No doubt the pandemic is a unique situation that taught the world to expect the unexpected, ushering in new challenges that forced organizations to accelerate digital transformation efforts at unprecedented speeds. While what’s to come further into 2022 is still unknown, we do know that the momentum behind modernizing will continue to grow in an increasingly global and connected business landscape. It wouldn’t be surprising to see significant disruption and innovation across industries, even ones that address major global issues, including supply chain challenges, climate change, the proliferation of consumer privacy laws or even financial recession. 

Whether it’s buying an item of clothing, exercising, or organizing childcare, today’s consumers require some form of digital interaction. In fact, according to a report by IDC, people’s daily digital interactions will increase from an average of 750 engagements this year to 5,000 by 2029. That’s why our subject matter experts believe organizations will continue to explore investments in new and emerging technologies that will help IT and development teams power the digital world that businesses and consumers live in. This includes future-proofing architectures with the adoption of technologies that enable scalability, agility and adaptability to quickly changing environments.

Against this backdrop, our industry experts at Couchbase looked into their crystal balls and forecasted the following trends and predictions that will help shape the IT and DevOps industry in 2022 and beyond:

Ravi Mayuram, SVP Engineering, Chief Technology Officer

A More Dispersed Future, Made Possible by “Edge 2.0”

  • We expect to see computing become more dispersed in 2022, enabled by the next generation of edge computing. Whether it’s mobile apps to factory floor sensors, there’s an ongoing trend to inject as much computing power as possible into tiny devices, enabling them to collect data and make decisions all on their own. Already, we’re seeing this made possible within the field of IoT, but “Edge 2.0” will propel this evolution further forward.
  • Currently, the edge requires a device to connect with a central server. Although a remote monitoring system for instance might be able to collate information on its own, it’s the cloud or central service that’s doing all the work. With Edge 2.0, we expect it’ll become possible for devices to work without a central server, thanks to a dispersed network of devices and decentralised cloud infrastructure. The link will be severed entirely. This network will see devices communicating with each other to enable them to work fully offline. And when they inevitably need to reach the cloud, more dispersed cloud infrastructures will see less resources used, driving increased value.
  • Within sectors such as mining, maritime or airlines, where connectivity is never guaranteed, this approach is already in full swing. But we think it’s likely we’ll see a proliferation of Edge networks across industries, as businesses seek ways of reducing costs and speeding up decision-making, regardless of connections to the cloud. Whether it’s to continue gathering data, enabling real time analytics, or any one of a million other applications, Edge 2.0 has the power to disrupt every industry.

Digital Will Take Over, Driving New Dynamic Experiences

  • In 2022, digital will take over every aspect of life. Whether it’s buying a piece of clothing, taking part in exercise or organising child-care, everything we do will require some kind of digital interaction. According to IDC, people’s daily digital interactions will rise from an average of 750 this year to 5,000 by 2029, which is no surprise given that most of us are increasing our reliance on some sort of technology.
  • In response to this merging of both the physical and digital worlds, we expect a rising number of businesses will dedicate more resources to upgrading the digital experience. This won’t just result in new experiences such as Virtual Reality to try out a new outfit or digital showrooms that show the dimensions of a particular item. It will also see greater investments made into innovations that support personalisation, improved decision making and better sharing of data. All of this will help to drive and deliver new customer experiences. From automation to real-time analytics, organisations will look to seamlessly deliver a mix of physical and digital services to meet increasing customer demand.

AI 2.0 Will Streamline the Decision-Making Process

  • AI is often overhyped and doesn’t always match up to our expectations. Next year this will change, and we will see a shift away from AI 1.0, towards a more sophisticated version of AI that will do more of the heavy lifting. If AI 1.0 was about streamlining operations by automating repetitive tasks, AI 2.0 will take this to the next level. In 2022, we will see reduced human involvement in helping people to make better, more informed decisions. AI will be able to analyse vast datasets in seconds, identify potential courses of action and give end-users a more streamlined decision-making process.
  • This shift will be powered by data. AI 2.0 will create vast sums of data (orders of magnitude more than humans can manage manually). As a result, organisations will continue to work towards an autonomous approach to data management. This means machines will handle machine-generated data to better help humans make informed decisions. Explainability will also have a growing role in 2022 – as we begin to rely more heavily on AI, the more we need to trace why and how it’s made its decisions.

