The rise of industry clouds is one of the key technology trends that tech executives should be ready for in 2022. These clouds offer capabilities at every layer of the stack: infrastructures and security that comply with specific industry regulations or AI models tuned to specific industry use cases, like for assessing the risk of a new account or credit-scoring a prospective client.

At the platform layer, partners offer accelerators to extend industry capabilities to the last mile — like configuring a real estate solution to local policies. And, at the software-as-a-service layer, there are workflows and experiences tuned for industries such as financial services, manufacturing, communications, and healthcare, to name a few. It is at this layer that Forrester is seeing the most innovation, because these applications draw from all the industry capabilities at the other layers of the stack.

Industry clouds provide quick time-to-value. They let businesses focus their scarce IT talent on activities that offer true brand differentiation. This evens the playing field between enterprises and smaller businesses.

Industry clouds are complex, and businesses aren’t locked into digesting the entire elephant at once. They can deploy an initial set of industry functions and adopt more of the solution as their needs change, which compounds value at every step — like rolling out a telehealth solution then adding care team communication and coordination functions. Yet industry clouds are expensive and may not support your specific workflows. You may not be able to tap into a broad developer and partner community to really make you successful.

The end state is clear: Industry clouds will dominate. However, the path forward is less straightforward. In the short term, enterprises will piece together a mix of cloud approaches — horizontal, vertical, and purpose built. They will use marketplace components and co-innovate with partners to harness the agility that they need to be future fit. Read our industry cloud predictions, which Ted Schadler and I authored.