With just the Cloud Wars Top 10 very likely to generate $245 billion in cloud revenue for 2021 and $300 billion in 2022, the entire cloud industry has become the unquestioned engine of powering digital innovation and the global economy. So, for 2022, what can business leaders expect from the cloud industry: Price wars? A spate of mergers? A big messy shakeout? A quantum computer in every home?
Now, I’ll admit that some of those questions seem a little preposterous—but one thing we’ve all learned over the past 21 months is how dramatically we need to recalibrate our traditional concepts of what is or is not preposterous, of what is or is not possible, and of the speed at which tumultuous change not only can happen but almost certainly will happen.
And we all need to bear in mind that these upheavals are taking place not in some isolated fringes; no, they’re happening right smack-dab in the middle of—sing it!—the greatest growth market the world has ever known. The repercussions will be massive.
So, it is with great excitement and anticipation for the year to come that I offer up these predictions for what 2022 will bring in the piece below and as downloadable slides. I look forward to seeing your reactions as well as your own forecasts for the craziness that’s sure to come!
1. Industry Clouds, We Hardly Knew Ya!
For the past 15 months, I’ve been fascinated by and an enthusiastic evangelist of the industry-cloud phenomenon. And while the headline above might seem like a repudiation of that enthusiasm, it’s actually quite the opposite: I think the industry-cloud phenomenon will hit with such force and generate such widespread hunger for more that within 2 years, we’ll begin dropping the “industry” part of industry cloud because they’ll be the norm rather than the exception.
2. Microsoft Cloud Revenue Will Blow Past $100 Billion in 2022
Makes your head spin, doesn’t it? Because it was not long ago that many of us were rocked when Microsoft hit $20 billion in cloud revenue. Here calendar 2021, Microsoft has a very good chance to reach $80 billion, which would mean it would need to grow 25% in 2022 to reach $100 billion. But Microsoft Cloud growth has never been less than 30%, and even at their staggering scale, there’s no reason to think that continued growth at that rate is out of reach.
3. Extremely Powerful Cloud Databases Will Go Mainstream
As my dear friend and colleague John Foley has chronicled brilliantly in his nearby Data Revolution coverage, there is tremendous vibrancy, innovation, and competition among more than 20 cloud-database vendors whose products and technology are igniting that data revolution. And for many of them, after years of intense R&D and product engineering, they’re finally unleashing products that are not only fully viable but exquisitely timed to coincide with the rise of the digital acceleration. When business customers have a huge range of high-quality choices for strategic tools like cloud databases, great things are sure to follow because all that competition inevitably produces extraordinary innovation and capability. (You are invited to attend Acceleration Economy’s Cloud Database Battleground to hear about the latest developments and what’s next in this fast-moving market. Registration is free.)
10 Predictions About The 2022 Industry Cloud Reimagination Machine
4. Customers Will Demand Cybersecurity as a Service
While what the world does not need is another 4-letter “XaaS” acronym, the desperate need among corporate customers for more rigorous and end-to-end cybersecurity will push this to the top of list of demands customers are making. Whatever it ends up being called, this incredibly important cloud service will finally assume its rightful role as a category that’s even more essential than the traditional standbys of HCM, CRM, and ERP.
5. Cloud Providers Will Embrace “Voice of the Customer”
I must admit I wince at times when hearing some tech vendors attempt to address business questions or business issues by plunging immediately into product and feature pitches. Hey, every cloud company—large, small, and in-between—has great reason to be terribly proud of its code. But every one of those cloud vendors had better fully internalize in 2022 that 95% of business customers simply don’t care about the code because all of their energy and attention is focused on their own issues: digital acceleration, data-driven processes and insights, and dazzling customers. Vendors that focus their discussions on those 3 issues in 2022 have a fighting chance.
6. Speed Is The Thing
All of the other attributes of a successful business—great people, customer-centric culture, excellent products and services, strong category-positioning, etc.—simply won’t be enough in the Acceleration Economy. Every company in every industry in every region of the world must in 2022 master the art and science of speed: faster aggregation of and access to data, faster analytics, faster decision-making, high-speed operations, the elimination of quicksand bureaucracy, and a culture that inspires every person to push success at not just scale but also at speed.
7. Employee Experience Fuses with Customer Experience
In the years leading up to the pandemic, CEOs across multiple industries became totally fixated on the primacy of customer experiences. And while that’s a noble goal, the nearly 2 years since the pandemic upended our world has certainly pounded into our heads that Employee Experiences are every bit as essential and valuable as Customer Experiences. This always reminds me of an excellent t-shirt a colleague once wore: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
8. The Sustainability Surge
Less waste. More-innovative product development. More timely and intelligent collaboration across not just supply chains but broad stakeholder communities. Cleaner energy without sacrificing performance. Big goals that fire the imagination, attract excellent young minds, and push people to dream bigger dreams. The sustainability conversation often gets overly focused on carbon and/or climate issues, but these outcomes are the inevitable results of fusing business-oriented sustainability goals into every facet of your operations.
9. Quantum Shifts from Dream to Driver
With the cloud as the ideal delivery vehicle, and with intense competition driving a rash of new breakthroughs, I believe that in the second half of 2022 we’ll start to see some real-world applications of quantum technology available through the cloud. While fairly limited relative to the ultimate power of what mature quantum systems will be able to deliver, these first-generation versions will still offer blow-the-hair-back glimpses into what this phenomenally powerful new technology will deliver over the next several years. And to those who think AI and robots are taking over the world, please let me ask: Who conceived and is developing quantum computing—robots or human beings?
10. “Digital Transformation” Hits Retirement Age
I think it’s time that we begin to actively shift our thinking and conversations from “digital transformation” to the new phases (and phrases) that come post-transformation: digital business, digital acceleration, digital economy, digital mindset, digital lifestyle, digital workstyle. With the way our world now works, most midsize and large organizations will be in a constant state of “digital transformation”—it’ll be a permanent state of what Wayne Sadin, our colleague in the Acceleration Economy’s Analyst Network, calls “digital optimization.” Time for us all to resume skating to where the puck’s going, not where it is.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the future and that perhaps something in here has stirred some new thinking for you. We’re looking forward to seeing your reactions and your own predictions.
This article appears in the Predictions 2022 Edition of the Acceleration Economy Journal Download the Full Journal Here