We Don’t Know What’s Around the Corner

  • Although the pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime shock, it taught us to expect the unexpected. In all likelihood, the biggest innovation of 2022 could be something that no organisations have even considered yet.
  • It could be a major global or geopolitical event that pushes enterprises to adapt overnight – perhaps in reaction to the ongoing supply chain crisis, climate change, the proliferation of consumer privacy laws or even financial recession. The exponential growth of hybrid working in 2020 is a perfect illustration of this, as it was a game-changing solution to a problem that nobody predicted. Even if we can’t predict the unexpected, we can prepare for it. Organisations will ensure they’re equipped with the right data foundations and technologies to facilitate rapid change when it’s needed – helping to future-proof their architecture.

Matthew D. Groves, Senior Product Marketing Manager

Communication Will Unlock Opportunities for Developer Relations

  • Developer Relations is still a very young field, so who knows what the future might bring. I think there’s a tremendous amount of value in leaning on DevRel to provide a developer’s perspective to product and marketing decisions. Developers have a large amount of influence on decision making, because they are the ones who ultimately have to live with the decisions being made. Many people see DevRel as a type of developer marketing, and there’s plenty of truth in that. But I see it as an opportunity for communication to go both ways: to listen to developers and to use their feedback as a guide. I think many DevRel teams are lacking in that area, and are often too focused on outbound communication, instead of inbound. That’s where I’d like to see DevRel lean more towards in the future.

Developer Relations Will Face New Requirements in 2022 and Beyond

  • I don’t think the requirements or the necessary skills will change much. However, in order to be successful, I do think that DevRel teams need to have as wide a variety of skills and experience as the audience they are trying to reach. For instance, Couchbase has a server, cloud, and mobile offering. A DevRel team with specialization in each of those areas is critical to reaching each of those different communities. This is not to mention the wide variety of programming language ecosystems that further fragment into their own communities (.NET, Java, PHP, Python, etc.).
  • Another trend I see is that DevRel is often expected to reach mass amounts of people, and help create champions to reach even more people. But I think what shouldn’t be lost in the attempts to do this are the individual, one-on-one interactions that are so valuable. Helping a single person learn one new thing, or a small team learn about a feature that will save them time, or learning about a very specific pain point, are all critical for DAs to take on. I know that DevRel teams want to reach as many people as possible, but they should not leave behind the individual in the process.

Developer Relations Will Have to Navigate Emerging Challenges

  • The elephant in the room for any DevRel team is always metrics. How do we measure that what we’re doing is having an impact? The implication being, how do we justify our budget to leadership? I’ve asked this question to every DA and every DA-hopeful ever since I became a DA. The conclusion I’ve come to is that you have to do the best you can, but ultimately the greatest impact that DevRel can have is qualitative, not quantitative. If this isn’t kept in mind, what you might be left with are broad metrics like “hits” or “time on page” or “number of badge scans”. These are all fine things to measure and track and learn about, but as Goodhart’s law states, once a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Rahul Pradhan, Head of Product and Engineering, Cloud Databases

 Composable IT Will be a Requirement for Modern Organizations

  • Leveraging software defined components, composability removes the need to manage the underlying infrastructure and eliminates the need to reconfigure physical assets like servers, storage and connectivity based on changes in the workload. With composable IT, enterprises are able to manage their applications or services through a single unified control plane that can span multiple clouds, on-premises and all the way to the edge. That’s why today’s globally distributed enterprises will embrace the concept of composability – not just for their on-premises infrastructures but also for their multi-cloud and edge deployments.
  • Looking at architectures and how they’re evolving, enterprises will move away from monolithic architectures, toward building applications and infrastructures from component parts with well-defined interfaces. Businesses will continue to think about agility and simplicity when it comes to composing the infrastructure of technology stacks to achieve business goals – so the notion of composable businesses and applications will be a key trend.

Cloud, Edge and Microservices Adoption Challenge

  • Enterprises will leverage edge computing and multi-cloud, in conjunction with emerging networking technology that brings the cloud closer to the end user, in order to make services faster and easier to access.
  • As microservices adoption grows, more enterprises will need to consider adopting observability platforms that can help development teams identify and resolve root causes of application performance issues.

As we move into the new year, we’ll be keeping tabs on how these trends and predictions play out, especially as companies continue to prioritize modernization efforts to support the growing need for a distributed cloud architecture. Stay tuned to learn more on how Couchbase will drive digital transformation for modern enterprises in 2022!

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Posted by James Kim

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