Seamless cross-channel experiences, convenience, reassurance. Consumers are demanding more from companies but the latter have their own obstacles to overcome: supply chain disruption, the “Great Resignation” and pandemic fallout. Forrester’s latest guide shares marketing predictions for 2022 and how the events of the past two years will motivate brands to make bold moves in digital and technology. 

“In 2022, business leaders will invest in technology and refocus business strategies. AI adoption and tech spending will accelerate. Tech companies will jump into adjacent markets, equally capitalizing on opportunity and sowing confusion. Greenwashing will wash away as sustainability becomes a must-have,” said the report.

Consumers See The World As All Digital

Since the pandemic, consumers have upped their technology usage and adoption.

In April 2020, 35 percent of internet-using adults in the UK upgraded their in-home technology. Even consumers who were once considered digital holdouts anticipate continuing the online behaviors they picked up in the pandemic.

As a result, consumers have higher expectations for seamless digital experiences. Forrester found that 56 percent of US consumers believe companies should have discovered solutions to such pandemic disruptions by now, and 58 percent expect companies to organize their digital resources in such a way that would allow them to better respond to future public health emergencies.

Forrester’s prediction: 80 percent of consumers will see the world as all digital, with no divide. Companies will have to double down on offering effective and sustainable digital customer experiences.

Tech Execs Leap From Digital To Human-Centered Tech Transformations

In 2021, just 21 percent of global purchase influencers reported that their firms deemed digital transformation a key action to address business model change. Forrester anticipates that figure will drop to less than 15 percent this year, but that doesn’t mean pandemic-sparked technology acceleration will shrink.

As a means to transcend ongoing digital sameness and falling returns on IT investments, leading firms will tap into their employees’ creativity and equip them with intelligent tech such as automation and prediction engines that focus on outcomes, not just financial results.

“This shift will establish a new era of transformation comprising human-centered technology initiatives that form a tight link between customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX), drive competitive advantage, and deliver a 3 percent to 5 percent net gain in productivity,” according to the report.

Forrester’s prediction: 10 percent of tech executives will prioritize investments in strategic partnerships and innovation practices at three times the rate of competitors to drastically expand creative and innovative potential.

Brands Dance And Spare With Marketplaces

Today in the US, 57 percent of business-to-consumer ecommerce sales flow through marketplaces. In China, that number rises to 98 percent. This year, Forrester believes the mantra for brands will become “commerce anywhere” as they prioritize direct relationships and better shopping experiences to keep customers away from marketplaces and coming back for more. This means pursuing a presence in every possible shopping moment, from an owned website or influenced marketplace to a social slot or paid retail media placement.

To enhance these experiences, brands will invest in the following: commerce building blocks like order management, payments and inventory control to make every touchpoint a shoppable moment; immersive experiences to turn browsing into virtual inhabiting and subscription billing to make loyalty a business model pivot.

Forester’s prediction: Global spending on order management software will grow to over $1 billion in 2022, and $1.5 billion by 2024. 

B2B Marketers Accelerate Tech Investments, With Uneven Results

With 70 percent of marketers adopting an always-on digital engagement strategy, persistent digital engagement will become the new normal this year, according to Forrester. 

To meet these always-on goals, marketing leaders will utilize more autonomous and automated solutions with complex tech stacks. Marketing tech comprises 19 percent of the marketing budget but will increase to 25 percent in 2022, predicts Forrester.

Only 10 percent of business-to-business organizations will identify metrics to measure the value created for buyers during the buying process in 2022. To meet these personalization goals, B2B marketing leaders must incorporate customer-centricity into planning and execution processes.

Forrester’s prediction: 75 percent of personalized engagement strategies won’t meet ROI goals.

Brands Take Bold Actions To Advance ESG Goals

B2C marketers will commit to further advancing their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Forrester’s March 2021 Global Trust Imperative survey found that American, British, French, and Indian consumers are more trusting of companies than they are of their governments and expect brands to use their platforms to lead social change.

Leading brands have already answered this call. In 2021, many mainstream companies took a public stance on political and social issues; the MLB relocated the All-Star Game after Georgia passed the Election Integrity Act, TJX and many other companies required all employees to be fully vaccinated and Airbnb offered free housing to Afghan refugees.

Forrester research from 2021 also found that year-over-year, more adults in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy consistently buy from brands that align with their personal values. The largest increase took place in the US as 48 percent of adults reported doing so that year as opposed to the 40 percent who did in 2020. This year will see that figure increase to 50 percent.

Chief marketing officers will continue to face an increasingly divided political and vocal consumer base in 2022. To do this effectively, they’ll have to ensure that company values and brand strategy are inextricably linked.

Forrester’s prediction: 10 big brands will step in where governments fail to act.

Cloud-Native Takes Center Stage In Enterprise Cloud

Rapid digital acceleration has caused companies to experience new levels of cloud scale. Cloud-native adoption increased in 2021 as developers reported increased usage of containers (33 percent in 2020 to 42 percent in 2021) and serverless (26 percent in 2020 to 32 percent in 2021) at their organization.

This year, cloud-native technologies will become the core of the cloud strategy rather than a nice-to-have. They’ll transcend all major technology domains, including big data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, according to Forrester.

Rather than layering cloud-native onto their existing plans, enterprises will re-platform their cloud strategies to be based on cloud-native.

Forrester’s prediction: Container adoption will hit 50 percent in 2022.