The end of 2021 looms just around the corner. Traditionally, a new year represents a chance to reflect on the past and plan for the future. A significant concern for companies is staying up to date with the latest advances in technology.
The issue is always how to decide what tech trends are essential. After all, the line between a bold vision of the future and enticing clickbait can be blurry. I sat down with Cody Erben, Head of Technology Management at In Time Tec, and Rob Tuft, VP of Client Success at In Time Tec, to see what technological advancements hold promise for this year and next.
Surprises of 2021
As expected, the pandemic played a significant force in determining this past year. Something no one predicted was the job market upheaval. During the business shutdowns, many employees took the chance to retrain for new jobs and quit their existing positions in a trend called "the Great Resignation.” Companies also had to explore remote work and hybrid models more seriously, as shutdowns meant more people connecting remotely.
“It also created this space for people to really look at how we can do work differently,” Erben said. “From what I’ve seen, technology is more ubiquitous than ever before.”
Another major shift was the decrease in travel. The rise of videoconferencing meant a reduced need to visit clients in person.
“As I talk to my friends in Sales, they’re like ‘well, I’m just going to get on a Zoom call and talk to that new account,’” Tuft said.
Looking to 2022
Utilizing Existing Data
Big data means significant opportunities for customization, improved marketing, and better products. Companies are starting to analyze existing data to see what it offers and how it can improve existing processes.
“That’s one area for me that I’m pretty excited to see,” Erben said. “Because it’s not just one specific use case like tracking people for marketing purposes. It’s all sorts of data that can help people have more insights on what’s working, what’s not working, and what to focus their resources on.”
This rise in the importance of data marks a growing need for data scientists and modeling. Modeling improves business decisions, so companies are demanding better data gathering methods. In Time Tec considers data a critical factor in determining future software development.
“As we’ve started to build products, we’re starting to think data first,” Tuft said. “Working on a new product, we’re thinking about all the pieces of data we’re collecting and we’re pulling in a data scientist right now and saying ‘let’s talk about the future.’”
Smaller, Faster, Lighter
The longstanding tech trend of wanting things to be smaller, faster, and lighter will still play a significant role in 2022.
“Across the board on technology, it’s how do we take some of the more complex problems and break them down and run them in more distinct silos,” Erben said.
This approach focuses on splitting issues into pieces to allow for more rapid development instead of attacking a problem all at once. Smaller systems create tradeoffs, but it also means less interconnected systems. Previously, larger software systems tackled all issues at once, which meant a longer development time.
“Users of apps and businesses, they want to get functionality in their hand as soon as possible,” Tuft said. “So that means fast deployment, fast delivery, which means smaller weight to begin with.”
Smaller initial software development can grow into more comprehensive technology with more features. By focusing on the first features users need, this represents a significant ideology shift in software development.
“As we’re building the apps, we’re thinking about First Release, we need to make sure that it’s secure,” Tuft said.
From a software development standpoint, this means testing that used to happen way down the line occurs now. Software architecture review, penetration test to simulate potential cyberattacks, and other security measures now happen much earlier in development. This leads companies to place a greater emphasis on security when purchasing new software.
Finding the Latest and Greatest Trends
You can’t keep up on the latest trends if you don’t know what they are. Erben said he gets the latest general technology news from Ars Technica, a news website, and podcasts like Hanselminutesand Coding Blocks. Tuft said he likes to keep up with proven thought leaders, like Mike Cohn for agile programming, through whatever medium the leader produces.