Make no mistake! 2023 will be a challenging year for businesses. "Nice to have" technologies will become "not that nice to have" in 2023. There will be a deepening return to common sense cost-saving, cash flow enhancing, and profit-creating business technology investments.
Technology that improves employee and customer experience and the "bottom line" is going to dominate this year’s IT budgets. Looking ahead is always a tricky business, but that should not stop businesses from taking a fresh look at their technology strategy as they plan where to focus restricted IT budgets. Here are the top 5 technologies for businesses to watch in 2023.
The Metaverse Is Tech's Latest Buzz Term
The Metaverse is coming, and it’s a very big deal. Human beings love to explore worlds beyond their own. So, it is little wonder the Metaverse excites so many of us. But what is the Metaverse? The Metaverse means many things to many different people. It is a digital realm that may one day be where billions of us live, work and play. It is an emerging 3D digital space that uses augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality and haptics to create deeply immersive experiences for internet users.
The Metaverse is not a new term. It was originally coined in Neal Stephenson's 1992 Novel Snow Crash. The term sprang to prominence after Facebook changed their name to Meta in 2021. In this virtual world, we interact with each other as avatars, with our imagination being the only limit.
But will the Metaverse interest enough of us to make it real in 2023? The answer, arguably, is yes. While yet to hit the commercial mainstream, the Metaverse is too big to ignore. For example, Meta still continues to spend $10 billion annually on Metaverse development, and Microsoft has offered $69 billion to buy Activision Blizzard.
There is massive potential for businesses to earn huge sums of money from the Metaverse. McKinsey estimates the Metaverse could generate $4 trillion to $5 trillion in value by 2030, which is why businesses are so attracted to the economic possibilities it offers. So, expect businesses to invest in immersive tech with greater interest as 2023 unfolds as more brands launch Metaverse experiences for their potential customers.
Cybersecurity and Cyber AI
As businesses generate ever-increasing amounts of digital data, the cyber threats they face will grow. At the current rate of growth, damage from cyberattacks will amount to about $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 - a 300% increase from 2015 levels. The demand for Cybersecurity and Cyber AI grew immensely before the pandemic, as businesses that digitized their operations quickly discovered that they needed to protect themselves against cyber criminals. Now, businesses (that rushed to transform digitally to survive the pandemic) have started to realize they also need cyber protection to safeguard their digital assets.
As cyberattacks grow in volume and complexity, it is increasingly difficult for humans to keep up, never mind responding to the speed, complexity, and scale of any potential attacks they now face. To cope, businesses are increasingly enlisting AI and ML to enhance their security. AI's capacity for perpetual learning is its most useful feature in cybersecurity. Deep learning and machine learning enable AI to understand attack behaviours better and identify behavioural biometrics. This enables cyber-AI systems to rapidly detect and respond to cyber threats with less ongoing human intervention.
Cyber AI improves a business’s security posture by providing enhanced detection, protection, and remediation of cyber threats, thanks to its ability to detect and proactively respond to cyber-attacks. Businesses should expect an ever-increasing range of cybersecurity hacks on their digital assets. The only way to cope will be to deploy ever-increasingly sophisticated AI and ML-based cybersecurity platforms. And, with a market opportunity worth some $2 trillion, expect more cyber security businesses to appear, offering to protect businesses’ digital assets.
Generative AI is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon, with Forbes projecting the market will reach $422.37 billion by 2028. While generative AI only accounts for 1% of all data produced at the time being, Gartner estimates that by 2025 it will produce 10% of all data. Generative AI is starting to enter mainstream adoption.
For example, Sequoia predicts that by 2030, generative AI will be able to put together scientific papers and visual design mock-ups, write, design, and code smarter and more efficiently than humans. Businesses can use it to produce content, such as articles, whitepapers, press releases, blogs, or social media posts.
Forbes estimates it will also contribute towards 50% of pharmaceutical drug development, and 30% of manufacturers will use generative AI to enhance their product development effectiveness by 2025.
It is now common to find generative AI in conversational AI and Conversational Business Application development platforms, which operate successfully in the financial, travel, marketing, and healthcare sectors. Unlike previous chatbots, recent conversational AI assistants remember previous conversations, making them suitable for multiple customer and staff experience applications. It would be remiss of businesses not to pay close attention to this technology and its practical application in their business operations.
There is an urgent need to address people, service, capability, and capacity gaps within businesses. Variations in work demand necessitate far greater flexibility in workforces than ever before. Recruiting, training, and maintaining large communities of permanent workers must meet the ever-changing needs of modern businesses. 2023 will see a combination of inflation, recession, headcount reductions and higher operational costs that will force businesses to automate their processes. And, as HFS recently stated, "nothing dictates a real secular change to enterprise operations than financial pressures, and we are rapidly arriving at a third major trigger that will lead to the evolution of many autonomous enterprises where leaders have no choice but to drag their operations out of the dark ages." In fact, HFS went as far as to say, "Operations leaders who cannot deliver on automation will become obsolete – it is now an expectation."
So, to survive an ever-evolving business environment, businesses need to apply robotic process automation, intelligent automation and conversational AI technologies across their business operations as a solution to the staff, customer, and economic challenges they face.
Gartner describes "Hyperautomation" as the orchestration of multiple technologies and tools such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Business Process Management (BPM), Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), and other types of decision, process, and task automation tools.
Hyperautomation will become increasingly important to businesses as it helps solve so many problems being caused by labour shortages, wage inflation, and poorly integrated systems, workflows and processes. Simply put, if businesses get smarter at automating, they will get better at solving a lot of these problems at the same time.
Digital Twins and AI
"Digital twins" is not a new term, but when paired with advances in AI, they become increasingly valuable in transforming operations or creating new value. Gartner defines a digital twin as "a digital representation of a real-world entity or system", whilst McKinsey defines a digital twin as "a virtual representation of a physical asset, person, or process." So, digital twins are virtual simulations of real-world processes, operations, or products that can be used to test new ideas in a safe digital environment. AI enhances these capabilities by enabling the technology to look at what-if scenarios, run simulations, and provide previously unavailable insights.
Data from multiple digital twins can be aggregated to gain a composite view across real-world entities, such as a power plant or a city, and their related processes. For example, factory up times can be increased by undertaking preventative maintenance, as predictive AI can help identify machinery defects in advance of their happening.
CEOs are increasingly recognizing the importance and power of digital twins, with 70% of C-suite technology executives in large businesses exploring and investing in digital twins. This interest, combined with rapidly advancing supportive technologies, is driving market estimates for digital twin investments of more than $48 billion by 2026—a 58% compound annual growth rate. Expect to hear more about digital twins in 2023 as investments will continue to grow.
The world of technology is constantly evolving. Businesses need to modernize their existing tech stacks. They must focus on improving customer and employee experiences to drive revenue. Often, business technology professionals are inundated with too many "spinning plates". But while businesses must focus on IT budgets, they must remember to pay close attention to the opportunities presented by technology and get ready to take full advantage.
A new era of digitization has arrived. Businesses now possess a set of technologies that have been created to match human ingenuity's speed and agility. And that is revolutionary. The challenge for executives in 2023 will not be about betting on individual technology trends. Rather the challenge will be in understanding how all these technologies can create an array of exciting business possibilities when they’re combined together.
Find out how Conversational AI is empowering your existing tech stack to enable smooth back-end automation to help your employees operate better and your customers have a satisfying buyer journey.