of the future describes the metaverse, providing access to all kinds of entertainment and projects, including the opportunity to work.
We expect the metaverse to be immersive, ubiquitous, and free to access. It will be digitally focused, and potentially involves entertainment, social connection, work productivity, and behavior modification at scale. It will create an entire ecosystem for developers, apps, ads, and new digital innovations. The metaverse will facilitate convenience, consumption, and a frictionless access to services.
Only a few companies today have a real stake in the metaverse. They include ByteDance, Tencent, Facebook, Spotify, Zoom, Amazon (Twitch), Alibaba, Roblox, Bilibili, Snapchat, Kuaishou, and Huawei. Apple’s wearables also point to the metaverse with AR glasses coming soon. Microsoft with Microsoft Teams and gaming is perhaps the most advanced company in the world regarding the metaverse. WeChat’s ability to facilitate payments and access to a variety of services is the start of the metaverse super apps.
As the metaverse ecosystem grows in 2022, I expect it will have a direct impact on the future of many technology sectors. These include gaming, wearables, VR and AR, collaborative productivity (Canva, Slack), consumer tech products (including AR glasses or smart speakers), social networks, educational technology, health technology, communication technology (Zoom), digital currencies, and convenience mobilization and on-demand consumption (Amazon, Meituan, Alibaba, JD.com, Shopify).
NFT Platforms Will Boom
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a digital object: computer code and data that conveys ownership of something. The property may be online: for example, virtual real estate in the digital world or special equipment in a video game. Or it could be real: real estate, a painting, or a seat at a concert. An NFT can also be a hybrid: for example, the right to decide who can rent a room in a cooperative living space. A baseball card, Ronaldo’s first ball, a vintage car, or a piece of land in Central London: All are one of a kind and can be transferred to the NFT.
In 2022, we are likely to see NFTs everywhere; this includes in movies, TV shows, books, and more. NFTs are part of the digital economy and are becoming mainstream because they allow people to own something that represents a part of something bigger than themselves — a piece of art or a character, for example. The digital economy is made up of a variety of online markets, including game economies, virtual real estate, and even social media platforms like Facebook.
Our society has changed rapidly over the past decade, especially because of the 2008 to 2009 economic crisis and the pandemic. These trends are coming together to shape a world where NFTs will beat traditional collectibles, making 2022 a tremendous year.
The Robotics Sector Will Become More Prevalent
We expect to see an increased use of robotics in everyday life during 2022. Usage will include the health care, agriculture, automotive, warehousing, and supply chain management sectors, and we will see more robotics-based automation that will continue to progress.
The Covid-19 pandemic presents both problems and opportunities for robotics companies in the logistics and supermarket industries. Unexpected strains on supply systems and product shortages have highlighted the need for better supply chain efficiency. It’s also become obvious that robots and automation provide a safe means for manufacturers to keep employees socially separated yet allow the business to continue operating.
The use of robotics process automation (RPA) helps automate activities that are performed repeatedly; we expect RPA to grow in 2022 and become a standard technology for business. CIO reports that chief information officers are using RPA to free workers from boring, repetitive tasks and allow them to do more fulfilling work. Finally, we’re seeing a rise in nanorobotics, tiny sensors with limited processing power. The first useful applications of these nano-machines may be in nanomedicine. Biological machines, for example, are used to identify and destroy cancer cells or deliver drugs.
Increased Urgency in the Renewable Energy Technology Sector
Climate change and dramatic news headlines are driving rapid growth in sustainable energy adoption. During the pandemic, this has been the only energy sector that has grown. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 40 percent more green energy was generated and used in 2020; the agency expects continued growth in 2022. The falling cost of generating sustainable energy also helps ensure that mass adoption is likely. While newer energy technologies like nuclear fusion, biofuel, and liquid hydrogen might take longer to come full circle, we look forward to serious advancements in 2022.
I also expect to see massive growth in the production and usage of solar and wind technology. Storage (battery) technologies are playing a larger role, since there will be an increased need to store renewable energy.
Blockchain Technology Prevails
Blockchain, an innovative breed of distributed ledger, enables companies to track a transaction and do business with unverified parties — even without the assistance of financial institutions. This new capability significantly lessens business conflicts; it also adds other benefits such as append-only data structure, transparency, security, immutability, and decentralization.
Blockchain technology has enjoyed massive adoption and continues to disrupt many industries, from gaming and governance to finance. According to the International Data Corporation, companies will spend almost $6.6 billion on blockchain solutions in 2021, a 50 percent increase from the previous year. This number is expected to grow beyond $15 billion in 2024. With the new rise of NFTs and the metaverse, blockchain will become more important in 2022.
Businesses are encouraged to start studying blockchain technology, since it is expected to generate significant business opportunities; Statista reports that global blockchain technology is predicted to grow to more than $23.3 billion by 2023. A notable existing blockchain deployment is that of Walmart’s supply chain database application, allowing the monitoring of individual products directly to their very source, effectively elevating food supply standards. Amazon is rolling out its blockchain initiatives for 2019, which allow its Amazon Web Services clients to benefit from distributed ledger solutions.
There’s little doubt that 2022 will see rapid progress in these and other technologies, as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic. I see a prime opportunity for smart startups, corporations, and investors to capitalize on these emerging technology and business trends to become more successful than ever. Let’s hope that the resulting innovation makes the world better for people and businesses.