The Tech Trends That Will Shape Austin in 2022

2022 is right around the corner, and we’re taking bets on the tech trends that will be front and center.
Written by Michael Hines
December 2, 2021Updated: December 6, 2021

“Silicon Hills” is not a clever marketing slogan designed to lure residents of the Bay Area to Austin. It’s a reference to the fact that, like the Bay Area, Texas’ capital is home to innovative tech companies, from the homegrown giant Dell to the recently arrived Tesla. As such, when it comes to forecasting the “next big thing” in technology, Austin’s engineering and business leaders have just as much to say as anyone in Silicon Valley. We know because we recently spoke with six of them about the tech trends they plan to watch closely in 2022.

From the impact of smart contracts on the financial system to artificial intelligence-powered website personalization, these are the tech trends Austin companies are keeping a close eye on.

 

James Alvarez
Global CIO

As a global gaming company with more than 7,000 employees in a world where remote work is increasingly becoming an expectation and not a nice-to-have, it only makes sense that Aristocrat CIO James Alvarez plans to keep a close eye on technology that is related to remote collaboration, engagement and talent development. Alvarez gave Built In Austin a brief overview of his company’s “future of talent” plan and the tech he believes will be crucial to enabling Aristocrat and others to develop and maximize their employees’ skills in a remote world.

 

What’s one tech trend you’ll be watching closely in 2022?

The pandemic has changed the way employees and businesses think about a myriad of complex issues: the employee-employer relationship, expectations for flexible work arrangements, the competition for increasingly scarce talent and the skills and capabilities required to compete and succeed in this new world. One important tech trend to watch will be the solutions that provide internal skills marketplaces to discover and unlock talent, wherever that talent may be. 

Historically, career opportunities and success were built from networks and performance measured by in-person relationships and interactions. In the virtual workplace, how will we find the best talent, and how does that talent differentiate themselves and compete? As CIOs, our jobs are central to bridging these complex challenges with new technology solutions that transform what, where and how we work, that engage and enhance an anywhere, anytime workforce and that replace previously office-based structures with new virtual frameworks that continue to bond employees to each other and the business while maximizing their experience and productivity.

Future talent platforms must leverage organic UX methods to capture and maintain the skills an employee brings and acquires.
 

How do you plan to apply this technology to your work in 2022 (or beyond)?

We’ve always believed that people are a major pillar of our success. “Talent unleashed” is a core value reflective of our commitment to provide the maximum opportunity for our people to realize their full potential, which exponentially benefits our business and our customers, in addition to our employees. 

In this spirit, we’ve recently begun our “future of talent” journey, which explores the frameworks, structures, policies and technologies that provide the metaphoric “tap” into our well of talent. The first step is knowing what talent you have, beyond just job titles and functional structures. This is where technology plays a key role. Future talent platforms must leverage organic UX methods to capture and maintain the skills an employee brings and acquires in their personal and professional lives.

Data intelligence also plays a critical role in facilitating the proper mining and matching of our global talent to their most valuable uses. We believe these technologies will be foundational to maximizing our employee’s potential and providing next-level career growth and development opportunities to our people.

 

If it seems like digital transformation has been a tech trend forever, it’s because in many industries, the process has just begun or is far from complete. This is especially true in logistics, where many companies still communicate with suppliers using cutting-edge tech from the 1990s like email and spreadsheets. Tom Kieley is the CEO of SourceDay, whose software is designed to make it easier for companies to communicate with suppliers and manage orders and invoices. He detailed how the tech his team has developed will help companies accelerate their digital evolutions in 2022.

 

What’s one tech trend you’ll be watching closely in 2022?

Believe it or not, digital transformation remains one of the most prevalent tech trends now and in the immediate future. I know it seems like we’ve digitally transformed and fully embraced new technology, but there are many, many industries that continue to lag behind. The supply chain industry particularly, while making solid strides to advance, is still antiquated in many facets. It is absolutely business critical for heads of procurement and chief supply chain officers to evaluate how the integration of artificial intelligence solutions and new data insights can fuel their organizations’ digital transformation strategies. 

You simply cannot achieve impactful digital transformation without fully embracing artificial intelligence solutions. Supply chain leaders in particular must adopt advanced data insights to create crucial transparency in their first and last miles. With shortages and rising costs plaguing every industry — especially as we enter the peak holiday shopping season — 2022 is the year to do what we’ve been saying we need to do for the last five to 10 years: digitally transform!

You simply cannot achieve impactful digital transformation without fully embracing artificial intelligence solutions.


How do you plan to apply this technology to your work in 2022 (or beyond)?

Our data science team has been busy translating the millions of collaborative data points from our portfolio of customers into actionable executive insights. Our clients will now have access to a one-stop-shop dashboard featuring trends in lead times, supplier collaboration status, costs, supply chain performance and much more. Historically, this data has been buried in handwritten notes, spreadsheets or anecdotes from employees. Now, supply chain leaders can achieve the level of visibility they need to optimize relationships with suppliers and ultimately improve their end user experience.

