While some trends can be influenced by people and go viral almost instantly thanks to social media, technology trends are often driven by perceived gaps or challenges identified over time and take significant time and investment to develop, validate and bring to market.
That formula changed in March 2020 when overnight, we were suddenly spending more time online at home than ever before, and technology became essential to maintaining our “normal” day-to-day functions—and sanity. It kept us connected to the outside world and brought the conveniences of the outside world right to our doorstep.
The pandemic turned numerous industries and public services on their head as they were forced to adapt to our altered reality, but fortunately, many had already spent years leveraging technology to solve real-world problems or disrupt well-established industries. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the technology trends we expect to see more of in 2022 and beyond.
Health tech and wellness
Over the past two years, no other sector has changed more than healthcare. We’ve seen a proliferation of health technologies, and new ways of delivering healthcare and wellness around the world transforming both the patient experience and the speed at which new technologies are being adopted.
According to Jon Wolkin, investment director at TELUS Ventures, capital is flowing into start-ups and companies that are moving the needle to solve and balance the complex challenges of coordinating all aspects of patient care—from physical and mental health, managing medications and chronic conditions, to nutrition and exercise—now available both in person and virtually.
While the need to visit practitioners in person will never go away, the door is wide open for health technologies that are focused on optimizing a hybrid healthcare experience, offering both convenience and improved access to care. We can also expect to see the emergence of more companies and solutions helping to streamline and digitize the entire continuum of care for patients.
E-commerce and online marketplaces
When Amazon got its start selling books online in 1994, Jeff Bezos himself probably never would have imagined that the e-commerce company incubated in his garage would become one of the most important brands in North America, if not the world.
When the pandemic hit, the overnight shift to online commerce was something none of us could have expected. Companies and industries that had already invested in getting their businesses online were lucky. Others scrambled to adopt e-commerce and get their inventory and services online quickly, just to survive.
Is e-commerce and the rise of online marketplaces here to stay? We think most are confident they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. From food or grocery delivery to shopping for big and bulky items like a new couch, some think we’re only at the early stages of what our shopping experiences will be like down the road.
According to Deloitte, our next normal is a hybrid work model rooted in flexibility and choice. Outside the obvious benefits of saving time, money and emissions, remote work—grounded in trust—means that employees can choose when they work and do what they need to do to balance their health, family and well-being.
As we shifted to remote (or hybrid) work, so did the events industry. There are elements of an in-person event that could never be replicated online: the energy you get from being around others in your tribe or community, the learning and inspiration gained from a speaker live on stage, and the connections or collisions that only seem to happen in person. But the progress made in enhanced video conferencing technologies (i.e. Zoom) and the emergence of a new crop of virtual event platforms allowed us to rethink events and conferences. These platforms are facilitating networking in breakout rooms, replicating tradeshow floors, fostering virtual connections and can even bring in remote speakers through hologram technology.
The transformational shift of traditional work and events models has paved the way for further innovation that enables continuity regardless of where you are and what you do.
Agtech, climate tech and purpose-driven solutions
All around us we see floods, fires, drought and other extreme weather events threatening the sustainability, productivity and security of our food systems. Excessive waste and disposal of food and byproducts by major industries continue to contribute to climate change. These challenges are giving rise to investments in agriculture and climate technologies that are addressing some of the most pressing issues facing communities today. Industry, governments and academia alike are coming together with a commitment to foster innovation in climate tech and impact-driven companies with strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles. In February 2022, Sustainable Technology Development Canada (SDTC) announced a $52.3 million investment into 16 companies working on innovations to combat climate change.
There is a growing need for solutions given the shrinking timeline we have to address climate change. Recent years have seen a growth in the number of programs incubating socially minded startups and impact-driven investment funds fueling their growth. Helping these companies innovate and grow sooner will allow them to have a bigger impact in mitigating negative outcomes. It also encourages more people to build on ideas they might have, bringing us closer to a more robust climate tech ecosystem.
Crypto, Web3 and other frontier technologies
There’s a new group of passionate leaders who have come out to show support for emerging technologies with the potential to put Canada’s innovation sector even further on the world stage. The Frontier Collective is the first organization to formally represent and advance the interests of fast-growing technologies, including Web3, the metaverse, VR/AR, AI, climate tech, and creative industries such as eSports, NFTs, VFX, and animation. According to the collective, these technologies have the potential to impact every existing industry.
Cryptocurrencies made a big splash at Super Bowl LVI as a number of crypto-related companies invested in television spots in an expensive effort to redefine the global financial system and “win over” mainstream consumers. Though the sharp rises and falls of coin prices associated with the speculative nature of crypto investing continue to dominate the headlines, the tide is shifting towards more sustainable (and even-keeled) business ventures—from travel, to finance, to security and privacy. According to Alan Dunton, managing director at NATIONAL’s sister agency, SHIFT Communications, “most industries will at least explore how the blockchain can evolve the state of the art of how they build the underlying systems that power their businesses as well as empower new safer and more agile interactions with their customers.”
So what else?
Technology has proliferated every industry and public service and we’ve only begun to understand the potential it has to shape our future. We’ve touched on a few tech trends observed in 2022 to date, but what about others from quantum computing, water-tech, cleantech, proptech, and more? NATIONAL’s Technology experts can help you navigate these trends and understand how they impact your organization. Contact us to learn more.
——— Lindsay Chan is a former Vice-President at NATIONAL Public Relations