If you struggled to keep up with the unprecedented pace of technological change in 2023, you might be hoping for a calmer 2024.
The most significant breakout of this year was the adoption of generative AI across various sectors, which blindsided many businesses and fundamentally altered how we interact with and harness technology.
As we prepare for a new year, there is an increasing argument that it will never move this slowly again, with experts across many sectors giving their take below.
Balancing AI’s Risks and Rewards in Cybersecurity Management
Rohit Ghai, CEO of RSA, offers a timely reminder that in 2024, artificial intelligence will become a more significant threat to cybersecurity. This year, researchers demonstrated that AI could develop polymorphic malware, which can evolve its appearance and signature over time. As AI models ingest more data, threat actors will create better scripts to automate attacks, and we can safely predict that cybersecurity teams will face more and better-targeted threats than ever.
However, Ghai also states that the news isn’t all bad. He believes AI will help make cybersecurity stronger, smarter, and more effective in 2024. The truth is, we need the help.
“With more users, devices, entitlements, and environments to defend than ever, threat actors are finding the gaps created by a growing attack surface”
Many of those gaps result from the coarse-grained approximations that admins rely on to manage identity, authentication, and access at scale. Instead of impeding users, admins will over-provision accounts from the start or maintain access longer than required for users to perform their roles.
Humans can’t manage users’ permissions and entitlements second-by-second. But AI can. In fact, unlike humans, AI improves with greater volumes of data as it learns users’ behaviors and organizational context. AI can make the fine-grained, just-in-time decisions needed to move closer to zero-trust architecture and adapt to modern threats.
We’ve seen great potential in using AI to evaluate authentication requests, entitlements, and usage activity. Ghai believes organizations will need those AI-powered capabilities as a core component of their cybersecurity architecture.
“Cybersecurity still needs human operators’ expertise and insights. But in 2024 and beyond, the most successful and secure organizations will augment and complement their teams with AI.”
Generative AI: Shaping a More Personalized Digital World
Mark Curtis, global head of innovation and sustainability at Accenture Song, predicts that generative AI will continue to be applied in all digital interfaces. This will upgrade internet functionality from informative to intelligent, making the user experience more personal than transactional.
Curtis believes that the customer and the brand will benefit from this exchange, as customers will feel more understood and relevant than ever. Brands will use this newfound understanding to shape hyper-personalized products, services, and experiences. This was further evidenced in Accenture’s Life Trends report, which found that over 30% of all respondents are excited about conversational answers versus standard Internet search results.
39% of people aged 18-34 are excited about conversational answers over standard internet searches, and 42% are comfortable using conversational AI to find product recommendations.
However, we must remember that this is much more than technological innovation. Businesses will be challenged to adapt to their customers’ shifting behaviors and expectations.
Innovating Workspaces: AI’s Role in Enhancing Efficiency and Collaboration
Yao Morin, chief technology officer at JLL, a global commercial real estate and investment management company, believes that artificial intelligence, specifically generative AI, will continue to dominate commercial real estate’s digital transformation in 2024. With hybrid work here to stay, she also expects to see more advanced AR/VR technologies that foster in-office and remote collaboration.
A recent JLL survey of real estate investors and occupiers shows that in-office collaboration technology tops the list of tech to adopt next, followed by health and wellbeing solutions.
Business leaders are already stating they will pay a premium for workplaces with advanced technology, so we will likely see increased implementation of AI solutions and other advanced technologies that improve building efficiency and make the workplace truly smart.
85% of respondents expect to increase their investments in real estate technology over the next three years. 92% of occupiers believe integrating technology into their operations will give them an edge in the market, and 91% say they are willing to pay a premium for tech-enabled space.
With businesses competing in the race to net zero, we also expect to see more companies investing in technology for energy and emissions management in the coming year, as the adoption rate for data science and modeling tools to analyze energy use, occupancy, and financial costs across buildings and locations grows. After all, improvements in the sustainability metrics directly correlate to increased revenue and better business decision-making, in addition to the purposeful decarbonization benefits.
Hillary Ashton, chief product officer at Teradata, foresees a massive productivity leap forward through GenAI, especially in technology and software. Her 2024 prediction is it will be the year when conversations gravitate to GenAI, Ethical AI, and what it means to be human.
Aston predicts a shift in focus towards AI-driven customer experiences, with less emphasis on traditional business intelligence, and anticipates a renewed interest in IoT, propelled by advancements in AI that enhance capabilities, making robots almost sentient and significantly more efficient. Additionally, she foresees cybersecurity becoming a critically challenging yet essential role in businesses in the coming year.
