2021 was yet another defining year in how we live, work and view the world. Reflecting on it, several challenges come to mind: the enduring pandemic, global supply chain disruptions, an ongoing shift toward remote and hybrid work models—the list goes on. While it was a tough year for many organizations and people alike, these challenges have laid the groundwork for new opportunities to enhance our ways of living and doing business.
With technology advancements paving the way for more digitized, personalized experiences and new mindsets for leaders and their employees, here’s what I believe will be the four most influential trends in 2022.
1. Put people first: You can’t deliver good CX in the absence of good EX
Across the globe, we’re experiencing a cultural shift in priorities and norms as people rethink their relationship with work, job roles, companies and their future. Last year, amid the Great Resignation, more than 38 million workers left their jobs. That number is astonishing. Across every industry, organizations are struggling to attract and keep top talent, while skilled workers have their pick of jobs and their choice of workplaces.
Companies need to reassess how to hire and keep top talent, and explore new ways to bolster the employee experience (EX). How do you create jobs, roles and career paths that empower employees to have work and life harmony? What incentives and opportunities matter most in this new environment?
Understanding EX is key to retaining talent, elevating employee engagement and overcoming the enduring employee exodus. Moreover, EX is the most important driver for customer experience (CX); the two are undeniably intertwined. If your employees aren’t satisfied, your customers certainly won’t be either. Investing in solutions that support the critical needs of modern workers, like flexible connectivity and communications, is one way to demonstrate that your organization is committed to tackling this ongoing issue.
2. Level up on SASE: Business leaders embrace a SASE architecture as cybercrime hits an all-time high
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) has become such an important concept in network security, that it’s hard to remember this cloud-delivered framework didn’t exist three years ago. It’s no coincidence that SASE’s emergence corresponds with the latest spike of cybersecurity incidents—businesses are facing more cyberattacks than ever before, with corporate networks facing 50% more attacks per week in 2021 when compared to 2020.
The combination of SD-WAN’s dynamic, intelligent network capabilities coupled with advanced security functions has laid the foundation for a SASE transformation that empowers businesses to achieve comprehensive protection and necessary compliance for migrations to cloud ecosystems.
Gartner reports that 60% of enterprises will have a SASE strategy in place by 2025—up from only 10% just one year ago. With that knowledge, it’s absolutely clear that we’ll see a rapid rise in SASE adoption by the end of this year and heading into 2023. This year we will see enterprises prioritize education around SASE to understand how it applies to their business needs and goals—not only with their customers, but with sales and internal stakeholders as well. To prepare for all of this, businesses need to consider what it takes to successfully adopt a SASE solution.
3. Leverage the digital-first model: A better way to buy and manage solutions
Digital transformation continues to drive organizations away from aging infrastructures and outdated tools toward modern, IP-based solutions at an accelerated pace. With the advent of IoT and 5G—in addition to the surge of remote work—businesses have been asked to swiftly embrace a digital-first mentality within a highly digital enterprise model.
But the reality is that businesses today are struggling with technology buying. Gartner found that 77% of B2B buyers state that their latest purchase was very complex. Business leaders need the proper guidance and information to make confident decisions about which digital-first solutions will provide the best support, offer complete visibility and control into their applications and, ultimately, help them fix what’s broken.
Look for a technology provider that can answer this call and enable you to complete this complicated buying journey. An organization cannot solve problems in a vacuum; they do it with their trusted partners—and 82% of IT decision makers believe that collaborating with trusted partners is a high or critical priority to their organization. In 2022, find a provider that will help your IT teams buy, repair and manage solutions seamlessly with a digital-first strategy.
4. Invest in collaboration: Overcoming remote work barriers
Remote collaboration has empowered businesses to effortlessly connect face-to-face with people from any location, on any device. The usage of these solutions exploded in recent years and is now considered essential for all enterprises. Nearly 80% of workers were using collaboration tools for work in 2021, up from just over half of workers in 2019, according to Gartner’s Digital Worker Experience Survey—an increase of 44% since the pandemic began.
There’s an undoubtable need for people to connect and communicate from anywhere and this need is only growing (the UCaaS market is projected to reach $60 billion by 2027, a surge from $23 billion in 2019). And since we instinctively crave human connection, video conferencing has quickly become indispensable to any hybrid or remote work model.
This is the year that business leaders need to discover how to tap into pioneering unified communications & voice technologies to provide engaging online experiences so employees can get their work done from a variety of locations and collaborate effectively at a distance. There’s also the importance of assuring that your employees feel connected emotionally and culturally while creating workflows and processes that support a unified experience in dispersed environments. Clearly, the bar is set high for 2022.
There’s no doubt that this year will see plenty of activity surrounding these trends as our personal and professional lives continue to be defined by the pandemic and economic concerns. I predict that 2022 will offer vital opportunities for leaders to take advantage of innovative connectivity, collaboration and security solutions to carve out a better future for both businesses and the people who keep them running.
At Windstream Enterprise, we’re committed to helping enterprises prosper in a world where secure network connectivity and remote collaboration matter now more than ever. Whether to combat the next cyberattack, expand your distributed workforce or navigate through a jungle of emerging solutions, count on us to be a trusted partner that will support your business needs and offer an experience unrivaled in the industry.