10 post-pandemic trends for future-focused brands in 2022

After a year like no other, the digital experts at UNRVLD surface 10 post-pandemic trends to keep your strategy on track in 2022.

From customer engagement in the metaverse to further blockchain disruption, emotive experiences and workplace 2.0, UNRVLD has revealed 10 trends from its deep dive white paper based on the three key service lines of technology, experience and performance, plus its approach to future culture.

Here, we look at 10 post-pandemic trends at play which are a must read for any marketer preparing their strategic roadmap for the new year.

1. Increased agility through no-code and low-code

By 2024 we predict that 65% of application development activity will be via low-code and 60% of custom applications will be built outside the IT department. 30% of these will be by non-technical employees. 60% of organizations say that the low-code / no-code approach gives IT departments more breathing room. This is set to significantly affect your future workforce planning.

2. Customer engagement in the metaverse

The metaverse comprises “always on” virtual worlds and avatars – our "digital twins”. With investment predicted to hit $800bn by 2024; how will this inform our lives in 2022? Cultures will form around platforms, special interests and geographies; product placement, sponsorship and advertising – but there is so much more.

3. Further disruption by blockchain technology

With the total market cap of cryptocurrencies growing 600% from $0.5tn to $3tn, government acknowledgement, acceptance and plans for regulation are in play across may countries, including the UK. A blockchain is a digital distributed, decentralized, public ledger that exists across a network. A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger (blockchain). Bitcoin is currently the best performing asset class on the planet. Are you ready to embrace this new financial landscape?

4. The carbon footprint of digital

It’s a startling fact that 3.8% of global carbon emissions are produced by the internet (the same as airlines). This is rising. If it were a country, the internet would be the seventh largest polluter in the world. 75% of adults in the UK are worried about the impact of client change. The pressure to deliver more “sustainable” web design and development is fueling the reconsideration of solution/enterprise architecture. How is your organization preparing to address this monumental challenge?

5. Emotive experiences

Tragically, Covid-19 has created a global mental health pandemic. A 26% increase in mental health disorders is matched by the rapidly increased amount of time we spend online (27%). How people feel when interacting online and the emotional quality of their experiences is becoming increasingly important when they assess value. Much of the perceived business value of customer relationships focuses on the transactional aspects, and digital journeys can feel like a hustle towards a company’s desired goal. Increasingly, users will expect to feel a positive or pleasurable emotive response to the experience as well as a long term positive sentiment towards the brand.

6. Growth through trust

Conscientious consumerism is on the rise, with 32% of shoppers aiming to buy more plant-based or fairtrade food and 52% aiming to reduce single use plastic. There’s also a 40% increase in the purchasing of hybrid and electric cars. A brand’s ability to convey honesty and shared values will be critical to build trust and for future commercial growth. While many have markets and business models shift to meet this new demand, consumers are suspicious of green washing.

7. MUM: A new AI milestone for understanding information

Multitask Unified Model (MUM) has the potential to transform how Google helps you with complex tasks by using AI. It uses the T5-text-to-text framework and is 1,000 times more powerful than Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT). Trained across 75 different languages, it has the ability to transfer knowledge across languages. MUM is also multimodal, so it understands information across text and images, and will expand to video and audio in future.

8. Planning for a cookieless future

Google has delayed the planned removal of third-party cookies until 2023, which gives performance marketers an extra year to prepare. So, in 2022 it is critical to gain a clear understanding of how to capture and utilize first party data and to create cookieless strategies. You’ll need to start by looking at the gaps where data can no longer be collected and where personalized ads can’t be served. Do you know who your target audience is; their demographics, interests, wants and needs? What tools or advertising you are currently using or running that will be affected?

9. Workplace 2.0

Covid-19 has forced all businesses to assess how they operate and where, and how their staff work. The digital sector has been well equipped to deal with an increase in flexible and remote working, but the adaptation needs to continue to make sure that our culture, and inter-team relations are maintained with this shift. 49% of HR leaders don't have an explicit future of work strategy. Existing staff and future hires are honing-in on how businesses have adapted to a shift in needs and wants. Creating an action plan to respond to this is crucial to ensure your business proactively develops. Soon, reactive change may put you behind your competitors.

10. Skills for tomorrow

It's difficult to predict what skills will be required in the future digital industry. What we do know is that not having a learning and development provision isn't an option. Digital skills and services are in demand, staff are sought after and securing new talent can be challenging in the current marketplace. Nurture and train new talent and continue to grow and excite existing staff. Most importantly, in 2022 organizations will need to feed their workforce with new ideas and energy.

Download UNRVLD's Top 10 Digital Trends for 2022 report for a deeper dive from their expert strategists and recommendations on how your organization can keep pace with accelerated digital change in the year ahead.