CIOs are tooling up an assembly line of technologies to get back to business in 2022, including a mix of solutions leaned on heavily to weather the pandemic and new offerings aimed at making the most of emerging opportunities as the pandemic subsides.\nAt its virtual IT Symposium\/Xpo this week, Gartner identified the top tech strategies it sees CIOs embracing next year, including the \u201cdistributed enterprise,\u201d advanced AI, hyperautomation, cloud-native platforms, decision intelligence, and advanced security, among others.\n[ Learn from your peers: Check out our State of the CIO 2021 report on the challenges and concerns of CIOs today. | Find out the 7 skills of successful digital leaders and the secrets of highly innovative CIOs. | Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO newsletters. ]\nTying together these trends is the C-suite\u2019s ongoing recognition of IT as an engine for business transformation.\n\u201cThe two top business priorities for CEOs going into 2022 are scaling digitalization and building ecommerce, with the aim of getting back to business,\u201d said David Groombridge, research vice president at Gartner, noting that CIO priorities will vary depending on whether they are tasked with driving consumer revenue or building products.\nBut all CIOs will have common set of technology priorities, the analyst predicts.\n\u201cCIOs tasked with delivering digitalization at pace to meet CEOs\u2019 demands must ensure they have the technical foundations to rapidly grow and scale, while dealing with the new reality of hybrid working. That will make cloud-native platforms, cybersecurity mesh, and the distributed enterprise as key trends to address in some form as soon as possible,\u201d Groombridge told CIO.com.\nAdvancing (and securing) the business\nGartner\u2019s \u201cdistributed enterprise\u201d comprises the slate of technologies CIOs have come to rely on to support distributed teams during the pandemic and the new operating models they are developing to facilitate hybrid work as the pandemic subsides. Examples include cloud-enabled workspaces, collaboration and monitoring tools for the hybrid workforce, new remote support offerings, and zero-trust security models. The firm predicts 47% of knowledge workers will work remotely in 2022, up from 27% pre-pandemic, a sure sign that for most organizations hybrid work is here to stay.\nCIOs will also be key players in building new business models, both physical and virtual, to \u201creconnect\u201d with consumers that are location-independent, especially in the hospitality, retail, healthcare, and financial services businesses, Gartner says.\nTo do this, Gartner sees CIOs investing in \u201cgenerative\u201d artificial intelligence methods and standardizing on AI engineering practices. This means moving beyond chatbots to implement advanced machine learning methods that \u201clearn\u201d about content from data and create software code, manage retail stock, automate staff training, optimize manufacturing, and control traffic pattern recognition.\nMany leading CIOs no longer view AI as experimental, and will invest next year as part of a concerted effort to standardize their AI engineering practices to capture business value. By 2025, Gartner predicts that the 10% of enterprises that adopt these practices will see as much as three times more value than the remaining 90% of companies that don\u2019t codify their approach to AI.\n\u201cMany of these [AI] technologies are far more advanced than many enterprises realize,\u201d Groombridge told CIO.com. \u201cEven where maturity is not yet proven, enterprises are prepared to take more risk than before.\u201d\nAutonomic systems and hyperautomation will be other top priorities, Gartner maintains. While it\u2019s true that some of this is driven by the pandemic, these modernizing processes have been on the drawing board for some time. Business conditions have simply heightened the urgency.\nCIOs, for instance, will invest heavily to develop autonomic systems that can scale, are self-managing and even capable of modifying algorithms to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Gartner predicts such autonomic systems now common in high-level security infrastructures last year will be incorporated in manufacturing and systems such as robots and drones next year.\nAdvanced security technologies such as privacy-enhancing computation (PEC), aka preventing consumer data loss, and embracing the \u201ccybersecurity mesh\u201d will be other top technology action items, Gartner predicts. Up to 60% of large enterprises will use PEC technologies, such as trusted execution environments, by 2025, according to Gartner. Cybersecurity mesh architectures (CSMA), which aim to extend security controls to distributed assets beyond the walls of the enterprise, will reduce the cost of security incidents by 90% by 2024, the firm predicts.\nImproving the digital experience\nNext year will see CIOs extending efforts to identify and automate as many business processes and business decisions as possible. Roughly one third of enterprises surveyed by Gartner anticipate they will refine their decision-making competency by evaluating outcomes and creating structured models.\nStacey Goodman, CIO of Prudential Financial, agrees that embracing automation at scale will make enterprises far more nimble for a new era in business computing.\n Prudential Financial\n\nStacey Goodman, CIO, Prudential Financial\n\n\n\u201cHyperautomation is a critical component in how Prudential\u2019s businesses are executing their technology transformations,\u201d Goodman told CIO.com. \u201c[We] are focused on a seamless experience for customers, even when that means redefining industry practices rather than automating existing processes.\u201d\nCIOs are also embracing automation strategies such as robotic process automation (RPA) to increase workforce productivity.\n\u201cMore CIOS are turning to robotic process automation to eliminate tedious tasks, freeing corporate workers to focus on higher value work,\u201d said Ted Dinsmore, who as president of SphereGen Technologies currently works with 28 CIO clients to build AI solutions. \u201cWith the global labor shortages, particularly in technology, RPA will be one of the key tools for CIOs to turn to.\u201d\nCloud and data strategies will continue to be IT cornerstones in 2022 as well. Gartner sees enterprises moving to data fabrics and creating new services specifically for the cloud, rather than simply migrating existing applications to cloud platforms.\n\u201cBusinesses have been shifting to the cloud for quite a few years, but the pandemic has accelerated this,\u201d Groombridge said. \u201cThe acceleration has undercut the \u2018lift-and-shift\u2019 of legacy apps to the cloud.\u201d\nData fabrics, which integrate data and application silos with built-in analytics, will be deployed more frequently in 2022. The research firm predicts that doing so will improve data usage by distributed enterprises while cutting data management efforts by as much as 70%.\nHyperautomation, improved data access, native cloud applications, and increased use of AI are all part of a trend to improve what Gartner calls \u201ctotal experience\u201d (TX), aka the digital experience of customers and employees alike.\nNicholas Evans, chief innovation officer at WGI, says the design and professional services firm is leaning on a combination of strategic technologies, including AI, analytics, and digital twins, to support clients\u2019 TX efforts in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.\n\u201cWe\u2019re particularly interested in pushing the envelope with regard to hyperautomation as well as platform and as-a-service business models with a focus on collaborative co-innovation with our customers,\u201d he said.