Turning up the Dial in 2022

The next generation of technology and IT is here

Welcome to the next generation of Enterprise IT infrastructure. Over the last 24 months, the world has become accustomed to uncertainty, with the only constant being accelerated change. We are certain though that unparalleled disruption and global challenges will continue to fast-track digital transformation, digital connectivity, and digital change now more than ever — and in the years to come. However, the burning question is, are we ready? And what do we need to be on top of, so we don’t get left behind?

It is clear: to be successful in 2022 and beyond, enterprises need to be agile and adaptive, able to move quickly and be nimble, and this extends to how they approach their IT network infrastructure, architecture, and systems.

To help with that, this year we are launching a new insights series for IT and tech executives: NextGen. Through NextGen, we will bring our clients and the industry at large the latest insights and innovative ideas on what is trending, where digital connectivity is headed, and what is next. To set the scene, here are the three key megatrends poised to shape the IT industry this year.

1. Cloud computing continues to drive digital transformation to the next level

Entering Year 3 of the pandemic, we have to accept that the hybrid working model isn’t going away anytime soon. According to a 2020 survey by Enterprise Technology Research, even heading into 2021 IT leaders expected 34% of all employees to permanently work virtually going forward.[1] And, in more recent research, most employees seem to be in favor of that.[2] This places immense pressure on enterprises’ IT infrastructure, requiring the network and systems to be agile, flexible, and adaptive. A mobile workforce and dynamic client base are the leading drivers accelerating this rapid transition to the cloud as part of the next level of digital transformation.

According to some predictions, the global cloud computing market will grow by $461 billion by the last quarter of 2025 to surpass $800 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 17.5%.[3] The shift to the cloud is happening across all industries as well as in all businesses, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs and start-ups.

This leaves enterprises with a lot of work to do so their network isn’t a barrier to their cloud adoption and digital transformation initiatives. Addressing these challenges must be a priority in 2022 and beyond.

Firstly, companies need to have the cloud at the very center of their network architecture and infrastructure, allowing safe, secure, and reliable digital connectivity to facilitate cloud-scalable, secure communications between users and applications. On-premises environments are almost a thing of the past today, with most workloads and applications now sitting outside the network perimeter and in the cloud. This calls for a secure, reliable, and agile network — which in some cases demands a total revamp of the existing network architecture. Traditional networks are simply no longer up to the task of servicing remote users in a way that can provide them with the experience they need — and that’s where SD-WAN and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) come in. This will continue to occupy the minds of IT leaders this year.

Secondly, there is a lack of knowledge and skills within organizations to manage cloud infrastructure and computing on a regular basis — which leads us to the next major trend we see for 2022: the rise of managed services.

2. Managed services — a strategic approach to advancing the digital agenda

In 2022, the focus for CIOs will be effective and fast implementation and deployment of emerging applications and cloud technology. As more IT decision-makers look to take advantage of modern cloud environments, data suggests that they’re increasingly running into some issues along the way — namely longer project runways and the need for bigger budgets. In fact, nearly half (48%) of US and UK IT decision-makers say the average length of time it takes them to complete a single multi-cloud application migration successfully is one to two months.[4] This has to change and become more efficient given the dependency on multiple and sometimes hundreds of cloud-based applications to cater to a remote workforce and customer base.

Against this background, it is no surprise that with the increased demand for ongoing specialized support of cloud infrastructure and applications, the need for managed services has exploded. A major reason for this is the complexity of the networks that now sit between the hybrid user base and an ever-growing multi-cloud environment. In 2021, the global managed services market was valued at $161.37 billion — but this is expected to double by 2027 to reach a staggering $311.32 billion.[5] Managed services allow companies to focus on their core business by offloading the hassle of keeping core IT systems up and running, while reducing IT costs and increasing operational efficiency.

On top of this, CIOs also need to stay on top of ongoing regulatory updates, changing industry and consumer needs, as well as the rise of emerging technologies such as IoT, blockchain, AI, AR, VR, and the list goes on.

CIOs need to partner with specialized experts who have their finger on the pulse with all these changes and can help navigate a forever-changing environment, giving the CIO and other business leaders peace of mind around compliance, security, and business performance. In response, the modern managed services provider (MSP) is currently undergoing a major makeover, having to acquire new skills in their teams so that they can meet the requirements of the modern enterprise and partner strategically with the CIO. Traditional managed service models will not likely deliver the outcomes that CIOs demand. This has led to the rise of the co-managed model to deliver the optimal shared responsibility blueprint for delivering intuitive, agile services and expertise to the enterprise.

3. A telco-independent backbone will be key for organizations as part of their cloud strategy

Telco-independency is gaining ground in IT. It essentially means services can run across the top of any underlying infrastructure, giving the business more flexibility and freedom.

With telco-independency, a company doesn’t have to necessarily switch telcos to access a particular software or service. This is a big departure from the traditional approach, in which the telco typically had a very deeply integrated technology stack, with managed services sitting on top of the equipment that the telco had deployed on a network that it owned and managed. A company did not have much say in how the service was run, nor much transparency or flexibility.

It’s no wonder then that senior IT leaders are now leaning towards telco-independence. It allows more agility and flexibility with their IT infrastructure, so they can better meet today’s evolving IT requirements. The enterprise is given controlled, safe access to self-service changes on the network; in other words, the company’s IT team has a measure of control over the network and can respond quickly to business needs. Especially when working with a trusted partner, this approach enables the IT team to optimize the network, supporting faster upgrades, smoother function, and a platform that performs well and effectively. At the same time, the company has the assurance that their MSP partner will handle protections and management of the network at a deeper, more complex level, including network-wide changes or software upgrades.

In summary, technology and IT continues to change at a lightning speed and it is the job of the modern CIO to keep two steps ahead. From harnessing the right infrastructure for cloud computing to alignment with the right external support and telco-independent backbones, these are just three of the megatrends we see are changing the enterprise IT sector as we know it.

Through our NextGen series, we will explore the changing face of digital infrastructure, secure connectivity, and managed services, and dive deeper into some industries to see where they are headed. For instance, what is the next-gen of manufacturing and Industry 4.0? With this ongoing change, how are technology and innovation roles evolving? What does the next-gen IT leader need to have in their toolkit to manage successfully? Follow this series and we look forward to helping you get ready for the NextGen.