Four predictions for the technology industry in 2022
The year 2020 was marked by uncertainty and societal challenges and 2021 marked the beginning of a transformation as a result of these profound changes. The massive migration to the online world created new business opportunities, digital advertising became more important than ever, and companies everywhere recognized the value of diversity. In my opinion, these changes will lead to the following effects this year.
We saw Mark Zuckerberg strolling in a virtual world, all reminding us of the cinematic, nostalgic, dystopian vision of the future, Ready Player One – which grossed 53.2 million in its opening weekend alone in the US, dominating the box office. It’s definitely a very cool book, but it also got us thinking. What could a metaverse really mean for our society? A metaverse could create a world where we are even more at home, even more lonely and less social. Who would be excited about this development?
I’m sure there’s room for VR, just like there’s room for autonomous cars. But I believe that an AR metaverse will win over a VR metaverse in the “eyes of the masses”; just as I believe that individual drones that we fly around with will be superior to autonomous cars. AR technology offers many of the benefits of a VR metaverse without having to leave our world entirely.
Whether we wear glasses at home and connect to a virtual world, or wear glasses outside and connect to an expanded world; whether Facebook “wins” in the Metaverse or someone else, the important thing is that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. If Facebook/Meta prevails, the company will have to solve bigger problems in order not to make the same mistakes as with its feed.
No more data breaches, no more hurting publishers through instant article initiatives, no more prejudice and moderation issues. Meta is just an “executing machine” and there is a real opportunity for the company to do the right thing.
2. All will sell digital ads
2021 was a record-breaking year for advertising. Global ad spend reached $780.59 billion, significantly higher than originally expected. This massive growth came in part from a drop in adspend in 2020 as economic uncertainty spread with the Covid pandemic. But the growth also came from the unleashing of entrepreneurship based on digital ads. They have enabled small businesses to bring their products to consumers worldwide and cost-effectively.
Social networks are in a state of upheaval and changes in the area of data protection are in full swing. Apple’s IDFA and other initiatives make it difficult for social networks to offer targeting like they used to, so advertisers will look for other channels to scale their campaigns.
My prediction is that eventually all long-reach businesses will start using ads as an additional revenue stream. I’m talking about everyone – all streamers, all automotive companies, telemedicine, pharmaceutical, real estate and financial platforms. Many industries are ripe for a reorientation towards advertising.
And it’s already happening. Bumble now sells first date apparel. Doordash just rolled out search engine-like ads on its platform, targeting news seekers. In doing so, it has followed other companies such as Uber Eats and Grubhub. Over time, I suspect Netflix will play ads in some markets, Tesla will show in-car ads, and consumers will see a “presented by” on every service they use of any significant size.
3. Remote work expands talent pools and increases diversity in the technology industry
The debate over why a diverse workforce is better should be long overdue. It’s not only right, it’s critical to success. Building a company with a diverse management structure and a diverse workforce will become just as important as a high return on sales. Both are indicators of success.
While 2021 was the year the tech industry struggled with failures to build a diverse workforce, 2022 will be a year of execution and measurement against real-world goals. 60 percent of companies have already taken measures to measure workforce diversity and 28 percent are working on introducing metrics.
Diversity is here to stay. Hybrid work will become permanent and the high turnover is expected to continue. Companies need to tap new sources of talent and continue to increase the diversity of their workforce.
However, diversity initiatives will change and focus on equality and inclusion. Next, companies need to support their diverse talents in hybrid work. You will find new ways to engage talent, improve collaboration and innovation, and make work fun and rewarding.
We will see that remote work and hybrid office environments will bring us closer to our self-imposed diversity goals. When proximity to tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and New York is no longer a requirement, tech companies have the world at their fingertips. This significantly expands the pool of applicants and makes it much easier for companies to find talent from different ethnicities, ages, genders and backgrounds. However, as we expand our pool of talent into other areas, it’s important to show empathy for each individual’s unique work situation so that everyone feels equally involved in their work.
4. Contextual signals will be the new “pink”
Consumers have spoken loud and clear – they want a personalized online experience without having to share personal information with tech companies. People don’t want tech companies to know who they are or where they’re going. Data protection is no longer just a topic discussed in legal departments – it is a topic that interests everyone. And people will get what they want.
In recent years, the leading Internet companies and government agencies have made many changes to protect users’ identities. GDPR, CCPA, IDFA and the upcoming cookieless world are only scratching the surface. This year, technology companies will look to contextual and implicit signals to personalize our online experiences. Amazon indicates that other users who bought this product also bought that – and this has nothing to do with me, but with people in my situation or with the context of the product I am considering. We will see this form of advertising much more often, as opposed to “tell me who you are and I will tell you what you need”.
I am optimistic that in 2022 our industry will grow and change for the better. Whether it’s AR versus the Metaverse competing, diversifying advertising space for advertisers, building diverse teams, or an internet with better privacy, 2022 will be a year of positive change.
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