10 Networking Predictions for 2022

Get ready for massive organizational change and tough security challenges.

For networking pros, 2022 will be more of the same – constant challenging and borderline-fundamental changes. Here are some items Progress tech experts and industry analysts think you’ll face in 2022. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Prediction 1: IT Organizational Structures Increasingly Decentralized, Less Hierarchy

Remote workforces networking and other IT pros to be more independent and truly take responsibility. The C-suite and IT leaders grok this and are supporting this trend and moving it forward organizationally.

Gartner believes that by 2024, the rise of self-directed work will mean that 30% of corporate teams will be boss-less. “The role of the manager as the commander-and-controller of work is a major impediment in an era where business agility requires team empowerment and autonomy,” Daryl Plummer, a Gartner Fellow told NetworkWorld. “Planning, prioritizing and organizing work efforts still must happen, but it is essential to decouple ‘management’ from the traditional ‘manager’ role to reap the benefits of business agility and hybrid work.”

Gartner explained this further in its article You'll be Breaking up with Bad Customers and 9 Other Predictions for 2022 and Beyond. “With agile adoption at 30% and hybrid work at 50% of an organization, about one-third of teams can operate without a traditional manager role. The pandemic has driven the increased need for organizational resilience, driving more embedded agility within businesses,” the research house explained. “By definition, agile requires an environment of trust that doesn’t lend itself to traditional hierarchies. The increase in hybrid workforces reveals that a large portion of managers lack the skill set necessary to manage employees in remote or hybrid situations, and only 47% percent of employees believe that their manager can lead the team to success in the future.”  

Prediction 2: IT Moves to Strategy-First

The IT press and analyst community has long talked about shifting IT focus from keeping things running to making things better – that is, from a tactical and problem-solving focus to a strategic and business-building focus. This will finally start to happen more earnestly according to IDC. “By 2023, mid-sized to large enterprises will transition 50% of IT staff, driving connectedness from tactical legacy network support operations towards strategic business outcomes, technology innovation and service delivery,” IDC argues in its Future of Connectedness 2022 Predictions blog.

Prediction 3: Remote Work Creates New Breach Opportunities

Workers are increasingly on their own, connecting over personal networks less secure than corporate headquarters by orders of magnitude. These personal networks are an easy ingress point to the corporate network. Hackers know this is and will be employing multiple approaches to use remote workers’ networks to attack the organization.

Besides attacking home users’ networks, hackers will target devices such as personal laptops and tablets that lack corporate-grade security such as firewalls, anti-malware and patch and software updates.

With IT itself being largely remote (you can’t walk down the hall and ask them a question anymore), it is easier for hackers to use social engineering (posing as IT, for instance) to finagle credentials from unsuspecting remote employees.

Prediction 4: Remote Workforces Drive New Connectivity Demands

IT will continue to face the challenges of supporting a mostly remote workforce since, let’s face it, no one is coming back to the office any time soon. Because of this, speedy and reliable connectivity is more vital than ever. So too is robust bandwidth a must for a great videoconferencing experience and other remote services.

Prediction 5: Hackers Go After Network Gear

It is no surprise that cyberattacks traverse the network. But hackers will step up attacks on the network and network elements themselves. If they can damage network devices, they can cripple business operations. And if they commandeer these devices, they can control the network and infiltrate deeper.

Prediction 6: Zero Trust Rises as Privilege Attacks Multiply

IT realizes they must lock down every aspect of the network and only allow access on a must-need basis. Segmentation and even micro-segmentation is the rule to prevent damage from attacks such as ransomware. Zero trust is the new watchword. Trust nothing. Protect everything.

Prediction 7: Network Resilience is Everything

Network outages not only take down the business, but they also leave a lasting stain on its reputation. The increasing sophistication of hackers (even Microsoft and Amazon cloud services have fallen victim) means outages are here to stay, IDC believes. “By 2025, G2000 organizations are still experiencing two to three systemic service provider network outages per year, showcasing the importance of added investments in connectivity redundancy and service resiliency,” the researchers argue in the Future of Connectedness 2022 Predictions blog.

What is new is enterprises’ increased focus on business continuity at all costs. “In 2022, more than 30% of organizations will prioritize connectivity resiliency to ensure business continuity, resulting in uninterrupted digital engagement for customers, employees, and partners,” the research house predicts.

Prediction 8: Application Experience Moves to the Forefront

Smart IT and network pros are pushing a new mantra – application experience (AX) matters and is worth fighting for. In 2022, there will be a hard IT lean towards AX as organizations realize that availability is now table stakes and they need to pay attention to how their end-users experience their systems.

Vendors face the same issue, as they increasingly realize end-users are always weighing the pain of using their product against the hassle and expense of going to someone else’s – and that hassle is decreasing steadily.

Prediction 9: HR and IT Hiring Managers Will Have a Busy 2022

Tech employee churn will rile the IT waters. IT pros have had 18 months to reflect on what’s important and they’re now voting with their feet. The tech sector is booming and jobs are easier than ever to find. Retention is going to become a major challenge in the face of the Great Resignation that’s currently happening. Organizations need to examine how they’re compensating employees (not just financially), or they’re going to see a brain drain.

Corporate values matter. Tech talent is going to be warier than ever of joining your organization if it’s perceived as contrary to their values. And if they do join a sketchy place, it’s going to be just for the paycheck; they’ll walk the second they get a better offer from a company that DOES have better street cred.

Prediction 10: Politics an Ever-Stickier Wicket

Politics is now everyone’s business. Before, you could play it neutral and leave politics as one of the things not to be discussed at the office (along with sex and religion). Now, if your employee does something offensive online and it goes viral, you are expected to act ASAP. Similarly, you’re going to be pressured by activists based on who you partner with, invest in, and purchase from. Corporate lip service addressing issues like environmentalism, diversity, and the like is no longer enough.

There’s a very fine line to be walked between outraging your customers and business as usual. From a networking perspective, this means you need to know more about how your employees are using your network and what they’re doing on it. It’s one thing to decline to fire an employee who goes on a racist rant on his own Facebook account— quite another when it comes from your own corporate Twitter account.

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