This year promises to be exciting for business leaders dominated by artificial intelligence (AI), innovation and experimentation. Let's look at the trends we expect will shape mid-sized businesses in 2022.

AI becomes more mainstream

AI and machine learning are already all around us, whether it's talking to Siri on your iPhone, using facial recognition to unlock your phone, or watching a series recommended by Netflix. In 2022, we expect AI to become more accessible to mid-sized enterprises and see more companies work to automate back-office processes.

Finding patterns in data

With the increased uptake of digital services over the pandemic, businesses have collected many customer and employee data. We're expecting to see business leaders invest heavily in software that detects patterns in data and uncovers accurate and timely business insights, helping them see around corners.

For example, the software will detect patterns and anomalies in cash flow in finance and accounting. This will help businesses make strategic decisions, such as where to increase investment and how to save money across the business. As businesses invest in AI, they will also need to be wary of the privacy and ethics questions it raises.

Natural language processing is part of daily life

Natural language processing (NLP) is a software that uses AI to work out exactly what we're asking for. We're already using it daily by giving voice commands to our smart devices, but we're expecting to see this technology increase its prevalence across our working lives in 2022.

Consider, for example, asking your PC to call up timesheets and project milestones while you're on a video conference to discuss a project's outcome with your team. We'll be able to ask our phones for updates on our next overdue invoices, our balance, or business forecast, all as if we were speaking to a super-efficient colleague.

AI will face more regulation

With well-documented biases regarding race, age, gender, and more resulting from AI learning from insufficient datasets, we will need to ask whether AI can be fully trusted in its existing state. To manage the risks associated with handing over such power to machines, from 2022, we will see new regulations for AI to which businesses must quickly and diligently adjust.

Business leaders must use ethical instructions and diverse data to train our AI and set up in-house committees that test for biases and monitor against standards and principles. Since machines can't explain their decision making, it's vital that humans assess these recommendations before factoring them into the final decision.

Experimentation will lead to crucial discoveries

Businesses have faced economic, technological, and environmental turbulence over the past couple of years. While organisations in every industry have unique hurdles to overcome, a common challenge is that we simply cannot predict what's coming or what our customers will want or need as a result. That's why, in 2022, more businesses will switch their focus from long-term planning to agile, short-term experimentation.

The experimental approach allows businesses to take a step back, be creative, and develop exciting solutions. Many won't become a reality, but it's an exercise set to pay off in time. As Thomas Edison is famously quoted as saying: "I have not failed. I've just found 10 000 ways that won't work." Perhaps, that one crazy idea will turn out to be the one we've been waiting for.

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