Whenever a new year is coming to its end, lots of analyses, articles, and evaluations are presented about the emerging technologies that might be launched, become consolidated, or appear within the following twelve months. The year 2022 will be no exception.
However, after so many years working in the mid-market, at Making Sense we consider that chasing after the latest fad or hurrying to be the early adopter of a potentially unstable innovation is not usually the way to go. As technology partners to our clients, we support them to adopt those technologies to obtain business benefits with controlled risks.
The thing is that many organizations in the segment are divided between two extremes. On the one hand, they go after the latest trinkets and mirrors only to “add artificial intelligence” or to “have greater automation”, without having evaluated even the business case. On the other hand, there is extreme conservatism: “Why should I migrate my front end to a new platform when the one I have is still working?”; this is so especially when we consider that, in practice, the one that “works” is costlier, lacks the necessary scalability to adapt to business growth, or is a burden to productivity.
The challenge here lies in finding the break-even point: adding value to the business with safe, proven, and, essentially, forward-looking technologies. It is important not to evaluate only the state they are in today, but what could happen in the long term. Is this an ownership scheme that will be difficult to abandon or that will prevent us from evolving in the future? Does it require an investment that will leave us “trapped” until it becomes obsolete? These issues also have to be carefully weighed by a technology partner. The opportunity for mid-market organizations lies in modernization by skipping steps; that is, by directly adopting already-established technologies.
Having said this, we can concentrate on the large axes that will be the trend next year. No doubt, some of the main ones will be data and the organizations’ capacity to generate value from data. In its Top Strategic Technology Trends 2022 report, Gartner focuses on the concept of “data fabric” or seam of data: an architecture that integrates –without friction or complications– the management of data in different environments and contributes to the mainstreaming that organizations need to make the best decisions possible.
“Evolution of data fabric solutions is getting the attention of CxO’s clients as they struggle to capture the return on data decision promises. The infrastructure is a mess and a library of apps will not solve the problem” said Stephen Goodman, Founder and Operating Partner at Madrone O/A and a growth and innovation expert when I asked about his point of view on this. I agree with him and think companies are evolving their position towards data and many have realized the easy path wasn’t as successful as first thought.
Many mid-segment companies have a huge amount of data accumulated over the last ten or twenty years, which are practically never consulted or used. The time has come to clean the data, manage them, and start obtaining value from them. Granted, this is not a cool or trendy project, but it is a fundamental step so that future investments in technology yield greater returns to the business.
From intelligence to experience
Two other major centers of attention of 2021 will continue to apply or will even gain momentum, through the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI). Gartner Consulting notes the importance of AI engineering to increase their capacity to transform scientific models into functional applications, adapt cybersecurity strategies to combat more complex and intelligent attacks, and combine the user experience, the employee experience (EX), the client experience (CX) and the user experience (UX) in a unique scheme called total experience (TE). Even if Gartner presents it as a novelty, the truth is that Making Sense’s approach has been aimed in that direction for a very long time; the experience must be homogeneous, coherent, and positive throughout all the organization’s touchpoints with its stakeholders. That is why, when we design a UX, we do not worry only about how the screens look and feel. We also take into account, for instance, the customer service personnel and their response to customers using the software.
Another trend that is emerging and impacting organizations of all sizes and industries is sustainability. This is no minor issue when organizations try to lure a PE investor. Nowadays, investors want to put their money in socially-responsible organizations, which – as they are realizing now – make more economic sense too. The good news is that new technologies are actively contributing to reducing paper consumption, generating more efficient operations, reducing the carbon footprint, or establishing production processes that take better care of the environment, among other possibilities.
In the midst of such technological vertigo, maybe 2022 could be the right time for mid-segment organizations to forget any future technological fads and to launch their own IT trend: that of intelligent investments to become modernized, to make better decisions and, starting there, to support and grow their business. Let me be clear, even though these companies usually don’t need a technological disruption or to apply every new trend to be successful, they still need to be innovative, rethinking their ways because as Marshall Goldsmith said “What got you here won’t get you there”.