Adaire-Fox Martin, Google Cloud’s EMEA President, has shared her industry predictions for the year ahead. These draw on observations from big cloud tech innovation and challenges the market has seen this past year.
The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating in more ways than we can count. The social and economic toll worldwide is unprecedented, with forecasts suggesting European GDP is another year away from pre-pandemic stability. For all the uncertainties of the last two years, it’s no surprise that many are looking to 2022 with recovery in mind. And specifically, that they are looking to the technology industry to drive it.
In the post-COVID-19 global market, open cloud and data analytics solutions will take a central role in the economic bounceback. Data analytics tools and access to public datasets will provide the necessary information, analysis and projections to inform strategy and model economic recovery. We take our role in Europe’s economic recovery seriously. Alongside our partners, we are providing our customers the solutions they need to address the ongoing impact of the pandemic. For example, in expanding its use of Google Workspace, global pharmaceutical firm Roche was able to shift its operations seamlessly to a remote environment and keep employees connected throughout the pandemic. Elsewhere, Google Cloud’s partnership with Groupe Rocher saw the business undertake an extensive IT implementation, boosting its ecommerce initiatives in a period of low consumer confidence.
On top of providing direct solutions to customers, Google Cloud was a founding member of Emergent last year: a new COVID-19 data alliance to support businesses and governments in their recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19. In 2022, we will see a growing number of collaborations, cloud migrations and partnerships take shape, which will enhance the capabilities of data-driven economic recovery exponentially.
Cloud will be central to greener IT practices
At Google Cloud we deeply care about driving greener IT practices, both internally and for our customers, and it has been a key priority for us for some time. In 2020, we pledged to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy in the next decade, and we’re incredibly proud of our progress over the last 12 months. We are also proud to have extended our capabilities to customers, empowering them to address the unique climate challenges of their respective industries and to decarbonise digital applications and infrastructure. Next year, cloud-led innovations will take the fight against climate change to new heights.
According to Accenture, migrations to the public cloud can reduce global CO₂ emissions by 59 million tons per year – equivalent to getting 22 million cars off the road. To achieve this and more, 2022 will see companies innovating and collaborating across sectors to leverage environmentally-friendly cloud services in new and ground-breaking ways. Climate change is a global issue, and through collaboration initiatives like the recently launched 24/7 CFE Compact, companies, organisations and governments are now better equipped to drive the necessary global response.
Trust will be the watchword for big tech
Over the past two years businesses dialled up their digital investment more than ever before, having been forced to adapt and progress more quickly than we might have thought possible. But there’s no doubt that while we saw some impressive changes and new opportunities in the space, we were met with an equal number of new cybersecurity risks. Indeed, between 2020 to 2021, the number of notable cyberattacks against critical European targets doubled, leaving many feeling vulnerable in the new digital landscape. To remain secure as we head into 2022, solutions providers must address these concerns head on, putting trust, privacy and security at the forefront of their offer.
Trust is the ultimate currency, this means established technology companies must do everything in their power to prove their trustworthiness, and emphasise their commitment to protecting users’ privacy and security concerns. Of course, this goes for Google too. Through initiatives like our Cybersecurity Action team, we remain transparent with customers, whilst enhancing data security and privacy to meet demand, and driving secure transformations for organisations worldwide.
Digital sovereignty will prove integral for global innovation
Next year digital sovereignty will become one of the top priorities for European businesses, organisations and governments alike, providing both control and security. With cloud services in any one region always dependent on policy, organisations will turn to open source technologies for the flexibility to deploy or migrate critical workloads across or off public cloud platforms, and protect sensitive data should policy change. Open cloud services that align with the original – networked and connected – vision of the internet will be central to fully realised digital sovereignty across the globe. So much so that Gartner expects public cloud services to be essential for 90% of data and analytics innovation worldwide in 2022.
Solutions built on open source technologies are essential for this process. For instance, technologies like Anthos, a Kubernetes-based platform for multicloud environments, allow customers to benefit from the latest developments in cloud technology on a secure and private platform. Last year, we led sovereign cloud platform developments with partners in both Germany and France, enabling public and private companies to securely host data within their respective countries, while maintaining the flexibility of public cloud services. But this is just the beginning; as the global marketplace continues to grow and diversify, free-flow data, hosted on open cloud, will play an increasingly central role in the development of businesses, organisations and governments worldwide.
Data-to-value businesses will come out on top
In a digital-first society, data reigns supreme. The ability to collect data, withdraw actionable insights and apply them to solve business problems is not only invaluable but essential for the countless businesses prioritising digital transformation. In 2022, businesses large and small will rely on data cloud solutions for previously unworkable transformations, driving material business value in a safe, transparent and secure way.
Of course, many businesses are already doing this. According to research from the Harvard Business Review, these “data-to-value” businesses are leveraging their data to enable real-time analytics capabilities, company-wide information access, automated machine learning for predictive analytics and more. To take one example, telecommunications company and Google Cloud partner, Vodafone, is using data to deliver personalised products and services to customers across Europe. Businesses must follow by example and prioritise a data-to-value imperative in 2022, or risk being left behind.