Embarking on a new year gives organizations the chance to start fresh and make bold changes. This is especially true when it comes to technology — between the rapid pace of innovation and the massive societal upheavals over the past few years, 2022 provides a great opportunity to seize upon industry trends to maintain a robust and well-rounded small or medium-sized business.

Here are four IT predictions for 2022:

Hybrid-optimized workplaces

More than two years into the global pandemic, remote work arrangements are no longer the “new normal” — they’re just normal. And amidst ever-changing public health guidelines and new variants of COVID-19, small and medium-sized businesses have been forced to accept the reality that hybrid work arrangements have become a year-round necessity. According to Robert Half, 51% of all employees surveyed state their preference for hybrid work arrangements, with 33% stating they’d seek out new job opportunities if forced back into the office full-time.

Rather than battle ongoing trends, small and medium-sized businesses will continue to optimize their operations for hybrid working. From an IT perspective, this means investing in laptops or tablets for staff members to use in a home office environment instead of an office network. (This also includes camera and mic upgrades for staff members, to ensure high-quality Teams or Zoom meetings.) Employees will also need to be given tools to work remotely that are highly secure to ensure a high standard of data security and privacy.

Continued Challenges for Returning to In-Person Work

Whether it’s a hybrid arrangement or a full-time return to the office, small and medium-sized businesses must still contend with a range of challenges posed by a workforce that’s grown accustomed to remote life. Not only must businesses address habits gained through having to type up a report at the kitchen table, but they must also be prepared to encounter new technology threats made possible through remote arrangements.

As noted by Deloitte, many organizations are relying on a whole host of solutions to ensure a safe return to the office, including pilot programs to reacclimatize workers, increased communications to keep teams abreast of new policies, and detailed tracking and reporting to maintain public health. Throughout 2022, workplaces will continue to adjust to this reality, modifying shared space areas, such as meeting rooms and huddle spaces, as well as individual workstations to create social-distancing-friendly work arrangements.

This is especially true when it comes to technology — as workers seek to return laptops, smartphones, and other devices once relegated to the home office back to the workplace, companies should be prepared to contend with the potential for viruses and other realities of bring-your-own-device policies.

5G Becoming Mainstream

The fifth generation of mobile networks began rolling out across the U.S. back in 2018. But as with any new technology, it takes time for users to begin adopting solutions at mass. When 5G was first introduced, only a handful of devices were fully 5G capable, and network coverage didn’t quite blanket the entire country.

Times have changed. In 2022, expect 5G to continue proliferating as ultra-wideband and low-band networks continue to expand throughout the country. With 5G-based home internet, which offers high-speed wireless access as an alternative to wired options, users can enjoy a truly wireless experience at home. And with Apple predicted to introduce a low-cost 5G phone in the spring of 2022, it’ll soon become harder to find a mobile device that doesn’t offer 5G access.

Passwordless Authentication

Since the earliest days of computing, the humble password has helped users safeguard personal and private information. But passwords are far from perfect: Too often they’re weak, easy to forget, and frequently reused across different platforms.

Over the past few years, multifactor authentication has become a popular option for additional identity verification, but truly passwordless options appear to be on the horizon for widespread options in 2022. In September 2021, Microsoft introduced the options for users to remove passwords from Microsoft Accounts altogether, allowing access to a user account through an Authenticator app, Windows Hello, physical key, or SMS verification — with no password whatsoever. As users become more accustomed to additional layers of security and verification, companies should be prepared to trade passwords for more secure alternatives.

Take a look back at our 2021 IT Predictions, did any of them come true for your business?

Since 1990, DWD Technology Group has helped clients throughout Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio meet their IT needs. From comprehensive network security to data backup services, DWD has helped small- and medium-sized businesses across a wide range of industries incorporate cloud solutions that are safe, secure, and supported. For a free IT security consultation, contact us today!