Good afternoon! This time of year is full of pieces about predictions, so we wanted to put our own Braintrust spin on the yearly tradition of trying to look around the corner. With today's edition, we asked experts from around the world of tech to think about the prediction that they were personally most confident would come true in the year to come. And that's a wrap on the Braintrust newsletter for 2021, so thank you very much to you all for reading along this year! See you next year!
Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Canva
The visual economy boom will continue as teams of every size across almost every industry tackle the ever-changing future of work which the pandemic has accelerated. 2022 gives us many reasons for hope as the world opens back up, but flexibility is still going to be the most valuable skill that we’ll be exercising. In this hybrid, WFH, distributed and asynchronous situation, visual communication will be a secret superpower. The way we communicate is no longer limited to just words: It’s now about photos, illustrations, videos and even sound. The digital evolution has powered a visual revolution. From engaging infographics and compelling pitch decks to video tutorials and beautiful bar charts, visual communication lets us recapture the scarce attention of our customers and teammates in order to win their hearts and minds.
Despite the near-term negative outlook in public markets, digital health will continue to see innovation and investment from early-stage investors in 2022. In particular, focus may turn to more under-served sectors (e.g., women's health) and markets (e.g., Medicaid) — which, despite underinvestment, make up a significant portion of the population and health care costs and are responsible for driving individual and population health outcomes. We will see a shift toward more community-oriented solutions that effectively engage patients (i.e., consumers) while interfacing and integrating with providers and payers.
Today, your financial profile is more than just your FICO score. Looking ahead, even traditional lenders will be enticed to move toward using a fuller picture of financial data to make a holistic profile of users, not using traditional means of credit scoring. ML-powered cash flow underwriting and transactions history analysis will help lenders build fairer, inclusive and more robust profiles — and consumers will be able to port those profiles wherever they want, making lending both more approachable and more competitive (read: cheaper for consumers) than it’s ever been. A lot of this is already happening with things like Project REACh led by the OCC and a move from the largest U.S. banks to start sharing data on consumer deposit accounts to extend credit to more people with low credit or thin files. The foundational pieces are there, so we expect there to be a lot more concrete movement here going into 2022.
SVP and Chief Information and Technology Officer at Lexmark
Today, across the IoT landscape, there are different types of solutions, from commercially available ones to those developed in-house. In 2022, I believe we’ll see a shakeout from the pandemic and consolidation of the industry, with companies placing greater pressure on tightly integrating enterprise IoT projects to key business outcomes. Organizations that don’t want to risk building their own IoT/data analytics solutions will partner with experts armed with proven platforms to help them realize predictable, repeatable and measurable business outcomes from IoT data. Interestingly, according to a recent IDC study commissioned by Lexmark, manufacturers that deployed commercial IoT platforms reported greater satisfaction (79%) than those that built their own (60%), demonstrating how expertise can play an integral role in helping derive value from IoT.
I also believe we’ll continue to see greater convergence of IoT with AI and machine-learning models, so that organizations will become less reactive and more proactive and predictive. The outcome will be greater efficiency and lower costs, which will give way to a better customer experience. IDC found that although 50% of manufacturers plan to launch predictive capabilities within the next 24 months, only 15% of organizations already have predictive service capabilities in place, which again indicates the need for a trusted IoT advisor. The next few years will be crucial. Customers who can leverage IoT to transform will flourish, while those not able to successfully transform their data into actionable insights will risk falling behind.
EVP, Product Development and Manufacturing Solutions at Autodesk
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, will keep gaining traction as AI-powered design software and newer, more sustainable materials become increasingly accessible and familiar. Whether it's printing ocean-liner propellers or concrete houses or bespoke chocolate candies, additive manufacturing and digitization of the entire design-to-manufacturing process will enable businesses to achieve better outcomes faster and create new possibilities.
The latest generation of design tools use cloud-powered AI to suggest designs that meet the stated requirements of the project, sometimes through unintuitive designs that would not have been manufacturable in the past. Additive manufacturing does not have the same limitations as traditional manufacturing, meaning new products that are lighter, stronger, less wasteful to create and more dependable are now feasible to manufacture. This combination alone is compelling, but coupling it with using new materials that help manufacturers meet sustainability goals and their customers’ expectations is a hat trick that leading companies will not ignore.
With the global workforce under significant strain due to the pandemic, we are only just beginning to understand its repercussions. In the U.S., student loan repayments are restarting, parents struggle with a child care shortage and new COVID-19 variants continue to disrupt industries. This year, we’ve seen a mass exodus of talent from every industry looking to find meaningful work in high-wage, high-growth career paths. As the cost of higher education rises, we also know that employers still require a four-year degree but find the qualifications of newly minted graduates lacking. Ultimately, we need more time-efficient, cost-efficient ways for learners to remain nimble in the tech, data and design sectors.
In 2022, we’ll see a long-overdue overhaul of compensation strategy. A convergence of factors, including widespread hybrid work, increased employee turnover, pay equity concerns and even inflation, will compound to place immense pressure on organizations to evolve the way they compensate and reward employees for their work.
Inflation is outpacing merit budgets, stretching companies between employee expectations and fiscal constraints. This is an inversion of the trends in the decade before COVID-19, when many companies could consistently afford to fund compensation budgets above inflation. Meanwhile, hybrid work is bringing new complexity both leading to dynamic market movement into smaller metros as well as rendering many traditional benefits (office lunches, local gym memberships) obsolete. Combined with historically tight labor markets, the stakes for getting compensation wrong have rarely been higher.
Organizations will need to invest in compensation capabilities and new sources of benchmarking, getting beyond the headline numbers, to ensure limited funds are allocated most effectively. Companies will also need to situate their strategy within a broader “Total Rewards” approach, using an intentional rewards mix across levers including benefits, variable comp, sign-on or spot bonuses, equity and development opportunities.
Proactive organizations will also recognize that the story and “art” of compensation is just as important as the science and data: Communicating your philosophy around compensation now (and repeatedly) will help employees understand the holistic value of their compensation package and set expectations and a foundation of understanding for 2022.
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.