I wonder what 2022 has in store. I’m certainly looking forward to teaching new students and meeting my colleagues again after a couple of months away in Europe. But it’s also time to make some predictions for the year ahead. Here, then, are ten technology trends that I think we be important for me this year.
1. Energy and green technologies
I followed COP26 with great interest and am certain that our impact on the planet must be a topic for this year and beyond. This means keeping in touch with energy markets, carbon capture, energy storage and battery technologies as well as ways to recycle, up-cycle and use less. I am a technology optimist and love the idea that we may be able to generate more from the sun, store and move it to where it is needed.
2. Meeting technologies
I’ve spent the last 2 years on Zoom along with the rest of the planet and it’s a horrible experience. Of course it is much better than what we had 3 or 4 years ago but the whole video meeting model needs to change. Let’s not design learning and work to fit Zoom but design for people and then find the best tools to support remote, asynchronous and more effective meetings. I recently came across an audio only meeting technology that is exploring spatial audio as a way to help people sense the speakers in the room and this and other VR developments show other possibilities ahead.
3. Moves towards interoperability
2021 was dominated by noises from governments and regulators about the big technology companies. We can see that Facebook (now Meta), Google, Microsoft and Apple are all operating types of walled gardens that make it very difficult for us to leave. While others talk of breaking up these companies I believe that opening them and their/our data up to competitors (through APIs) would be a much better solution. This means I could use NewSocial as my go to social network while still staying in contact with friends and colleagues on other networks (as behind the scenes, messages would be transferred between systems).
4. Blockchains for (mini) qualifications
This is rather niche but could be transformative of the education and training industries so deserves my attention. At the moment qualifications are embedded in national education systems. There is some equivalence matching internationally and the EU in particular has worked to harmonise levels across member countries. Some industries have done the same for smaller qualifications. I want to see my learners able to bank their short course successes in a distributed register that they can carry with them to show employers and build bigger qualifications (using smart contracts) from smaller ones.
5. Supply-chain, pay and jobs
Our current economies are beings shaken as we come out of the current phase of the pandemic and demand for products and services rises. We’ve seen signs of “the great resignation” as people quit exploitative jobs, shortages of labour particularly in the distribution parts of the supply chain and calls for governments to tackle the gross income inequalities that have become the norm over the last 20 years. These are a consequence of the way we have done things using digital so far and digital will offer opportunities to address some of these. I will be keeping an eye on transparent supply chain data, crowdsourced delivery and the r/antiwork movements.
6. Cybersecurity and trust
We’re beginning to see the new “Attack Surfaces” where both countries and criminals are waging new conflicts and committing new crimes and this is going to become clearer in 2022. Companies and individuals who until now did not really care about privacy, identity threats or privacy intrusions are realising that this is about them and we will have to weave security into every transformation plan.
7. World building for brands
If you’ve read anything else on my blog recently you will have realised that I’m interested in constructing worlds as a way of exploring the future. I can see powerful ways of using this as a way of making sense of digital marketing and branding and will explore this more throughout 2022.
8. Mental health
There has been much coverage recently on both Covid’s and social media’s impact on the mental health of employees and children and the impact on our societies. Remote working, schooling, socialising and sharing are being discovered to have bigger impacts on who we are and how we interact than we might have believed. We need to address this in what we teach, in what me build and how we design organisations.
9. Alt protein and vertical farming
I’m fascinated by the progress that food scientists and farmers are making in the development of new ways to feed ourselves and will watch this closely this year. Who would have thought that through harnessing smart lighting, irrigation control, AI, nutrient monitoring and robotics we would open up so many possibilities to automate food production.
10. The Metaverse?
There will certainly be a lot of noise around VR/AR/XR this year and some of the technology advances are likely to be interesting (watch CES) but this is at the very top of the hype cycle and it is likely to take many years before the real benefits (and problems) emerge.
I’m excited about the connections and linkages between many of these topics such as the changes in work and the challenges to the dominance of the big technology companies. My focus this year will be on keeping up-to-date, experimenting with some of these ideas and helping others explore the impacts on their organisations, themselves and on the planet.