The Most Important Technologies For 2022
It’s time to flip the calendar yet again, and after another uncertain year, many of us are excited to put 2021 in the rearview mirror. One reason for optimism in 2022 is technology’s continued development and deployment. In this article, we examine – in no particular order — five technologies that could prove to be the most impactful ones in 2022.
5G Cellular Connections
Indeed, 5G cellular connections are not new. However, 5G deployment is increasing in scope and scale. Consequently, many cellular customers – particularly those in urban and suburban areas – presently can access 5G connections. Further, most cell phones purchased since late 2019 can connect to 5G networks. Today, those who have access to 5G connections and have a device capable of connecting to 5G networks already can realize the benefits of 5G cellular networks.
Perhaps the greatest of these benefits are 1) faster connection speeds and 2) reduced latency. Specifications for 5G networks call for transmission speeds of up to 20Gbps. Putting this into perspective, 5G can transmit at speeds 10 to 20 times faster than existing 4G LTE connections and 20 times faster than connections provided over fiber. These speeds, coupled with 5G’s reduced latency, offer faster downloads and reduced buffering over cellular connections. As a result, 5G further enables a “cut-the-cord” environment for individuals and businesses alike.
Robotic Process Automation
Despite the name, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) does not involve physical robots invading your office and replacing human efforts. Instead, RPA consists of software-based tools automating data movements throughout a particular workflow. RPA does not replace human thought and critical thinking. Instead, it automates rote, repetitive tasks. In turn, this relieves humans of performing these tasks and frees up time to focus on tasks that require critical thinking.
Many of the RPA tools available today are “no-code, low-code” solutions. This feature means that many users can implement RPA workflows without requiring assistance from their IT staff. For example, using Zapier, team members can link data from many popular Cloud-based solutions into other Cloud-based solutions. To illustrate, you can use Zapier to link data from a Shopify-powered e-commerce platform into QuickBooks Online, thereby avoiding manually re-keying data into the accounting application.
One of today’s more popular RPA tools is Microsoft’s Power Automate platform. With this tool – a component of many Microsoft 365 subscriptions – end-users and power-users alike can create sophisticated and powerful automated processes. Power Automate’s platform contains hundreds of pre-built templates that you can use right away. Further, it offers connectors to many non-Microsoft tools and applications, enabling many easy and inexpensive automated workflows across a wide range of applications and services. Therefore, Power Automate-based RPA will grow significantly in 2021.
Accountants, auditors, and business professionals of all stripes continue to look to data analytics to help them understand business performance. Commonly, experts in this field refer to four types of data analytics.
- Descriptive analytics refers to measures that define and describe what happened in the past.
- Diagnostic analytics help us understand why we achieved a specific set of results.
- Predictive analytics tell us what to expect in the future, subject to specified inputs.
- Prescriptive analytics help us identify appropriate “next steps,” often when trying to achieve a specific set of results.
No matter the type of data analytics you use, an increasing number of options for generating these tools are available in applications we use every day. For example, Excel’s Data Analysis Toolpak can automate calculating many measures used in data analytics environments. Likewise, Microsoft’s Power BI Desktop application contains valuable features to calculate statistical measures and build forecasts based on historical data. Similarly, Zoho Analytics can also create numerous measures to advance your data analytics efforts. Suffice to say, those seeing to understand and improve business performance should consider using a data analytics tool to propel their efforts.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is closely related to data analytics, but these tools are different. With AI tools, you can use the underlying technology to identify issues you might otherwise miss. For example, Excel’s “Analyze Data” feature – found on the Home tab of the Ribbon – can identify and display hidden trends and relationships in relatively large data sets. Likewise, if you have access to a paid subscription in Power BI, you can upload a dataset into the Power BI Cloud. There, you can use Power BI’s Quick Insights feature to identify trends and relationships that you may not have realized existed. This powerful feature is an excellent example of a powerful AI tool you can use on transactional data.
However, AI extends to other types of data and applications too. For example, Grammarly is a terrific AI-based tool to check your word processing and other text-based documents. More than just another spell-check tool, Grammarly uses AI to analyze your tone, grammar, punctuation, clarity, and engagement to help you write more effectively. Similarly, PowerPoint now offers AI features to recommend edits to your slides to enhance their effectiveness.
And then there’s blockchain. Some describe blockchain as “a solution in search of a problem,” and there’s probably some truth to that. At its’ core, blockchain is a highly secure, distributed database that users can adapt for many different uses. To date, blockchain’s most visible use has been as the core technology underpinning cryptocurrencies. But, doubtlessly, blockchain is adaptable to a multitude of other applications. For example, blockchain could record deeds, issue insurance binders, and potentially even secure votes in elections.
Perhaps 2022 will be the year when blockchain expands beyond cryptocurrency and begins to move mainstream, and there are some signs it is moving in that direction. For example, spending on blockchain solutions in 2022 will approach $12 billion. Further, Forbes reports that blockchain can help secure Internet of Things devices, perhaps those deployed in concert with 5G rollouts. Likewise, in the same article, Forbes indicates that pharmaceutical companies could use blockchain to prove the authenticity of vaccine shipments, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Every New Year causes most of us to think about how the next twelve months might unfold. From a technology perspective, 2022 will be an exciting time. Undoubtedly, some of the technologies discussed here will move faster than predicted, and some will move slower. Further, other technologies not mentioned in this article will become media darlings and create much excitement and buzz. However, for the technologies likely to impact us the most in 2022, focus on the five discussed in this article.