Summer is coming and 2022 is about half over. It has been a fascinating year featuring a hopefully abating pandemic, deep economic challenges, dramatic technical advances, and other items of note. VLink, which can help any organization thrive in such turbulent times, is keeping its collective eyes on a number of important issues.
This is the first of two postings looking at ten things to watch for the balance of this year and beyond. All of them, in one way or another, will impact your business. Here are the first five:
- A balance between home and office. Telecommuting did not start with the pandemic, of course. It did, however, get a huge boost from the virus. It is thriving after years on the periphery.
To the enterprise, the house is becoming just another node on the corporate network. Look for this trend to grow because the biggest question has been answered with a resounding “Yes”: Somebody in their den is as productive as that person is in his or her office down the hall. More so in many cases, because people like working from home and don’t want to mess it up by goofing off.
Telecommunications service providers are opening networks that reach people’s homes and are wholly independent of residential networks. AT&T, for instance, in early June introduced AT&T Secure Workforce with Check Point, a platform that offers a variety of security options for home users.
- Everything is smarter: Corporate efficiencies will be pushed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Ways in which AI and ML can be harnessed to run a business more efficiently are almost limitless. Smart development teams are a key to unlocking these vast capabilities. Indeed, the only limit is planners’ imaginations.
- Hyper-automation: Many people believe that everything the new technologies do is exciting. Some of it is, of course. But, ironically, much of what these tools do is boring and repetitive. They handle these mundane tasks in order to free humans from doing highly repetitive and boring jobs. Whether those employees are given more interesting tasks to perform or shown the door is another topic altogether.
Automation will bleed into hyper-automation. The trend will continue during the balance of the year and beyond.
- Growth of fixed wireless access: 5G comes in a lot of flavors, and carriers made strategic bets on their focus. T-Mobile, for instance, opted to first focus on somewhat slower bandwidth that enables broader and faster deployment. Verizon, on the other hand, first went for high-frequency mmWave (millimeter wave) bandwidth that is blazingly fast (more about that in part 2 of this posting). It has far smaller footprints and highly specialized use cases. In general, carriers are starting to fill in the approaches they skipped and are offering fuller menus of options. Look for that to continue for the rest of this year into next.
FWA is the earliest large-scale use of 5G. Deployments will continue. It’s a game changer for addressing the digital divide and, in particular, bringing robust connectivity to unserved or underserved rural areas. The bottom line is that service providers are not eager to spend the money bringing wired telecom to areas with few users. That objection evaporates when the investment is reduced from digging up roads to changing out electronics on towers.
Is the pandemic over? The world has been working under the dark cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic for three years. We’ve now arrived at an odd time: People are acting like it’s over, and the lethality rate of the current variant seems to be lower. At the same time, people still are getting sick.
So it’s not inaccurate to say that it’s over and it’s not inaccurate to say it’s not. But what is clear is that business and commerce will face ups and downs and must be agile and flexible. A company with multiple locations may have a variety of site-specific rules in effect. These firms have complementary worries about supply chains and inflation, challenges that can be traced back to the pandemic.
How to deal with Covid will continue to be a moving target for the balance of 2022 and beyond. Organizations simply will have to react accordingly.
In the next part of this article, we’ll focus on Wi-Fi, DevOps, mmWave, device management, and the transition of corporate fleets.
The above-discussed trends look ahead to the last half of this year and the beginning of 2023 featuring the above five topics. Here are more ideas on what lays ahead:
- DevOps allows ever-fast development cycles: DevOps and related agile technologies enable companies to put platforms into general release more quickly. Discreet cycles collapse as quality assurance, new feature development, and other necessary tasks overlap. This approach rewards proactive companies that take advantage of opportunities more quickly and punishes passive ones that are reluctant to accept the new realities.
- Greater WiFi: WiFi has come a long way during the past few years. It wasn’t too long ago that people had to log on whenever they moved from access point to access point. Now people can flow as easily from place to place – and access point to access point – as they do in cellular networks. A more powerful version of Wi-Fi 6 has begun to gain traction. During the next year added to that new standard, Wi-Fi 6E, will become more common. The newer version uses the higher 6 GHz spectrum and provides far faster speeds and lower latencies. It thus serves more demanding use cases. The bottom line is that the Wi-Fi ecosystem is working to become the co-equal of 5G.
- Finding uses for mmWave: mmWave is the high-frequency version of 5G that provides extraordinary levels of bandwidth. This technical achievement leads to a marketplace challenge, however. 4G/LTE and lower frequency versions of 5G are fast enough to perform most tasks demanded by consumers and businesses. Put more simply: Nobody needs mmWave to stream a movie. Thus, if relatively few use cases demand mmWave, how will carriers and their ecosystems justify the expense of continued development and rollouts?One answer is to develop new applications and use cases, and many such efforts are underway. It’s safe to say that at least to some extent mmWave is a solution in search of problems.
- Device management grows: Autonomous vehicles, edge computing, drones, smart cities, and other techniques and technologies have at least one thing in common: Intelligence is distributed. Like Elvis, the “smarts” have left the building. This is a recipe for inadequate security and general chaos. The bottom line is that all these devices must be managed.
ABI Research puts it this way:
Device management services are evolving in response to a greater breadth of device technologies such as edge intelligence and connectivity technologies, as well as to customer pain points like scalability and security of IoT deployments.
Look for device management efforts and initiatives to grow.
- Fleet transition: The success of EVs and AVs – electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, respectively – are giving fleet managers a tremendous amount to think about. This is particularly true, of course, in organizations such as delivery service and broadband service providers that tend to run large fleets. The key to adapting to both new approaches is to think the strategy through. Many of the fundamentals will change.
The bottom line is that an organization’s fleets will change drastically over the next decade. Companies that proactively embrace this will benefit by cutting costs, gaining efficiencies, and providing better service to customers. Those that don’t will be stuck in metaphorical traffic jams.
Every year, journalists and pundits make predictions on who will win the World Series, the Super Bowl, and various elections. They usually are wrong. Predicting trends, however, is a bit different because they rarely are confined to one year. Thus, the things identified in this post and the one that preceded it likely will be trends for the remainder of this year and beyond. While that’s so, it also is likely that many were missed as well.