Even though most organisations have found the past two years disruptive, their adoption of more agile technologies is positioning them strongly for the opportunities to be gained in 2022 and beyond, writes Rowen Grierson, Sales Director at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.

With so many shifts taking place, it is easy to get lost identifying the ones that could prove to be optimal. So what do we at Nutanix think may unfold into 2022?

Managing hybrid work

Many businesses will continue to embrace the cloud to facilitate a distributed work environment better. Along with this will come the need to be more operationally consistent across these clouds and deliver unified user experiences, policies, security, and service level agreements.

Technology will tie all this together for improved employee engagement, a repositioning of the company culture, and a more productive workforce. The adoption of new solutions will be more fluid than ever, with IT departments needing to keep pace with all the changes on policies and systems required. Invariably, the hybrid workforce will result in companies downsizing office space and strategically leveraging their IT teams to provide innovative ways of keeping the lights on while maintaining mobile workers.

One of the lessons of the past 18 months has been how Gen Z will play a more important part in shaping business strategy for the immediate future. Some organisations might even consider creating purpose-built roles for these digital natives who are no longer constrained by physical and geographic boundaries.

That being said, 2022 will likely see a return to the basics of IT – asset management, identity and access management (IAM), and business continuity. In the case of asset management, companies must have a complete view of their IT estate to ensure they manage and protect it as effectively as possible.

In turn, IAM will bring more control and insights on user access and authority. Thirdly, business continuity will evolve into more realistic (and agile) disruption response plans to mitigate against the impact of future disasters on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Securing the cloud

Within this cloud-driven world, companies will need to find ways to avoid vendor lock-in. This will see the normalisation of adopting hybrid and multi-cloud strategies that will incorporate the best services from each environment while still having the freedom to migrate applications and data where they see fit.

One of the reasons this will be so important is that business and technology leaders will realise that the cloud does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach. In fact, a significant portion of their enterprise apps will run better on-premises than from the cloud.

But creating an integrated technology bridge between the hybrid and multi-cloud necessitates a rethink on cybersecurity. This will remain one of the biggest priorities for any organisation, especially given how rapidly cyberattacks have evolved to harness more sophisticated technologies over the past two years.

Cybersecurity standards must therefore adapt to what is required to take a more proactive defensive stance. And it is in this segment where security automation will be critical. Whether it is protecting a remote workforce, cloud or on-premises infrastructure, or all the applications and data linking these, organisations must be more holistic about taking care of cybersecurity risk management.

Automating resource-intensive security processes to allocate resources more strategically will be a key pillar in 2022. The insights generated by such automated systems can then be used to adapt processes for users, applications, and data across the permission request and access lifecycles. However, this does not mean that physical infrastructure can be neglected.

Companies need to upgrade their ageing IT infrastructure to minimise vulnerabilities from out-of-date operating systems and devices like routers, firewalls, and so on.

AI to the fore

With automation comes artificial intelligence (AI). The combination of these and the introduction of machine learning will help companies address many of the challenges they have experienced over the past two years. This does not mean that integrating AI will be smooth sailing.

Business will fail often when it comes to implementing AI with identified use cases, and it will be a continuous learning experience requiring patience and commitment. Not many will have this focus, but if organisational obstacles in a cloud world are to be overcome, a level of perseverance with AI projects will need to be implemented.

All told, the enterprise landscape has irrevocably changed. Businesses must be more agile, more willing to adapt, and more open to integrating sophisticated technologies faster than ever. The cycle of innovation will continue to accelerate with increasingly advanced customers demanding more of service providers.

Those businesses that can do all this and more will be the ones that can harness the growth opportunities available in the complex landscape of 2022. Yes, it will not happen without difficulties. But change as significant as this cannot take place overnight. The target is ever moving, but the key is to continue the path to reach it as effectively as possible.

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