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Top IT predictions in APAC in 2022

Operationalising zero trust, talent retention and containerisation are just some of the key trends that will shape Asia-Pacific’s technology landscape in 2022

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: CW Asia-Pacific: CW APAC: CIO trends

As one of the first in the world to emerge from the throes of the pandemic, Asia-Pacific (APAC) organisations are expected to invest more in cyber security, cloud computing and automation in 2022 to secure their digital future.

These investments, revealed by the recent TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT priorities study, dovetail with the 2022 IT predictions fleshed out by technology suppliers and analysts. These include mega trends such as zero-trust security, 5G and hybrid work, as well as developments related to business agility and talent.

In this round-up, we review some of the key IT trends that are likely to shape the industry in 2022.

Operationalising zero trust

Many teams have focused 2021 on planning for their organisations’ long-term recovery and growth, under a refreshed IT infrastructure designed to support the changing demands of a hybrid workforce.

Ben King, chief security officer at Okta Asia-Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in 2022, IT teams will continue to operationalise these new arrangements. As part of this focus, many more organisations will venture into practices such as risk-based access controls as part of a zero-trust architecture.

In addition, the consolidation of identity requirements – including privileged access management (PAM), identity access management (IAM) and identity governance and administration (IGA) – will be more commonplace as well, as organisations look to streamline disparate identity requirements.

Supply chain attacks intensify

Kurt Hansen, CEO of Tesserent, expects more supply chain related incidents in 2022 and beyond, causing difficulties for providers and customers.

He noted that many Australian companies are vulnerable, admitting they most likely wouldn’t know if there was a breach since they have only very limited visibility of, and knowledge about, the cyber security capability of their providers and suppliers. This is a significant blindspot, and a risk for many Australian businesses. 2022 will see more threat actors exploit this vulnerability.

Already, 40% of breaches in 2020 originated from weak IT supply chains. Prominent breaches affecting well-known companies like SolarWinds and Kaseya have gained a lot of attention and served as a wakeup call, but the forecast is that many organisations still won’t be ready. 

“Anywhere work” less prevalent

Despite the growing adoption of hybrid work, just 40% of firms in APAC will make anywhere-work permanent, compared with 70% globally, according to Michael Barnes, vice-president and research director at Forrester in APAC.

Barnes said this is due to region-specific pressures which will force 60% of APAC firms to prepare to bring the vast majority of workers back to the office full-time.

In the manufacturing industry, only 34% of workers in the region’s large manufacturing sector can work anywhere while outsourcing firms with purpose-built secure campuses and high-availability facilities won’t be able to provide the same level of service in remote locations with poor infrastructure.

On the employee side, high-density extended-family living likely accounts for the fact that 65% of APAC information workers are eager to return to the office, according to a Forrester study. Some 58% are also less productive working at home during Covid-19, compared with 46% globally.

“Firms operating in APAC need a region-aligned anywhere-work strategy that balances employee expectations with the feasibility of hybrid work approaches,” said Barnes.

Telcos to hone 5G chops

2022 will see telcos look to leverage learnings across their 5G deployments, IT assets and managed service solutions for operational efficiencies, according to Shain Singh, 5G and cloud solutions architect at F5 Asia-Pacific, China and Japan.

Having undertaken trials for 5G infrastructure alongside customer-led edge computing services, Singh said there is an opportunity to integrate cloud, security and software as a service (SaaS)-like offerings by providing a common operational model across their fleet of assets and locations.

“We will also see increased collaboration among business units, and creation of cross-functional teams will accelerate in 2022 as service providers continue their digital transformation by moving to more agile and DevSecOps-oriented workflows,” he added.

Edge locations, however, are not likely to increase this coming year, as these are assets the service provider already owns, and will be used to converge managed service solutions with 5G infrastructure roll-outs, said Singh. “Greater focus will be given to innovate with enterprise, manufacturing and government customer segments to provide means for future growth.”

Talent retention top leadership agendas

In Australia, the skills shortage across multiple sectors will continue to be a challenge, even beyond borders reopening. Organisations will have a more concerted effort towards staff retention, by providing better employee experiences and flexible work arrangements, said Kristen Pimpini, regional vice-president of Twilio in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

“As we debate the shorter-term band aid solutions such as increasing skilled migration, the current crisis is a wake-up call for Australian organisations to nurture and retain our highly skilled local talent pool,” said Pimpini.

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ANZ already boast of great innovation credentials, having introduced innovations such as the electronic pacemaker, the ultrasound, Wi-Fi, vaccines, among many others, said Pimpini.

“We have consistently placed highly in global rankings for technological readiness and entrepreneurship. Yet, we continue to lose local talent to key Asian hubs, Europe and the US.”

To address the talent gap, Pimpini called for organisations to roll out comprehensive programmes to recruit, train, motivate and retain professionals – an essential move to ensure economic resilience and growth.

“Beyond monetary compensation, organisations need to create the right environment and culture to allow local talent to thrive and be their best selves,” he said.

Containers to be competitive differentiator

Digital transformation will not only accelerate in 2022 but will also focus on finding competitive differentiators that help companies stand out from rivals.

Matthew Oostveen, chief technology officer and vice-president of Pure Storage in Asia-Pacific and Japan, said one way they will do this is through investments in containers and Kubernetes.

“Containers and Kubernetes are the driving force behind how the industry is reinventing the way we build and run applications, fuelling enterprise IT efficiency and their popularity will only continue to expand in 2022,” said Oostveen, adding that the number of startups that are applying Kubernetes in the security space will increase in line with a general focus on vulnerability management and reporting capabilities.

Surge in chip demand but supply crunch remains

Deloitte predicts that many types of chips will still be in short supply in 2022, but it will be less severe than it was for most of 2021, and it will not affect all chips.

The continuation of the chip shortage and its staying power boils down to a significant surge in demand, driven by digital transformation and accelerated by the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, venture capital (VC) investment in semiconductors is taking off to fill that demand for new kinds of chips. Deloitte predicts that VC firms globally will invest more than $6bn in semiconductor startups in 2022. That may only be 2% of the $300bn-plus of overall VC investment expected for 2022, but it’s more than three times larger than it was every year between 2000 and 2016.

Cloud sovereignty to create new security demands

In an increasingly multi-cloud world, traditional perimeter-based security approaches have become obsolete. Ray Garnie, vice-president for APAC at DigiCert, predicted that cyber security challenges will become even more demanding as cloud services become more granular.

Garnie noted that organisations are deploying cloud solutions that are increasingly subject to local jurisdiction and regulations. Cloud sovereignty controls are focused on protecting sensitive, private data, and ensuring that data stays under owners’ control.

“For example, Alibaba is expanding its cloud business with new datacentres opening in South Korea and Thailand,” said Garnie.

“Similarly, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud have datacentres already set up in Singapore and Indonesia. As more of these sovereign cloud initiatives emerge, we predict organisations will require an increasing awareness of regional security requirements.”

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