Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, May 21, 2022

Deloitte’s 2022 Tech Growth Opportunities: Everything-as-a-Service, Hybrid Workers, More 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, tech organizations – like every other group on Earth – are dealing with a wide range of ongoing issues that impact their operations.

To monitor and review some of those effects and changes, Deloitte released its new 2022 Technology Industry Outlook report, which targets several tech-specific issues and shines some optimism on the growth opportunities that the pandemic is also leaving behind. The report points to tech growth opportunities in developing resilient supply chains, building the next iteration of the hybrid workforce, leading the charge to create a sustainable environmental future, and continuing to develop next level cloud and everything-as-a-service capabilities for customers.

“When the pandemic began two years ago, it catapulted many organizations into the future, rapidly accelerating digital transformation, the seven-page report states. “Work environments changed overnight as remote work became commonplace and market demands evolved. Deloitte urged technology organizations to upgrade their supply chains for greater transparency and resiliency and to embrace cloud, everything-as-a-service (XaaS), and edge intelligence to ramp up their transformation efforts.”

In response, by the start of 2021, Deloitte advised technology industry leaders to re-examine where and how their manufacturing was taking place, while also focusing on improving transparency, flexibility and resiliency for their operations. “We also suggested that organizations re-orient and re-skill their workforces in order to optimize remote work capabilities and take full advantage of advanced technologies such as AI.”

And now, a year later, with those recommendations still being adopted, Deloitte said it is now time in 2022 to take the new opportunities they have been given throughout the pandemic and “address these challenges more deliberately and purposefully. Instead of managing an immediate crisis, they can lay solid foundations for future innovation and growth,” the report continues.

Today’s Tech Growth Opportunities

The development of resilient supply chains is important due to the ongoing crises taking place in semiconductor chips and components which were in short supply in 2021, according to the report. Many of those supply chain challenges may not fully untangle until 2023, which should inspire technology companies to start proactively preparing for future uncertainty and other systemic risks by building systems with better visibility and resiliency.

Image courtesy Deloitte LLP

At the same time, companies should be working to build the next iteration of the hybrid workforce based on changing attitudes and expectations which created the “Great Resignation” of 2021, the report continues. “With more experience utilizing a hybrid workforce, tech companies are expected to evolve their cultures, accelerate experimentation with collaboration solutions, and develop better approaches to managing tax implications.”

In addition, the growth opportunity to create a sustainable environmental future is significant today, the report states. “The tech industry is working to address critical sustainability issues, and growing pressure from stakeholders and potential changes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting rules will likely incite tech companies to heighten their focus on reducing and reversing environmental impact.”

Finally, the need for new and deeper cloud and everything-as-a-service capabilities offer significant business opportunities for the tech sector as the pandemic continues to force systemic changes in business, the report concludes. “As more companies embrace cloud and service-based IT to drive innovation and transformation, and as XaaS providers multiply, more work is needed to manage the technical and operational complexities of hybrid, multi-cloud approaches. XaaS will be critical to digital transformation, particularly for new solutions and business models.”

What’s Next

Paul Silverglate, the author of the report, a vice chair of Deloitte LLP and the U.S. technology sector leader for the company, told EnterpriseAI that the growth opportunities from these tech issues in 2022 will be telling for enterprises.

“The Everything-as-a-Service model is something that is [a] party that is here now,” said Silverglate. “That will continue and the complexities around it will get broader, but they are manageable.”

Paul Silverglate of Deloitte

The supply chain challenges that began at the start of the pandemic, including in semiconductors and other areas, will continue – sometimes getting more complex, he added. “With all the different [component] mash-ups, not just tech products but in consumer products and on the shop floor and part of IoT and things like that. You can see the challenges that even in the United States where we have this abundance, you know that there are challenges keeping things on the shelves.”

The pandemic has also deepened already-existing shortages of workers as well, which continues to be a challenge for companies of all sizes, said Silverglate. But this must be resolved quickly and creatively by companies to be able to pursue the growth opportunities that are in front of them, he said.

“It is the immediate challenge of the hybrid workforce,” said Silverglate. In the report, Silverglate wrote about how companies must create what he calls “the startup life,” which means that they must recognize and treat at-home workers in the same equal and positive ways that they are treating people who are doing their jobs in their offices, rather than letting them feel isolated and disconnected from their companies.

“As long as humans have been around, we are social creatures,” he said. “Being physically together with somebody, being able to read their body language and building trust with them because you have spent time and gotten to know them and their families. It is easier to do when someone is in the room with you, and they are in person.”

That is disrupted by work-from-home situations where daily live contact is lost, the report continued. And it will affect even more by workers who permanently end up working from home after the pandemic, he said. “You need to have kind of this equality of treatment for people who work in all three ways – in the office, at home or in a hybrid approach. But it is hard to do. It is hard to treat somebody who you never see, who is in another town,” fairly and equally due to a lack of true face time.

When people work together in-person, their work communities can become very tight and their children can end up playing together on sports teams on the weekends, bringing them closer, said Silverglate.

“You have to treat that relationship the same way that you do for one of the people who works for you in South Carolina,” he said. “And so that equality is really important. The creativity around how to deal with that perhaps-permanent remote workforce [will be critical].

All these workforce issues need to be addressed by tech companies and others, he said.

“Now that we are getting to endemic times, where the pandemic is hopefully getting behind us, the demand will wane a bit … compared to the spike in demand that happened during the pandemic,” said Silverglate. “Tech has to consider this issue … to keep the growth going.”

The growth opportunity that “pleasantly surprised” him, Silverglate told EnterpriseAI, is “the genuine focus on ESG (environmental, social and governmental) issues” revealed in the Deloitte report. Many tech companies revealed that they are working to develop and create more sustainable products, which are being demanded by customers and users as well as by potential employees who are “demanding to be working for a purposeful company” that is more focused on ESG topics, said Silverglate.

“I keep using this phrase, and no one seems to love it as much as I do,” said Silverglate. “I love this concept of the duckbill chart. [It] starts at a point, a peak, and then it does not go back to where it started [like a bell curve], but it rests on the duck's bill somewhere. So, then the question is ‘what is the new normal?’”

In the end, though, Silverglate said he is encouraged for the tech sector in 2022. “I am very bullish on the tech and the opportunities that come out of the pandemic,” he said.

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