Life comes at you fast. Technology — even more so.
This time two years ago, many of us wouldn’t have the slightest idea what Zoom, the metaverse or NFTs were. Now, they’ve become a regular part of our tech vocabulary, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic accelerating the adoption of new digital technologies.
It’s certainly been fun to watch emerging tech go mainstream, but it would have been even better if we were among the early adopters… the first to buy in before it blows up.
So, for 2022, I asked tech executives, startup founders and local investors about their top tech predictions for the year. I wanted to know what trends they’re bullish on, and what (if any) they find bearish.
Just to throw in my two cents, I think 2022 will be a big year for automation, cybersecurity and climate-related innovations. Sure, those sectors aren’t as flashy as space tourism or futuristic-looking electric vehicles, but if you think about a few of the biggest challenges businesses are facing today — the continuing labor shortage, data hacks, infrastructure issues — it makes total sense. Call it a safe (or boring) prediction, but I’ll bet you I’m right.
Here’s what everyone else had to say:
“Based on our pipeline and portfolio density, we continue to see a rise in biomedical and pharma innovations. The intersection of software technologies (and a software mindset) with life sciences is fascinating. Innovative entrepreneurs are making solutions more variable and programmable by incorporating algorithms into everything from drugs, therapies, and interventions to manufacturing and delivery.
“With the combination of software as a drug, efficient and reliable genomic maps, and rising interest in platform technologies, this increasing power and scalability will continue to drive everything from precision and personalized medicine to breakthroughs in treatments for rare diseases.”
“Bullish on AI becoming more accessible to the masses. I think as the implementation of AI spreads, we will continue to see more and more low-code options across diverse platform providers. This will likely (and hopefully) continue the conversation/action around ethical AI, as we wrestle with algorithmic bias, AI implementation bias, data privacy issues, and more.
“Also bullish on autonomous vehicles as I think we will see their widespread use rise in 2022. “That juxtaposed against hybrid work environments, environmental concerns, and transportation equity issues is likely to upend how we think about and interact with transportation. Side note: I’m hoping The Boring Company will acquire Amtrak in 2022.
“Unsure on the metaverse. My son and I have been playing Roblox for at least three years, so as a social gaming platform, it’s a no-brainer. With hybrid work and school environments becoming permanent, it will be interesting to see how it plays out, especially as it becomes integrated with the various virtual meeting platforms. I think 2022 will clarify which way it will go — is it THE future of work or a niche market like the Segway (of which I own two)? Excited to find out.”
Expect video commerce to play a bigger role in how online purchases happen in 2022. It’s already an $11B market in the U.S. and most major social networks are starting to offer shoppable video experiences for the first time. McKinsey estimates live shopping will represent up to 20% of all online sales by 2026. Business that start creating content for this format in 2022 will grow their audience, sell more and have more repeat buyers than shops that rely on brick and mortar or e-commerce alone.
“From my perspective, automation and how it is impacting the restaurant industry will be the main story moving forward, from robotic cooks flipping hamburgers to autonomous delivery mechanisms.”
I am dating myself, but the last two years have felt similar to the late ’90s emerging internet era in the sense that there is significant investment funding/liquidity for new and emerging technologies. The ones getting the headlines (cryptocurrency, Web3, metaverse, DeFi, etc.) seem to share a common theme of decentralization. That is, empowering individuals and smaller networks over institutional systems. To a great degree, the investments in internet infrastructure over the last 20 years have laid the groundwork for this. I would expect the tension between current systems (financing, networks, product monopolies, etc.) and these decentralized efforts to continue to grow in 2022. These are big markets so I would not expect the current incumbents to go quietly into the night. But it does feel like there is significant change coming over the next 5-10 years. As an investor, increasing decentralization does feel like a trend to bet on.
“Related prediction: dominant centralized social networks (e.g. Facebook) have reached their peak. There will be increasing pressure from a political, economic, and individual expression perspective to diminish their power and influence. You might be hearing more about Section 230 in 2022 (look it up).”
“Telehealth and health tech as a whole will continue to be amazing companies as the pandemic has forced us into this whole new world. Also B2B enterprise and cloud based SAAS solutions as the corporate workforce is now “allowed” to work from home and often times encouraged to but they still need to stay connected. And finally direct to consumer as a whole will thrive as big box stores and brick and mortar now more than ever understand the necessity of e-commerce and talking to and deliver direct value for an individual consumer or household.”