 

Dan Burton
VP, Engineering

Cryptocurrency has captured the majority of the conversation around blockchain in 2021, but there are many other applications of the technology, like smart contracts, which are stored on a blockchain and automatically executed once specific conditions are met. Dan Burton, VP of engineering at trading regtech company Eventus Systems, said he’ll be keeping a close eye on the evolution of smart contracts in ‘22.

 

What’s one tech trend you’ll be watching closely in 2022?

Smart contracts. I’m looking forward to seeing the continued evolution of new and unique decentralized financial systems based on smart contracts, along with how they can be employed to introspect and analyze those systems themselves and even how they can help bridge the gaps between the digital and physical worlds. We’re already seeing activity around NFTs, for instance, which is in some sense an entirely new asset class enabled by smart contracts.

I expect to see the capabilities of smart contracts and related systems continue to evolve.


What impact do you think this trend will have on your industry in particular?

In 2022, I expect to see the capabilities of smart contracts and related systems continue to evolve and provide further capabilities around transferring physical assets or observing or affecting changes in the physical world. I also expect to see financial technology firms continue to adopt, develop and invest in various smart contract-based tokens or other systems and to see more applications that connect traditional finances to digital. I also expect we’ll see some consolidation in this space as some tokens overtake others in market and mindshare.

 

Keith Dezern
Chief Revenue Officer

Currently, personalization on websites is largely user-driver, with custom experiences served up after a user has told a site what interests them. Keith Dezern, chief revenue officer at Engagency, an enterprise web development company specializing in Sitecore, told Built In that this process could become more intelligent — and more seamlessly integrated into the internet experience — in 2022 thanks to artificial intelligence.

 

What’s one tech trend you’ll be watching closely in 2022?

The emergence of AI to personalize websites. For years, people have been talking about how personalization is transitioning from a one-to-many to one-to-one process. I think 2022 will be the year that we finally see that one-to-one aspect of personalization materialize where experiences are personalized in real time to the individual user.

I think 2022 will be the year that we finally see that one-to-one aspect of personalization.


How do you plan to apply this technology to your work in 2022 (or beyond)?

Most of today’s market-leading digital experience platforms, like Optimizely and Sitecore, have matured to a point where this personalization is built in. Now, the onus is on companies to determine how to leverage it. At Engagency, we love helping clients with this part of the puzzle.

It’s exciting to help our clients unlock these pieces of functionality and think through how they can apply it to their particular customer journey and user base. It’s also gratifying to be by their side as they start getting the hang of it and see how it directly impacts their business in a powerful and positive way.

 

Morten Moeller
Chief Product Officer

People are more online than ever due to the pandemic, and this has naturally shifted consumer expectations around interacting with businesses, something Morten Moeller, chief product officer at RealWork Labs, is keenly aware of. RealWork Labs’ software helps small business owners who provide services like electrical work, pest control and landscaping drive organic growth powered by word of mouth. Moeller said he plans to monitor how consumer expectations develop in 2022 to ensure that the small businesses RealWork serves are able to meet increased expectations around digital communication and services.

 

What’s one tech trend you’ll be watching closely in 2022?

How the pandemic changed our way of communicating and interfacing with people and technology. Almost everything we do at work or how we interact with people, goods and services has changed in some way, from buying cars and groceries to how we spend our work and spare time. As we get back to normal, some of these new technologies and functions are conveniences we will continue to use. What will be interesting in 2022 is how much of these trends stick versus go back to normal.

Peoples expectation for digital in the entire customer lifecycle has skyrocketed.

How do you plan to apply this technology to your work in 2022 (or beyond)?

People have gotten used to using their phone for everything during the pandemic, and their expectation for digital in the entire customer lifecycle has skyrocketed. We will be keeping a close eye on the importance of continuing to have digital services and communication, even for smaller businesses as larger service companies have a lot of resources and can build out their own digital experience. At RealWork Labs, we are helping the smaller guys keep up with the technology and trends to keep the playing field level.

 

Nam Szeto
Director Product Management

All Web Leads is a marketing company that helps the insurance industry reach more consumers and issue more policies. Nam Szeto, director of product management, told Built In that in 2022 he will be paying close attention to the digital savviness of seniors and how that impacts the buying journey around Medicare.

 

What’s one tech trend you’ll be watching closely in 2022?

The buying journey of insurance shoppers, specifically for Medicare Supplement Insurance and Advantage Plans.

The insurance industry will want to continue to track the buying behavior of seniors and turn insight into action.

What impact do you think this trend will have on your industry in particular?

I think seniors are increasingly becoming digitally savvy with more and more doing research online versus exclusively relying on a human for advice. The [insurance] industry will want to continue to track the buying behavior of seniors and turn insight into action.

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