October 28, 2021
Everything from cybersecurity and AI to more widespread cloud adoption and expanded deployment of business process management are some top areas of investment for the year ahead.
As organizations budget for 2022, the ongoing IT talent shortage remains a top concern for CIOs — especially as it relates to beefing up cybersecurity amid escalating cybercrime.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, organizations that adopt what’s called a cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA) “to integrate security tools to work as a cooperative ecosystem will reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90%.”
“Data is strung throughout many of this year’s trends, but it is only useful if enterprises can trust it,” said David Groombridge, research vice president at Gartner. “Today, assets and users can be anywhere, meaning the traditional security perimeter is gone. This requires a cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA).”
But it’s not just security skills that organizations are struggling to find, it’s IT skills in general. According to a newly released study from IDG Research, conducted in May, “[T]he shortage of available labor is forcing businesses to turn inward to find the necessary expertise.” Indeed, 75 percent of SMBs are “upskilling existing staff to meet demand.”
Remedying the talent shortage, though, is only one of many IT priorities for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 — and budgets reflect that. “Fifty percent of IT leaders expected their budgets to increase for the year to May 2022, with just 8 percent expecting a decrease,” IDG found. A recent Gartner’s analysis found that global IT spending will hit $4.4 trillion in 2022, up slightly from $4.2 trillion in 2021.
As a zdnet.com article observed, “An increased focus on investing in business outcomes as opposed to buying finished products underlies Gartner’s expectations for sustained growth in IT services — 9.8% in 2021, with a CAGR of 8.68% over the 2020-2025 period (second only to software at 11.9%).”
Quoted in the story is Gartner research vice-president John-David Lovelock, who during a recent webinar declared that “CIOs are turning more and more budget over to application development. Boards are giving more money to specific digital business transformations. CEOs want IT at the heart of the business value generation of the corporation. And that changes where money comes from, it changes where the money is being spent — there is a new focus on these new areas of build.”
Not surprisingly, artificial intelligence (including generative AI) and machine learning are also on the rise — for cybersecurity, improved language modeling and workforce augmentation, among other things. Twenty-one percent of organizations are already rolling out AI/ML pilot programs, and 46 percent have committed to increased spending on these tools.
“[A]s companies navigate the process of creating data and AI-literate cultures within their teams, we will increasingly find ourselves working with or alongside machines that use smart and cognitive functionality to boost our own abilities and skills,” Forbes reported in late September. “In some functions, such as marketing, we’re already used to using tools that help us determine which leads are worth pursuing and what value we can expect from potential customers. In engineering roles, AI tools help us by providing predictive maintenance – letting us know ahead of time when machines will need servicing or repairing. In knowledge industries, such as law, we will increasingly use tools that help us sort through the ever-growing amount of data that’s available to find the nuggets of information that we need for a particular task. In just about every occupation, smart tools and services are emerging that can help us do our jobs more efficiently, and in 2022 more of us will find that they are a part of our everyday working lives.”
Another trend is more widespread cloud adoption and the bolstering of existing cloud infrastructure, including cloud databases and software-as-a-service. The COVID-19 pandemic and the remote work migration it spurred “allowed CIOs to overcome any reluctance of moving mission critical workloads from on-premises to the cloud,” Sid Nag, Gartner research vice president, said earlier this year. “Even absent the pandemic there would still be a loss of appetite for data centers. Emerging technologies such as containerization, virtualization and edge computing are becoming more mainstream and driving additional cloud spending.”
Business Process Management (BPM) is also gaining traction heading into 2022, IDG’s study notes, with 25 percent of IT heads showing serious interest, 21 percent already implementing pilot versions and 27 percent using it “in production in a business unit or enterprise-wide.” However, smaller organizations lag behind larger ones (government sectors, especially) in advanced deployment of BPM.
Over the last 18 months, in particular, CIOs have demonstrated — to other executives, investors and employees — how central tech is to business operations going forward. Which is to say, there’s no going back to how things were.
Gartner’s Groombridge emphasized as much at mid-October symposium during which he enumerated a host of other tech trends for the coming year. Among them: Composable applications, hyperautomation and privacy-enhancing computation. “CIOs must find the IT force multipliers to enable growth and innovation, and create scalable, resilient technical foundations whose scalability will free cash for digital investments,” he said. “These imperatives form the three themes of this year’s trends: engineering trust, sculpting change and accelerating growth.”
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