Quantum Computing: Balancing Breakthroughs and Risks in Business
Action-enabled AI products will come to the forefront. Current mainstream generative AI tools can “generate” but cannot “act.” AI of the future will do both. Agustin Huerta, SVP of digital innovation and VP of technology IoT at Globant, predicts this will pave the way for a breakthrough in products and solutions focused on action-enabled AI, with potential first movers coming from the hospitality, entertainment, and retail industries.
According to Huerta, Quantum computing will take several steps forward toward reality and a few steps back with risks. While quantum computing remains in an academic state today, we’ll see many organizations investing in education and planning around how quantum can benefit their businesses in 2024. Applications in data and computing-rich fields, such as finance and pharmaceutical research, will likely be the first to take interest and invest.
Organizations will also need to prepare for more risks from quantum technology. While, on the one hand, it can provide better levels of cybersecurity than what currently exists, it may also have the ability to break security protocols that protect our data.
Huerta also predicts that robotics, more specifically multimodal robots, will usher in a new wave. Robotics has evolved for over two decades, and the trend in 2024 will be for the market to emerge with multipurpose robots, thanks to AI developments.
We’ll see robotics move further into the “non-manufacturing” space, where the technology has traditionally been used for automation and efficiency, and into such areas as food service and healthcare, where robots, drones, and task-optimized design are growing.
The blend of robotics with human ingenuity will result in innovative solutions and enhanced capabilities across multiple sectors.
Businesses will adopt robots-as-a-service, with many not taking a humanoid form but focusing on an optimized task, such as rolling delivery bots. As robotics will reshape industries and jobs, it will be necessary to demand legal frameworks addressing safety, privacy, and potential hacking vulnerabilities.
Balancing Hype and Reality for Business Value
Over the past few decades, technology has evolved at a rapid pace. Continuing this trend, 2024 will present challenges and opportunities for realizing business value through technology. Jaisinh Dhembre, partner at Infosys Consulting’s CIO advisory practice, predicts that separating the hype from reality will be critical.
“We believe that driving the corporate environmental, social, and governance agenda through sustainable technology will be among the critical areas that will experience increased attention and focus in 2024.”
Other key focus areas for 2024 will include the vertical integration of enterprise platforms, such as industry-specific cloud solutions, and the expansion of generative AI-based technologies to boost efficiency and effectiveness. This expansion will encompass extreme automation, low-code or no-code development, and risk and threat management enhancements.
Additionally, Dhembre predicts there will be a strong emphasis on improving cyber resilience and security posture. We’ll also see the development of novel experiences that blend the physical and digital realms. Supporting these advancements will be a concerted effort to strengthen fundamental cloud, network, and infrastructure components.
Sustainable AI: Balancing Innovation and Environmental Impact
WEKA president Jonathan Martin warns business leaders about the importance of intensifying their efforts to reduce AI’s carbon and energy footprint in 2024.
“Although AI holds untold potential to drive new discoveries and efficiencies and address pressing societal issues like climate change and the energy crisis, we cannot allow it to accelerate the problems we seek to solve. The solution cannot be part of the problem.”
One crucial step toward operationalizing sustainability will be fundamentally shifting how organizations build and run their enterprise data stacks. As an industry, we must develop modern data architectures that support energy and carbon-intensive workloads, such as AI, more efficiently and sustainably. The old ways of storing, managing, and processing data are no longer fit for purpose.
Martin highlights that although there’s no single answer for AI and sustainability, we expect to see more companies rethinking and modernizing their data management and optimizing it for their next-generation workloads and applications well into 2024 and beyond.
New Year, New Goals
As we stand at the threshold of 2024, it’s evident that technology is not just evolving; it’s reshaping our world profoundly. The year ahead promises to be a crucible of innovation, testing the limits of what’s possible while challenging us to consider the consequences of our advancements.
It’s time to replace Silicon Valley’s mantra of moving fast and breaking things with adaptability and foresight.
The integration of generative AI across diverse sectors, the transformation of workspaces through advanced technologies, the complex dance of cybersecurity balancing threats with protective innovations, and the push towards more personal, interactive digital experiences all signal a future where technology is deeply interwoven with every aspect of our lives.
However, the most significant challenge and opportunity lies in harnessing these advancements sustainably. As Jonathan Martin of WEKA insightfully points out, the quest for innovation must be aligned with environmental stewardship. The industry’s move towards greener data architectures, the prioritization of sustainability in AI applications, and reducing E-Waste is not just a trend; it’s a necessity.
As we look ahead to 2024, the only thing we know for sure is that the pace of change will not slow down.
But we can ensure that this relentless march of progress leads us to a future that’s not only technologically advanced but also sustainable, secure, and inclusive.
Let’s embrace these changes with a spirit of optimism and a commitment to responsible innovation, paving the way for a future that benefits us all.