“I believe we will see continued and accelerated traction among tech and tech-enabled companies in Louisville and Kentucky. In 2021 we saw a $100M round from Climavision, a $1B+ partial exit for Appriss and three tech ecosystem companies in Kentucky become publicly traded or announce plans to SPAC with a collective valuation of over $5B (AppHarvest, Rubicon Global and EdjSports). There were obviously many more notable funding events in the ecosystem, but this area has never previously seen a year with so many headline funding rounds and exits. I believe this is the beginning of a significant inflection point for the tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kentucky that will accelerate in the coming years.”
“I am very bullish on agtech and the ag [agriculture] sector. If you look at the ability to track plant health, yield and farm management most solutions have been too complex, therefore not easy to use for the majority of farmers. I foresee this sector maturing and better solutions being created particularly around farm management.”
“Crypto gains adoption as a decentralized technology. In 2021 most people know crypto as currencies and coins for trading, or maybe NFTs for art and profile pictures. 2022, however, will see broad-based adoption for crypto as a distributed technology stack. Don’t call it blockchain, which is just tech/better rails for incumbents — the term “Web3” helps to convey the technological ecosystem intersects with a decentralized business model that benefits, and compensates, developers and users… which takes us to:
“Crypto gains adoption as a decentralized business model for start-ups and mainstream businesses. 2021 saw crypto described as currencies and art. 2022 will see increasing adoption of crypto the technology for social coordination, one that unlocks aligned incentives of all participants and generative business models where users and community models are not units from which to maximize revenue or sources of data to harvest, but co-owners of the technology, protocol, and businesses that they help create, share and grow — both in the digital domain, and in real life… which takes us to:
“Crypto serves as an economic battery for small businesses, entrepreneurs, blue-collar folks, in real life. 2021 saw crypto through the lens of the metaverse. 2022 will increasingly ground that synthetic reality in real life as communities employ crypto technology and business models to address and solve real-world problems. Users will replace cost centers for their businesses — either digital or physical — with crypto analogs where rather than pay for, they gain ownership and revenue from these crypto-based applications including payment, music, telecommunications. As this accelerates beyond 2022 things get really interesting…
“Crypto becomes the fabric of technology, business, communities, losing the meaning of the term as we think about it less and less but use it more and more. As communities use generative business models of crypto unlocked by decentralized tech, they will self-organize to augment, then replace traditional permission institutions from finance to education to governance and public goods. Look carefully at the example of the city of San Jose using Helium to pay for broadband access for its citizens as a model. Eventually crypto isn’t the thing itself but the mechanisms to gain the things for which we hope, and how we work together to achieve them. Just as we no longer think about ‘the internet’ or ‘mobile’ as separate things in that there are no longer ‘internet’ or ‘mobile’ venture capital funds or businesses, but everything in our current world has the internet and mobile access woven into its fabric… so too will our future selves look back on 2022 as the year crypto started to become both nothing… and everything.”
“One tech area I am closely watching is the mega trend towards user privacy and data ownership back to the individual. Just like NIL [name image likeness] and NFTs are now starting to allow athletes and creators to own their brand and their art, individuals will start being able to own their digital footprint, and not just gift it to the biggest social media companies.”
“Anything health care-tech related for 2022. There is so much opportunity in health care and so many better ways to do things with tech. I see huge a change in the way care is delivered and doctors getting creative with how they can reach their patients.”
“At V-Soft the requests to support automating business processes to improve efficiencies thus reducing expenses are growing. This falls under the term ‘hyperautomation’ and can include technologies like “Robotic Process Automation” (RPA) and its pre-requisite ‘Process Mining’ including various AI applications. While there are many terms forecasted as being ‘hot’ for 2022 like ‘Autonomic Systems” (in simple terms learning systems) or “Data Fabric” (flexible data integration across platforms) the vast majority of companies are just beginning to implement or even start investing in hyperautomation technology.
“Trend followers may indicate ‘Cloud’ adoption as a past hot trend but, cloud migration is and continues to be a very hot topic with our clients. Cloud adoption has accelerated in 2021 due to the pandemic and everyone working remote within the newly minted ‘Distributed Enterprise.’ Cloud adoption continues to be a leading growth area supporting most every advanced and trending tech area. What we are seeing is that today’s cloud is different than pre-2020 incorporating many advanced AI centered capabilities including IoT, augmented reality, and the expansion of ultra-fast 5G networks.
“With the advent of the ‘Distributed Enterprise’ cyber-security must be at the forefront for every company as access from anywhere is no longer an option, but a requirement for companies to stay competitive creating exponentially more facets of exposure to phishing, hacks, and breaches to employee and customer data alike.
“As we look to 2022 the digital transformation trend is no longer reserved for tech companies or one-off departments but for all organizations to consider a complete move for most every process to a digital level.”
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