There is a lot for IT leaders to consider next year, such as the continued growth in the AI sector, the need to make hybrid workplaces more efficient and the threat of cyberattacks when adopting new technology.
The IT sector has had an interesting year, with the rise of exciting new technology being balanced with an uncertain global economy.
AI technology has been the focus for many sectors and IT is no exception, as it holds the potential to automate various processes and protect systems from external threats.
But there is evidence that the global economy is limping along, with a slight decline in GDP anticipated next year according to the OECD.
As we approach the uncertainties of 2024, various IT experts have weighed in to predict how this sector will evolve next year.
IT will need to scrutinise with tighter budgets
Alex Hoff, the chief strategy officer and co-founder of software company Auvik, said 2024 is shaped to be a “suboptimal economic environment” and that budgets have already been tightened for many IT organisations.
“Funding for tech start-ups will be slow, and not all companies will survive – even those that provide unique, innovative and effective IT solutions,” Hoff said.
As a result, Hoff predicts that some of the vendors that enterprises currently rely on will fold or be acquired in 2024, which will cause disruptions for CIOs and IT managers.
“It is critical to take careful inventory of all IT solutions your company currently relies on and assess whether each tool is a necessity, or a ‘nice-to-have’,” Hoff said. “If it’s a must-have, then IT teams will need to compile research on suitable alternatives and their costs, to be prepared in case the vendor disappears.”
“Before taking on new projects, IT leaders need to carefully consider the task at hand and whether internal resources should be dedicated to achieving the stated goals or if specialised, outside vendors would be the more economical choice.”
Mark Banfield, the CEO of IT platform 1E, shared a similar mindset and said tech leaders are facing the pressure of “doing more with less”, which includes extending the lifespan of their existing IT assets and deciding how to allocate limited budgets.
“We’ll see more conversation around how new technologies will drive ROI [return on investment] and what costs organisations will save on by investing in them,” Banfield said. “As a result, IT leaders will need to prioritise the most impactful things for their organisation rather than experiment with new technologies.”
Richard Ricks, the founder and CEO of IT services company Silver Tree, said SMEs and nonprofits in particular will struggle to invest in new technologies, due to a “need for an immediate return on investment on any tech spending”.
“There are multiple reasons for this, including the rise of interest rates which are putting additional pressure on all parts of business,” Ricks said. “The result will be historic belt-cutting in IT departments after years of open wallets.”
IT team will modernise
Despite the economic issues, Banfield also believes that IT companies will shift their methods from the “old world” of manual processes and legacy tech, into a “new world” focused on “modernised end-user computing”.
“With devices becoming more complex and employees logging on from multiple networks – especially as hybrid work continues – 2024 will be the year organisations finally eliminate the problem of ‘configuration drift’,” Banfield said. “This happens when employees interchange between different set-ups and their devices struggle to keep up when exchanging networks.
“As environments become more intricate and involve legacy technology, SaaS platforms, collaboration tools and the cloud, the ‘drift’ only gets worse. Embracing the new world of IT will bring a finely tuned and calibrated end-user experience that will prove reliable for all employees and eliminate negative device experiences.”
AI will remain the belle of the ball
The concept of generative AI shook the tech world towards the end of 2022 when ChatGPT launched. It gained a massive amount of popularity in a short timeframe, which quickly gained the attention of tech giants.
Hoff noted that the technology is powerful, but also warned IT leaders to be wary of the hype that can occur with AI-related marketing, as many products use terms like generative AI to promote “smoke, mirrors and buzzwords”.
“There are some legitimate and very exciting uses of generative AI, but some marketers would lead you to believe its powers are far more ubiquitous than it really is – at least for the moment,” Hoff said. “As a result, in 2024 you’ll need to review your vendors that claim to use AI to understand what type of AI they are using, what data is being fed into their systems and how that data is being handled.”
Hoff also said IT teams should ensure that their data is not being used to train a public AI model, as this can lead to privacy risks.
“If a flashy new generative AI solution doesn’t serve a specific and meaningful purpose, best to put it back on the shelf,” Hoff said. “Don’t let technology wag the dog.”
James Hinton, the director of CST services at Integrity360, said generative AI will be integrated more into security tools next year, due to the benefits it presents and the rising risk this technology presents against companies.
“The implications of generative AI in security will continue to become more clear in 2024,” Hoff said. “It’s a topic that’s top of minds at the minute. In surveying 205 IT security decision-makers in August 2023, Integrity360 found that more than two thirds (68pc) are worried about cybercriminals’ use of deepfakes in targeting organisations, for example.”
The era of Covid-19 shadow IT will be controlled
Shadow IT – the use of IT-related services without the knowledge of the IT or security group – was a rampant issue during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Hoff. As companies shifted to remote and hybrid workforces, Hoff said many businesses quickly adopted new cloud and SaaS technologies to work in “the new normal”.
“Now that the dust has settled and organisations are starting to have a consistent work environment, IT teams must take stock of any new applications that were adopted through shadow IT or that were bought as a knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic but have not actually been put to good use in the months and years since,” he said.
Hoff predicts that the move to control the sprawling SaaS environment will reduce waste and cut costs for companies, while making things simpler and more streamlined.
“An excellent example is Zoom or similar video-conferencing tools,” he said. “Almost all organisations today rely on such a service, but oftentimes the subscriptions are not centralised. Some employees may be using their own independent, free-to-use version, while others are using a company-paid-for licensed version.
“Consolidation is critical to control costs and improve efficiencies. It’s often more advantageous to use a few preferred vendors for multiple services rather than individual point products from countless different service providers. IT leaders must understand what SaaS solutions are being used, what is being wasted and what is driving their business effectively.”
Meanwhile, Ricks believes that efficient collaboration will become even more important as companies shift to a “permanent hybrid workspace”.
“New technologies that improve on services like Zoom will make it easy to be in the same room together, and companies that advance our ability to collaborate will thrive,” Rick said. “Boards and executives will demand that disruptive collaboration technology be readily available.”
Digital transformation will grow the attack surface
Neeraj Singh, a WithSecure senior security researcher, noted that many IT leaders are adopting cloud services and other new technologies to improve their productivity and remain competitive.
But he warned that 2024 could see a rise in companies introducing new technologies and processes that have not been “thoroughly secured”.
“Cloud services, with their new interfaces, APIs and communication channels offer additional targets for attackers, thereby expanding the potential attack surface,” Singh said. “Misconfigurations occurring in cloud services due to errors or oversights in the set up and management of cloud infrastructure and resources can lead to security vulnerabilities, data exposure and operational issues.
“To mitigate these misconfigurations, conduct regular security audits. Organisations should follow best practices provided by cloud service providers and implement continuous monitoring for potential issues.”
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