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Picture this.

The year is 1980, with big hair and bold and bright clothes.  The cassette tape, boom boxes, and having your very own telephone in your room were big deals.  But thanks to one eccentric neighbor you find yourself in the 50s and watching your parents as teenagers when phones were shared and music was from the radio or jukebox, and you are fighting for existence.

Recognize the story?

To understand the future, we have to know where we’ve been.  Just like Back to the Future where Marty McFly has to ensure his existence by making sure his parents meet and fall in love, certain foundational events had to occur for our technology to be what it is today.

Let’s go “back to the future” and see where technology was a decade ago in 2012.

Mobile devices, apps, cloud services, the internet of things, and big data 

Hard to believe that the smartphone is 15 years old now, with the first Apple iPhone debuting in 2007.  And 5 years after its release, 1.5 billion devices were set to ship to new users, and mobile data spending passed fixed data spending for the first time in history.  The rest, as we say, IS history.  Now, mobile devices and mobile applications are a fixture of our lives, and one we can’t fathom living without.

2012 was also the year that cloud services hit their stride as the popularity of services like Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and Netflix gained momentum and business began shifting from self-built, local systems to cloud subscription platforms.  It was in this year that big data became a part of our vernacular with double-digit growth, and pressure grew to apply analytics and business intelligence applications on top of existing business databases.

As the use of social media, such as Facebook, soared in the years prior to 2012 and businesses began to recognize the benefits of enabling ad-hoc social interactions to build culture and community within their businesses.  Facebook set goals to become the business-to-consumer platform of choice.

Embedded systems, wifi enabled appliances, entertainment devices (think Alexa or Google Home), and industrial M2M devices are just some of the latest technologies to hit the shelves in the last decade and by 2014, outnumbered traditional IT devices connecting to networks and the way we shop changed from brick-and-mortar to mobile apps. Businesses were forced to adapt and develop mobile applications to keep their customer base.

Current State of the Industry in 2022

Today things like smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and the connected home are just part of our everyday lives, and we don’t think about them much (unless they stop working.)  Now, looking forward, industry analysts from SG Analytics believe the following items will be the next technology that changes the digital landscape:

From capturing real human emotion to enhancing the experience of attendees in hybrid meeting rooms, AI (Artificial Intelligence) has enabled businesses to maintain their productivity in spite of the challenges and massive changes since the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted life as we knew it.  SG Analytics states that “Whether it’s an industry or a job function, AI-powered solutions are making life easier,” and that soon, AI-driven technology will be everywhere.

As we, as a society, become more conscious of how we use the earth’s resources, customers have begun to demand the use of sustainable products and practices, causing businesses to see technology development in a new way.  By diverting attention towards recyclable materials that are biodegradable, business practices that include recycling and supply chain optimization are key aspect of business strategy.  Moving forward, the role of technology will continue to help businesses neutralize their carbon footprint and impact the environment.

Also in 2022, the metaverse will become reality.  From work to play and socializing, analysts predict that immersive virtual experiences will become indistinguishable from reality.

One of the benefits realized by technological advances was the boundaries of our world began to shrink.  In 2022 it is expected that these boundaries will become even less pronounced as businesses begin pursuing virtual meeting rooms and events moving forward.  The physical presence is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and businesses will be able to increase their talent pool to far-off places and working from anywhere and everywhere will be at their core.

Another lesson the COVID-19 pandemic taught us is that even medical care can be performed virtually – and 2022 is predicted to continue the acceleration of telehealth.

Toto – We Aren’t in Kansas Any More

We all know that technology changes and fast.  New innovations continue to revolutionize our lives, and living like the Jetsons is probably not that far away.  All of these rapid changes can seem disorienting, like getting caught in a tornado and sent to an alternate world, but like Dorothy, there are resources to help lead us forward and continue to win.

A Note From Mike

How many of us remember watching the Flintstones followed by the Jetsons during Saturday morning cartoons?  Have you ever marveled at the massive differences in how they used technology to solve different challenges?  Fred Flintstone may not have had a mechanical engine – but he had two legs and four wheels, and boy did he get to where he needed to go, while George Jetson could conjure up food at the press of a button and arrived at work in a flying car.  Either way they maximized the use of the technology available to them at the time and very successfully at that.

Whether your technology is in the stone age or in the space age, it shapes our businesses and our lives. The challenge just may be how do we continue to work together to make it all come together.

Mike Skinner, CPA, CITP

Principal Consultant

Schedule time with me.