The Gartner Group releases a list of top strategic tech trends every year. 2022’s themes are “engineering trust,” “sculpting change” and “accelerating growth.” These sound new and impressive--but are they?
The Gartner 2022 Trends
1: Data Fabric
2: Cybersecurity Mesh
3: Privacy-Enhancing Computation
4: Cloud-Native Platforms
5: Composable Applications
6: Decision Intelligence
8: AI Engineering
9: Distributed Enterprises
10: Total Experience
11: Autonomic Systems
12: Generative AI
Let’s take a look at the real nature of each of these trends, how long they’ve been around, and how much they overlap.
Trend 1: Data Fabric
Data has been essential forever, and solving the problem of making data accessible across platforms has been a priority for decades. “Data fabric” is just a new name for it, and there are limits to how much it can cost-effectively achieve. Gartner claims data fabrics “can reduce data management efforts by up to 70%.” How does it know?
Trend 2: Cybersecurity Mesh
Cyberthreats are an ever-growing problem that will never have a perfect solution. “Cybersecurity mesh” is just a new term for an architecture that integrates a whole raft of security services across an organisation--which is what everyone’s been looking for since hackers started hacking.
Trend 3: Privacy-Enhancing Computation
While privacy makes a great talking point, the truth is many business models run on a lack of privacy--and Americans tend to be much less bothered about it than Europeans. Until they care enough to change their online behaviour, “privacy-enhancing computation” isn’t going to mean much.
Trend 4: Cloud-Native Platforms
This is undoubtedly an important tech innovation, but with the massive move to the cloud during COVID, at this point it’s less of an up-and-coming trend and more of a new normal.
Trend 5: Composable Applications
“Composable” applications are all about creating an API- and event-driven culture and preserving legacy applications as companies migrate to the cloud. Again, this is a new name for a not-so-new goal.
Trend 6: Decision Intelligence
Decision intelligence was a new trend in data analytics in about 2010.
Trend 7: Hyperautomation
Hyperautomation is exactly what it says on the tin, automating as much as possible as fast as possible. Unless you slept through the pandemic, you’re more than aware of this one already.
Trend 8: AI Engineering
AI engineering refers to best practices in repeatable design, development and deployment. It’s a bona fide trend, but it’s been trending for at least five years.
Trend 9: Distributed Enterprises
This is the intersection between digital transformation and edge computing. We’ll let them have this one.
Trend 10: Total Experience
Collaboration between different companies to create a seamless customer experience has been aspirational for years, but few are actually doing it. There are some standouts, such as the fact that customers can return unboxed products bought on Amazon to Whole Foods, but overall this remains an aspiration rather than an active trend.
Trend 11: Autonomic Systems
“Autonomic systems are self-managed physical or software systems that learn from their environments and dynamically modify their own algorithms in real time to optimise their behavior in complex ecosystems.” This sounds great, but hardly qualifies as a trend.
Trend 12: Generative AI
Generative AI is a long-term strategic objective, but at the moment it’s not a discernible trend.
So what are the real trends? Broadly speaking, Gartner’s list is focused on automation, data infrastructure, and composable applications.
Of these, automation isn’t growing as rapidly as the press suggests; surveys show executives’ attitude to automation is more cautious optimism than overwhelming eagerness to invest. Data analytics are now mainstream, but the search for clean, integrated, accessible data is likely to go on for many years to come. Applications architecture, including edge computing, is finally gaining traction and is the nearest thing here to a real trend.