The State of Tech: 4 Trends to Watch in 2022

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

With hundreds of active clients and projects each year, MentorMate is in an excellent position to share our perspective on what’s happening across different industries, technology stacks, and business environments from startup to enterprise. Forecasts from industry analysts may be useful for setting your longer-term strategy, but they aren’t quite as helpful for understanding how to get things done in our current reality.

Where Did All the People Go?

While the technology labor shortage is hardly new, we’ve never seen such broad and deep demand for all talent across all specialties. The rapid digital transformation forced worldwide is undoubtedly a key driver. Still, even after companies met those short-term imperatives, they recognized that the work had just begun. Technology is an enabler. But you also have to follow through in realizing better end-to-end digital experiences and doing the hard work of internal processing reengineering to realize the benefits fully.

While we’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s now clear to declare that the option of remote technology work is here to stay for everyone. Reality forced us all to adopt the remote work style. While it’s certainly not ideal for many people and circumstances, enabling remote participation is key to making distributed teams work. We believe that shift is permanent even as offices reopen, ours included.

According to CompTIA, there were nearly 250,000 new tech jobs created in the U.S. in 2021, resulting from almost 4 million job openings in tech occupation jobs in 2020. Cybersecurity is the fastest-growing specialty with growth rates of over 30%, but based on our experience, demand for general technical skills is growing at a robust 20%+ rate.

While this opens up the opportunity to put talent to work in many different locales, there are still some challenges to overcome with timezones and employment law. Most companies cannot manage such details for themselves across a growing remote workforce. Sure, you might get lucky and find the right person with the right skills in the right geography, but it’s not realistic to scale up and retain a larger engineering organization that way.

People need onboarding and training. Junior talent needs coaching and development. Mobile, web, and server technologies need upskilling. This work is an ongoing process as the market remains hot for the foreseeable future. Only the largest engineering organizations have the scale to make this kind of continuous investment. We have seen many try with high salaries and short-term success only to unravel with turnover.

Human-Centered Design, Composable Architectures, and Citizen Builders

Platform and managed service vendors continue to roll out better solutions to the people shortage challenges presented above. While writing custom code to create a new product or service is often necessary to meet your business requirements, modern low-code or no-code platforms usually provide a viable complement, especially for line-of-business applications.

Custom and off-the-shelf microservices cover the complexity of security, scalability, and data isolation and integrate into complex workflows through orchestration. The relatively low technical barrier to entry allows us to tap into an additional source of talent for building significant parts of the solution. In the process, it puts marketing and business analysts, product managers, and operations leaders, and staff to work creating the reports, dashboards, content, and even apps that they need to run their business.

To do this right, companies are starting with good Human-Centered Design research. Lacking this, you’ll find yourself asking your users to tolerate the user experience that was fastest to create rather than the one that actually meets their needs. But once those goals and expectations are known, clients seek out managed services that already implement significant portions of the underlying functionality needed and integrate these services into one system.

One important note — building a blended solution of managed services and custom code takes good enterprise architectural oversight. Most organizations show a strong bias towards either “buy” or “build.” A balanced approach takes extra effort and discipline. But we see clients making these choices to ease their dependency on scarce technical resources and get the speed, agility, and cost savings that come from using managed services.

The Rise of Data

The most common impediment to the composable architecture and citizen builder trend is accessing the data itself. Too many legacy systems lack useful APIs to provide the needed access or don’t readily support a data lake or warehouse solution for aggregating data into one place. That lack of support leaves the citizen report builders and data scientists with no way to act on that data.

Fortunately, the public clouds and managed services that run on them (like Snowflake) all provide excellent data engineering infrastructure for solving such problems in a scalable way. That said, there’s still a significant data engineering effort to safely and securely aggregate and cleanse the data in the warehouse. In some cases, this even includes de-identifying the information due to compliance concerns. Even in the case of HIPAA-compliant data, our clients increasingly turn to the public clouds for these solutions.

Once the data has been rationalized and enriched, your citizen data scientists can unleash low code data visualization tools like PowerBI. The results you achieve now depend on the quality of the data on which it rests. So for your data scientists and business to trust the reports, they have to also believe that the underlying information is coherent. That coherent data ultimately drives the business case for building the data lake/warehouse.

Digital Transformation and the Mobile User Experience

Lots of investment is flowing into digital transformation to better support mobile and remote use cases. Initial efforts were tactical responses to pandemic needs. Now, these same industries are using Human-Centered Design to re-examine the whole service experience as they adapt to a permanent shift in how people want to find and use their services. These transformations can be complex as they require new system integrations and change management as they roll out and train people to use the new workflows, but they also modernize how we work.

This trend has brought a new surge in mobile development work that compounds the shortage of talent in this area. Large enterprises can offer high salaries to swallow up relatively small, local talent pools, but there is insufficient supply. Native development for iOS and Android is growing fast again at similar rates. However, many organizations are committed to using ReactNative as a cross-platform alternative. That expands the available talent pool to include React/JavaScript/TypeScript developers who can also build the user interface.

The new “hotness” to watch is Flutter (sponsored by Facebook) which is getting attention but has not generated much actual demand yet, and Xamarin remains a distant but stable presence. From our practical perspective, ReactNative remains the most confident choice to make for overall value, assuming you can still achieve the user experience that consumers expect.

Original post found here.

Authored by Craig Knighton:

Happiness for Craig is building successful products with collaborative teams. For him, there is magic to be found at the intersection of business and technology. Craig helps clients nurture new ideas, often in healthcare, and to plan scalable mobile and SaaS architectures. He aims to determine how organizations can successfully implement new technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud architectures.

An electrical engineer with an MBA and a 25-year career as a software developer, clients — from startups to enterprises — look to Craig for his technical and strategic expertise. His previous titles include VP of Engineering, VP of Engineering and Technical Operations, VP of Development at Gearworks, LiquidSpace, and Spok, respectively.

Long interested in improving patient experiences through the thoughtful application of software, Craig is actively involved in founding a non-profit charitable organization that will deliver technology solutions that facilitate better services for children with special health needs. In the past Craig volunteered in the emergency department at Coon Rapids Mercy Hospital.

When he isn’t helping businesses build innovative solutions, Craig enjoys his view of the Mississippi River or taking his Harley Davidson for a ride.

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