The term “technology” covers an enormous array of potential subjects. The dictionary defines technology as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry. Since we are living in the Information Age, most of the technology trends discussed below relate to how data is generated, collected, transmitted, stored, and analyzed. One of the most discussed technologies is artificial intelligence (AI), along with associated topics like cognitive computing and machine learning (ML). Mark van Rijmenam (@VanRijmenam), founder of Datafloq, predicts there will be a “Cambrian Explosion of Artificial Intelligence” in the coming year. He writes, “From huge generative pre-trained transformer models to synthetic data use cases and tiny machine learning models operating on the edge using AI-specialized chips, 2022 will see an explosion of AI.”
As is the case with most technologies, van Rijmenam notes that AI will be used for both good and ill. “In 2022,” he writes, “we will also see more advanced, automated, and intelligent hacking. Increasingly, hackers will turn to AI to get more work done, penetrate organizations faster and steal more data and money. At the same time, the people defending their companies will also turn to AI. Increasingly, both hackers and IT security staff will use AI, resulting in a battle at the speed of light and leading to better tactics on both ends.” For more on the subject, read my article about 2022 artificial intelligence trends. Below are some of the other trending technologies that could make headlines during the coming year.
Blockchain. Blockchain, beyond its use in cryptocurrencies, is a controversial technology that, proponents insist, has great potential, but there have been few dramatic, breakthrough use cases. Arti Chaudhary, a journalist and content analyst, writes, “Blockchain technology is often linked with cryptocurrency, but it is more than that. Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. It is one of the top ten technologies that will outperform AI/ML in 2022.” Critics worry that the advent of quantum computing will render blockchain more vulnerable than it already is.
Edge Computing. With data being generated at record rates and bandwidth being at a premium, it makes sense to do as much analysis as possible at the source so that bandwidth is only used to transmit the most essential information. Lin Nease, a Hewlett Packard Enterprises Fellow and chief technologist for IoT, observes, “By the year 2025, the number of connected devices in the world is expected to exceed 56 billion, according to IDC. And as IoT sensors proliferate through public and private spaces, the volume of data they produce will grow exponentially. Organizations will need to process that data locally so they can act on it in real time. Instead of shuttling that data to the cloud, they’ll be operating their own mini data centers on site.”
The Metaverse. Facebook changed its name to Meta because the company believes the metaverse is the next big thing in technology. Partha Narasimhan, Chief Technology Officer at Aruba, believes edge computing will open up the metaverse. “With greater compute and storage capability at the edge, images and video can be cached locally and served up instantly via ultra-low-latency 5G networks. The edge will enable new services like AR and VR that require content to be closer to where users are. Virtual experiences will be enhanced to the point where they’re easy and intuitive to consume. And as they get more refined, they will make it easier for people to meet virtually. Beyond reducing the need for business travel, AR and VR will be deployed in a wide range of industrial and commercial settings to improve workflows, bridge expertise supply and demand imbalances, and transform customer experiences.” Van Rijmenam adds, “The required technology to move from a centralized web to a decentralized web is getting closer to being ready for mass adoption. In addition, AR and VR hardware will get better, lighter, and cheaper. … Combined, next year will see more decentralized applications that are easier to use and have better UI, marking the dawn of the metaverse.”
Decision Intelligence. Chaudhary writes, “Even though it’s been around for some time, Decision Intelligence (DI) is still moderately new in IT. … It is an innovation intended to help organizations and business pioneers to comprehend the potential results of a choice before taking action. It contrasts with artificial intelligence/machine learning in that DI permits the business utilization of AI to accomplish better benefits and development. … Subsequently, it assists organizations with opening the worth of their information through artificial intelligence technology.” At Enterra Solutions®, we agree that decision intelligence (or decision science) has a bright future; which is why we are advancing Autonomous Decision Science™ and how it can be applied in the consumer packaged goods sector. For more on the subject, see my related article. Content analyst Aratrika Dutta notes, “To add value to the business and profit, decision management is already being used by organizations by incorporating it into their applications to propel and execute automated decisions.”
