10 Cloud Predictions for 2022: Powering the Digital Economy

CORP Blog 10 Cloud Predictions LP Header 2021

The world’s a remarkably different place than it was barely 2 years ago, and as we look to the year ahead, we can be sure that the pace of change will only increase in the global economy and in our personal lives.

At the heart of this massive transformation to digital lifestyles, digital business, and the striking changes taking place in both areas is the rise of cloud computing. The cloud is having such an impact on all phases of our lives that it’s appropriate to think of the cloud as being a mindset as much as a technology.

A few examples:

  • Telemedicine was a topic of endless conversations but no action for decades, and suddenly it’s not only making a debut but it’s a staple in the lives of tens of millions of people.
  • Two years ago, if someone had tried to tell you that something called “curbside pickup” would become, here at holiday time in 2022, not just an experiment but a must-have capability across the retail world, you might have suggested that person should sit down until his or her head clears.
  • People are buying homes without ever setting foot in them.
  • The “Great Resignation”—I prefer to think of it as the Great Awakening—is seeing hundreds of millions of people be able to work from home or from anywhere on a permanent basis. “Zoom” is now a verb, and while some people fear that digital technology is making people more distant, this is an extraordinary example of how it has done the exact opposite.

Cloud technology made all those things not only possible, but practical, affordable, and endlessly reliable. And as more and more businesses across every industry and every region of the world turn to the cloud to help them accelerate operations and unleash innovative ideas, products, and services, we have every reason to believe that more remarkable capabilities will become everyday routines in 2022.

In that spirit, here’s my list of 10 predictions for how cloud computing will continue to reshape the world in 2022.

Driving the data revolution We communicate online, shop online, arrange deliveries online, interview and hire job candidates online, close multimillion-dollar deals online, and discuss our most intimate health concerns online. All of those new experiences are powered by data, which can now be aggregated more easily than ever before, analysed more quickly and productively than ever before, and shared more precisely (and appropriately) than ever before. Whether it’s new forms of Business Intelligence (BI) or some of the stunning new data-visualisation tools that the cloud is making available to everyone, advances in the cloud will accelerate and expand the Data Revolution that is changing—and, I would argue, enriching—all of our lives.

5G and the connectivity boom In #1 above, I talked about some pretty powerful things happening “online”—and I’m predicting that within 3 or 4 years, we won’t even use the term “online” anymore. Instead, with the rise of 5G services and new products and capabilities powered by 5G, what we now call “online” will just become “normal”. Businesses large and small will have the power to reimagine what they make, how they engage with customers, new types of business models, new geographic-expansion possibilities, faster turnaround times, and much, much more. The limit will no longer be technology—the limiting factor will instead become our imaginations.

ERP for the Masses I don’t mean that unauthorised folks will be able to mess with mission-critical operations and code—heaven forbid. Rather, the insights that ERP systems can generate will be shared more broadly so that more people in more departments across an organisation can contribute meaningfully to making the company run as well as possible. And the cloud is behind these changes, as cloud-based ERP systems like those from ECI are easier to use, easier to update, and easier to configure. If it’s true that ERP systems are the lifeblood of companies, then opening the flow of that lifeblood to more people will only improve the overall health of the entire organisation.

Customer Experience Meets Employee Experience We hear many CEOs in many types of companies talking about how their #1 priority is to create great experiences for customers—and I agree with that 100%. But at the same time, we have to ask ourselves: is it possible for companies to create great experiences for their customers if the employees of those companies are not having great experiences as well? Is it reasonable to expect that employees who don’t feel they’re being treated fairly or treated well or have a voice will somehow find it in themselves to make the great efforts required to deliver superb customer experiences? I wouldn’t want to bet on that one.

Software Companies Collaborating More Deeply with Customers We’ve all heard the sayings, “Every company’s becoming a digital company” and “Every company’s becoming a software company.” I agree with those claims, and of course it’s taking some companies longer than others to get there. But I have a question: what happens to the software companies—like ECI—when every company becomes a software company? Well one thing’s for sure, and that’s that business as usual won’t cut it. And one emerging area of huge opportunity that I foresee for great software companies is to begin collaborating more deeply with customers all the way up to and through the point of co-creating new products and services together. As every type of company becomes more of a technology creator, wouldn’t it make sense for an established software company to join forces with those customers to create together what neither could create on its own? This is a perfect use case for the cloud.

Breaking Out of Industry Boundaries For decades or even a century or two, most businesses were bounded by the walls of their particular industry. If the retail market got soft, well, almost all retailers suffered—if the industry was ailing, you just had to ride it out. Well today, those rigid boundaries are being demolished as companies are remaking themselves on the strength of the cloud to “follow the money” and follow their customers across industry boundaries. Look at two the newest entrants into the centuries-old insurance business: Tesla is now selling car insurance, and Google Cloud is selling cybersecurity insurance. Airline companies are striving to become “destination experiences” companies that want to not just get you where you’re going but help you have a fabulous experience while you’re there. Is Apple a computer company? Phone company? And if Shell is an oil and energy company, then how can it also happen to have more retail locations than McDonalds? The cloud is now leading this cross-industry revolution.

Industry Clouds One of the drivers of that Industry Revolution outlined above is a new wave of dazzling business applications aimed at industry-specific solutions to help companies handle the new types of processes sparked by the digital revolution. If a hospital has to deploy a whole new generation of processes to enact new levels of patient safety as well as data-driven patient care, is it reasonable to think that 10-year-old applications can handle that? This new generation of industry-specific clouds will be the hottest segment of the cloud industry in 2022 and is going to be a primary driver behind the rise of the digital economy.

Cybercriminals Become More Devious and More Dangerous All of this extraordinary new digital technology is, unfortunately, available to the bad guys as well as the good guys. And as businesses create and deploy wide ranges of new digital services and capabilities, those cybercriminals will exert enormous resources and creativity to trigger and exploit security vulnerabilities within those expanded digital networks.

Speed Becomes the Defining Characteristic of Digital Business With the world rushing at us faster than ever before, and with billions of consumers eagerly deploying the almost unlimited range of choices they have, businesses must find ways to move as fast as the customers they serve. Among the primary benefits of cloud technology over traditional IT are: it can be purchased more quickly, configured more quickly, deployed more quickly, updated more quickly, secured more effectively, and expanded more quickly. CEOs in every industry are beginning to understand that having the best products and services is not enough—they have to be able to move at the speed of their markets, or no one will care how good those products and services are.

Supply-Chain Havoc: Dramatic New Solutions Will Be Found From digital twins to supply-chain analytics to the imminent interconnection of supply chains with demand chains, the current disarray in global supply chains will result in dramatic reconfigurations of how goods and services are sourced, procured, shipped, and deployed. Many manufacturing companies are reshoring production to the U.S., and some of those are also building mini-factories close to where buyers are located. Cloud technologies are involved in all of that, but I think their true promise will be revealed in advanced analytics that anticipate supply-chain problems and create innovative solutions or workarounds before those problems occur. This is another case where great ERP companies such as ECI have a chance to innovate in powerful ways that drive enormous new levels of business value.

So, whether these things come to pass or some variations of them take hold, 2022 will no doubt be an extraordinary year that rewards companies that can anticipate the future, that move closer than ever before to their customers, that balance employee experience with customer experience, and that fully and fearlessly embrace cloud technology as the engine for business innovation and success in 2022 and beyond.

All the best to you on that dynamic adventure!