The past 12 months have been revolutionary for the technology industry, and 2023 will go down in history as the year that Generative AI took its hold. And although AI has certainly been the buzzword of the year, other technologies have also continued to develop and be embraced by businesses. Organisations have continued to invest in cloud services as they battle to lower costs amidst inflation, all whilst remaining sustainable and keeping carbon footprints to a minimum. High performance computing (HPC) is another technology which businesses have turned to in order to maximise productivity in today’s climate. To find out more about what the next year might have in store, we spoke to four technology experts about their predictions for the upcoming year.
The impact of AI
Named the official word of the year by Collins Dictionary, AI is set to have an impact for many years to come. With billions of dollars invested in 2023 alone, over the next 12 months ‘Artificial Intelligence is going to advance further’, predicted Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK. He said: “It will become more mainstream than this year as it is gradually embraced as an enabler and not a replacement for human expertise. We will reach a stage where AI is not feared, but used as a tool which can open up vast potential across many industry sectors. Some of the uses to AI to explore the unknown haven’t even been identified yet, so we won’t see the full worth of AI for years to come.”
Mark Wilson, Technology and Innovation Director at Node4, echoes this sentiment, but recognises that not all businesses are moving at the same pace. “Many CIOs will be laser-focused on integrating AI in their strategy by investing in AI hardware and software as well as AI skills, such as data scientists or engineers and governance through policies or ethics,” he explained. “That’s a big investment and so, for other CIOs, 2024 will be about ‘watching and waiting’ to see what happens before they fully invest in their own tactical AI developments. In the meantime, they may choose to rent a graphics processing unit as a service or consume compute and storage from hyperscalers, like Microsoft, where their investment is more flexible.”
Head in the clouds
The apprehension around investing in AI technology is not only indicative of the many unexplored avenues of AI, but also the current economic climate. With costs remaining high, all businesses continue to feel the pinch and are looking wherever possible to keep costs at a minimum. Technology plays a key part in this. Node4’s Wilson acknowledged: “Economic concerns are prompting businesses to optimise technology use for cost-effectiveness and strategic decision-making.”
The scalability and flexibility of cloud is one area that can generate huge cost savings for small- and medium-sized enterprises. And this is driving change in the cloud market with more businesses choosing highly flexible hybrid and multi-cloud options, as Leaseweb’s Storrar noted. “There is a definite move into private from public cloud, driven by more predictable, forecastable pricing structures,” he outlined. “In this climate people want as many knowns as possible.”
Yet Storrar recognises that this is not the only thing driving businesses to private cloud. With the huge migration to cloud over the past few years, “how business managers are thinking has changed too – they are making changes for real benefit not for the sake of it and are getting more knowledgeable about how cloud set-ups can be tailored. It’s therefore not a surprise that most businesses are choosing highly flexible hybrid and multi-cloud options.”
“Tech teams now have the skills and confidence to make cloud work for the business,” he continued. “The ability to scale and pay only for what is needed is an expectation now – businesses are getting even better at fine tuning performance on a daily basis to achieve a balance between price and flexibility. And it is more commonplace now for different departments to manage an element of their own cloud services – marketing does not have to operate on the same platform as the finance function.”
But as cloud usage becomes fragmented, it can be difficult for business leaders to have complete visibility over organisational data and ensure that it is all protected to the required standard. In fact, 46% of businesses report that they don’t know where their personal data is stored, and sporadic use of the cloud only exacerbates this problem.
Michal Lewy-Harush, CIO at Aqua Security, warns that as cloud usage expands in 2024, “more and more organisations will have to find the right balance between cost, effectiveness, value and security posture. In order to do that, more and more CISOs, together with CIOs, will look for consolidated platforms that can present cloud spend, security posture, asset configuration management, quality and cost optimisation.”
Connie Stack, CEO at Next DLP, agrees, adding: “In 2024, organisations will be pressured to consolidate their security stack. Driven by a continued shortage of talent and cost-saving initiatives, we will continue to see CISOs pressured by non-security-focused peers and executives to adopt some of Big Tech’s solutions as the single source of data protection. Consolidation is here to stay, but putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good strategy – in life or in cybersecurity.”
Advising on how to achieve that, she continued: “As we approach the new year, I would remind anyone looking to consolidate in 2024 to evaluate their current stack, identify which tools can be replaced, and develop a roadmap tailored to your specific security goals. Consolidation involves more than adopting new technology or embracing an aggressively discounted licence that finance teams adore; it’s about reshaping your security strategy, leveraging Big Tech and other specialist solution providers, quantifying the total cost of ownership, understanding your gaps and aligning them with your organisation’s goals and security needs.”
To be continued
AI, cloud and consolidation are set to be the hot topics of 2024 as businesses fight to stay afloat and reverse the current economic downturn. We certainly have an exciting 12 months ahead as we truly get to know AI. Will it reach the heights that we are currently reaching with the cloud – becoming true masters, refining our experts and reaping the benefits successfully – or will we realise that 2023’s noise around Generative AI is just a hype to be replaced by the reality of its cost, risk and complexity? We’ll all just have to wait to find out.Click below to share this article