Business leaders faced a number of challenges in the rapidly changing landscape of enterprise networking this past year. Although enterprises have acclimated by building more robust networks, there are still a number of advancements in communications, networking speed, flexibility, and technology that have yet to find their full potential.
Enterprises should expect advancements driven by hyperautomation, artificial intelligence (AI), SASE, and more in the upcoming year. To help understand these emerging trends, we’ve laid out seven of the top networking developments to watch for in 2022.
Hyperautomation is essentially the identification and automation of as many processes as possible. Many of the solutions adopted under the umbrella of hyperautomation are driven by AI and machine learning (ML).
In fact, the development of hyperautomation is already being seen through the rise of robotic process automation (RPA) tools. These solutions allow you to employ bots and automate simple, routine processes within various software applications. In a way, RPAs signal the potential of hyperautomation moving forward.
The two primary advantages of hyperautomation are employee upskilling and business efficiency. Because many automated solutions are increasingly low- or no-code, advanced techniques are opened up to the everyday user. This brings a general upskilling across all enterprise employees.
In the same vein, because your employees have access to more advanced technologies, business operations become more efficient. Employees can empathize with different departments and their pain points to increase this efficiency even more.
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As enterprise businesses continue to leverage hyperautomation in different facets of their operations, solutions built with AI will be a priority.
AI finds three main applications for enterprise businesses:
- Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity tools are one of the fastest growing applications for AI. Enterprises are finding these solutions more important now than ever due to concerns around 5G cybersecurity.
- Task automation: As we previously mentioned, many AI-driven automation solutions, such as RPAs, are growing in popularity for enterprises. They are a precursor to the full potential AI-based automation holds.
- Virtual assistants: Virtual assistants are one of the more practical ways enterprises continue to leverage AI in their business operations. Sales and customer service teams use them to automate and learn from customer support.
With the advancement and standardization of 5G comes the idea of 5G-powered businesses — essentially businesses that leverage 5G for their operations.
5G promises faster and more flexible ways to connect with one another. It will also likely advance the amount of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is one of the most actionable benefits 5G provides for enterprises, who can provide and offer services that would’ve previously been too expensive to operate. Although IoT devices can bring a tectonic shift to enterprise networking, the benefits of 5G will also bring with them cybersecurity concerns.
Software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) are the modernization of the traditional WAN infrastructure. And, as 41 million U.S. employees are projected to work remotely for the next five years, SD-WAN will continue to grow.
This is because SD-WAN allows for more flexible and efficient remote operations. In fact, businesses are encouraged to adopt multiple transport options through SD-WAN as cloud infrastructures continue to advance. The primary reason many enterprises are adopting SD-WAN is its increased stability and lower operational costs.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architectures are similar to SD-WAN. Their greatest advantage, however, comes in their ability to increase enterprise visibility.
One of the main consequences of the shift to remote work was the loss in company-wide visibility key stakeholders faced. In a sense, business leaders lost a grasp of company operations due to remote work.
SASE counters this by allowing businesses to manage users and track network traffic in real time. Again, just like the rapid adoption of SD-WAN, enterprise businesses should track the rise of the SASE market due to the future of remote work. This visibility is also a big reason why SASE offers an additional layer of security.
Read also: Networking 101: Understanding SASE
Because so many other technologies and advancements, such as hyperautomation, AI, and 5G, all have security implications, cybersecurity will be a main topic for enterprises.
One of the main reasons cybersecurity will trend is due to the sheer amount of data businesses are dealing with. Traditional IT departments are beginning to implement AIOps to deal with this amount of data. AIOps, alongside the rise of data democratization, could help mitigate cybersecurity threats by opening up analysis to a wider breadth of departments.
However, this conversely means that any breach could be detrimental for enterprises due to the vast amount of customer data cyberattackers could gain access to.
Another point of vulnerability for enterprises is in their adoption of 5G networking. 5G cybersecurity is a growing concern for many enterprises and has even been addressed by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, whomaintains that enterprises must adopt a “new cyber duty of care.” They must also adopt new business standards to mitigate any risks.
Ultimately, questions surrounding cybersecurity must stay at the forefront going into 2022.
Finally, just as unified communications and collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have grown during the pandemic, so shall new frontiers for communication in the metaverse.
The metaverse refers to online spaces where humans can interact in a more engaging and immersive way compared to our existing modes of communications. With the rise of other blockchain technologies such as cryptocurrency, the metaverse has become a main topic of discussion for enterprises.
Enterprises can expect three main benefits as the metaverse grows:
- Unique modes of customer and business relations
- New currencies and transactions, such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs
- Streamlined remote employee communications.
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