The four biggest challenges tech companies will face in 2022

A new report from Deloitte looks at how themes like sustainability and a hybrid workforce will impact tech companies this year.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer

Tech companies have their work cut out for them this year to navigate the challenges and new ways of working.

Deloitte's 2022 Technology Industry Outlook report published on Thursday looks at four main themes that will play a foundational role for tech companies in 2022. These include taking cloud and service-based IT to the next level, creating new supply chains, building out the hybrid workforce, and creating a sustainable future.

Paul Silverglate, the vice chair and US technology sector leader at Deloitte, told ZDNet that the biggest takeaway from Deloitte's report is the continued importance of collaboration and the sharing of resources. 

"The companies that are best able to work collaboratively and in a heterogeneous environment are the ones that are going to be the most successful," he said. 

Companies that utilize technologies shifting to a service-based model -- mainly via cloud -- will be able to thrive in the so-called "new normal," he said. The report said that since cloud has quickly become the preferred platform for artificial intelligence capabilities, intelligent edge services, and advanced wireless connectivity, many tech companies have begun and will continue to leverage a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy to increase access. 

In addition, learning from and preparing for future disruptions in the supply chain will better prepare companies from the difficulties experienced over the past two years, according to the report. 

"To effectively deal with future (and potentially greater) supply chain challenges, tech companies should build their supply networks with the ability to offer granular visibility across all tiers and levels," the report reads. 

However, Silverglate said the most urgent of these four themes is potentially the hybrid workforce. He said 2022 would be an important year for the hybrid workforce model and how to successfully navigate it as it is definitely here to stay. In particular, tech companies should focus on a few different key areas when creating a new hybrid workforce strategy, he said. 

"[Equivalence is] the thought that companies will have to make sure that people feel equally treated," Silverglate said. 

"So if you are choosing to work virtually, part-virtually, or in-person, how do you treat somebody the same consistently? How do you treat someone that you have only ever seen on screen versus someone who shows up in the office and maybe you're able to go to lunch together?"

He added that companies would have to figure out purposeful engagement to create concrete reasons as to why people should come together. In addition, tech companies will have to work out colocation rules or the type of flexibility to allow employees.

"Companies will have to ask, 'Will we allow people to be anywhere in the world, or do they have to work in certain timelines and time zones? Do they have to be accessible to a certain location within an hour drive or an hour flight?'" Silverglate said. "What is the afterlife regarding how flexible work arrangements look like and what virtual or hybrid work arrangements look like?"

The report also looks at the future of sustainability in the tech industry, and it actually looks promising. According to Deloitte's 2021 Climate Check Survey, eight in 10 tech executives said they were concerned about the crisis, and a majority believed the world had reached a tipping point to act.

"My read of it is particularly now compared to it was even two years ago or even four years ago, is that I'm really impressed with how serious the tech community is taking sustainability," Silverglate said. 

He said while you'll always find someone who doesn't think progress is happening fast enough or thinks it could be broader, he pointed to the big picture as being what is important. 

"You have to look at the overall picture as to how much energy is being consumed or saved by the products that we're working with," he said. "And I think collaborating as a tech community and using cloud environments -- which allows for a smaller concentration of people or companies to control, manufacture, or utilize the technology infrastructure -- makes a big impact."

By tech leaders setting goals to reduce a company's carbon footprints, real change can happen -- and it's clear it needs to. The tech sector alone is reportedly responsible for 2-3% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, chip fabrication and data center cooling both use enormous amounts of water, with a typical data center consuming as much water daily as a city population of about 30,000–50,000.

Overall, Silverglate said the tech industry has a lot of work ahead of itself this year that companies would have to overcome strategically. 

"The world is getting more complex, and solving complexity as a skill has always been a challenge and will continue to be a challenge," he said. 

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