Cyber Defense. Malware and ransomware continue to plague organizations. As van Rijmenam noted at the beginning of this article, 2022 is likely to see an increase in such attacks. Jon Toor, Chief Marketing Officer at Cloudian, asserts, “The threat of ransomware will only continue to rise, making it a matter of ‘if,’ not ‘when,’ an attack will occur. Given these realities, more organizations will recognize the need to protect data at the storage layer with an immutable backup copy, ultimately ensuring they can recover quickly from an attack without having to pay ransom.”
Fifth Generation Telecommunications (5G). An IEEE survey, published in a study entitled “The Impact of Technology in 2022 and Beyond,” found 5G technology is likely have broad impact over the coming years. “The technology leaders surveyed said 5G will benefit areas like telemedicine, including remote surgery and health record transmissions (24%), remote learning and education (20%), personal and professional day-to-day communications (15%), entertainment, sports and live events streaming (14%), manufacturing and assembly (13%), transportation and traffic control (7%), carbon footprint reduction and energy efficiency (5%), and farming and agriculture (2%).”
Technology Convergence. Obviously, I’ve only touched on a few technology trends. McKinsey & Company analysts believe the greatest impact technology will have on society will come from the convergence of multiple technologies. They explain, “The combinatorial power of technology fuels [other technology trends], in which robotics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digital twins, and 3-D or 4-D printing (also known as additive manufacturing, or AM) combine to streamline routine tasks, improve operational efficiency, and accelerate time to market.” They also note that “all things digital continue to accelerate.” The top ten trends they identify are: 1) Next-level process automation and process visualization; 2) improved connectivity (5G and IoT); 3) distributed infrastructure (cloud and edge computing); 4) next-generation computing (quantum computing); 5) applied AI; 6) future of programming (Software 2.0); 7) trust architecture (blockchain and zero-trust security); 8) bio revolution; 9) next-generation materials; and 10) clean technologies.
As I noted at the beginning of this article, technology covers an enormous array of potential subjects. The Economist published a list that covers many more technologies than I discussed above — some of them very controversial. They include: Solar geoengineering; heat pumps; hydrogen-powered aircraft; direct air capture of carbon dioxide; vertical farming; container ships with sails; new vaccines; flying electric taxis; and brain interfaces.
Van Rijmenam concludes, “We are amid an exponential technology wave. Due to the convergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum-, nano- and edge computing, blockchain and VR/AR, organizations and industries experience disruption unlike anything seen before. Depending on how we humans apply technology, this disruption can be either positive or negative for humanity.” McKinsey analysts conclude, “In the next decade, we’ll experience more progress than in the past 100 years combined, as technology reshapes health and material sciences, energy, transportation, and a wide range of other industries and domains. The implications for corporations are broad.” If they are correct, the next decade should prove very interesting indeed.
 Mark van Rijmenam, “The Top 5 Technology Trends for 2022: The Year of Decentralisation,” Datafloq, 6 December 2021.
 Stephen DeAngelis, “Trends 2022: Artificial Intelligence,” Enterra Insights, 25 January 2022.
 Arti Chaudhary, “Top Ten Technologies that Will Outperform AI/ML in 2022,” Analytics Insight, 7 December 2021.
 Dan Tynan, “Six predictions for the future of the edge,” Enterprise.nxt, 8 June 2021.
 Stephen DeAngelis, “Trends 2022: Data Science,” Enterra Insights, 3 February 2022.
 Aratrika Dutta, “The Digital Future: Top AI Technologies that Will Gain Prominence in 2022,” Analytics Insight, 24 November 2021.
 Gary Ogasawara and Jon Toor, “2022 Predictions: Cloud-Native Apps, the Edge, Ransomware, and More,” Dataversity, 29 November 2021.
 Staff, “AI, ML, cloud, 5G to be most important technologies in 2022: Study,” Mint, 22 November 2021.
 Jacomo Corbo, Nicolaus Henke, and Ivan Ostojic, “The top trends in tech,” McKinsey & Company, June 2021.
 Staff, “What next? 22 emerging technologies to watch in 2022,” The Economist, 8 November 2021.
 Jacomo Corbo, Nicolaus Henke, and Ivan Ostojic, “The top trends in tech — executive summary download,” 11 June 2021.